Blog My random thoughts

February 11, 2011

Unique (?) Fact Pattern of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:51 PM

I was reading this article about shaken baby syndrome and I started thinking about the peculiar issue present when there is uncontrovertable evidence of a crime but no evidence available to prove who committed the crime. In this article there was evidence that a baby was shaken, but it was suggested that the doctors could not narrow down the timeframe for the event to less than a 24-hour period. Many adults, around 4 or 5 were alone with the baby during that time. While the prosecutor ultimately convicted the caretaker, the larger issue remains as a very real possibility for trouble. This is different than most usual criminal enterprises because typically it is possible to just charge everyone involved with conspiracy. With a case of a shaken baby however, it is most likely that one adult is solely liable and that all others are completely innocent of the actual crime. The similar case in tort law is Res Ipsa Loquitor, but that requires a showing of control by the Defendant over the material run-amok, and that “control” is precisely the issue in the case of a shaken baby. This got me wondering if there were any other cases of this type. It would take a series of discrete events where each person capable of committing the crime was alone to commit the crime and the evidence of the crime would need to remain undiscovered until after all the discrete events took place and the crime would need to be of a nature such that it would be impossible to pinpoint the exact moment the crime took place.



I suppose a nominal example would be art theft where a forgery replaced the original and no one noticed until some time had gone by. But you would need multiple suspects that were trained art theives capable of pulling off the switch. Shaking a baby does not require any special skill like stealing artwork might. And there still might be other evidence that could pinpoint the culpret in an art theft.


I’ll keep thinking about this, but in the meantime, how do we charge a crime like this?

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