The Evidence Based Medicine and Social Investigation Conference 2011, convened August 4, 5 and 6. There were approximately sixty registrants. Many others should have enjoyed the opportunity to dialogue with the guest presenters. There were helpful break and mealtime exchanges between experts and appreciative attendees. Perhaps this will be the first of many such conferences.
I attended the Friday morning sessions of the Conference. I arrived early enough to grab breakfast at a table where Mark Freeman, Patrick Barnes and Harold Buttram were seated and after a quick introduction I listened to their case stories. Mark Freeman spoke to the Conference on Thursday. Law is his second career.
Mark Freeman was a mechanical engineer and worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and later ran his own small business. Then he went to Law School and began a law practice focused on Elder law, estate planning and administration. The experience of a personal friend who after taking a child to hospital due to vomiting and seizure, and was subsequently arrested and charged with child endangerment and assault, was Freeman’s initiation into the arena of Shaken Baby allegations. Freeman embarked upon an extreme SBS self-education program until he understood the medical presumption of abuse when a child has a subdural hematoma, He learned that legal and child protection agencies endorse this categorical presumption. His mechanical engineering background now proved its value because he comprehended why injury bioengineers consistently reject the SBS hypothesis based upon mechanical engineering science. He found it offensive that innocent parents were being criminally charged and their children were being removed. This has for him become a professional calling to represent people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who have been falsely accused. He finds great satisfaction in successful defenses against false charges of abuse.
The four primary speakers on Friday morning and afternoon were Drs. Buttram, Plunkett, Gardner and Barnes. Harold Buttram is a physician. Horace Gardner is an opthamologist. John Plunkett is a forensic pathologist and Patrick Barnes is a pediatric radiologist. All of these disciplines underscored the growing body of medical and scientific evidence that demonstrates that the shaken baby syndrome is discredited as the go-to diagnosis for injuries to a child. Rather there is a myriad of known non-traumatic medical causes that should be considered if evidence based medicine is being practiced. Clearly there was an identifiable atmosphere of collegiality, compassion, informed criticism of rigid diagnoses that do not do due diligence, of purpose to inform and reform. These should happen across the nation.
On Saturday, the legal counsel for Paul and Zabeth, Mr. Doug Christie,
will be on hand to speak. He is a hero of sorts and if he suggests that
is too grandiose a description, then let me say simply that he is a very
good and capable man. He knew that it was unlikely that the Baynes
would be able to pay him, yet he chose to represent them. He did not
enter the fray fully up to speed on family law and SBS but he has a deep
appreciation for fairness and a distaste for injustice. Besides this he
is an intriguing character. There is a measure of eccentricity about
him, a flair, a swagger, a wide brimmed fedora, a confidence that is
comforting, an eloquence allied to a very incisive mind. While Robert
Hamilton’s expertise in family law has successfully served the Bayne
campaign in these latter months, I credit Mr. Christie for the
achievement of speaking truth and common sense and fair play throughout
the 2010 court hearing. I know that Judge Crabtree could not ignore this
clarion call to rightness when the other side sounded like twaddle.