“In a case of measles, if you get the diagnosis wrong, in seven days’ time it really doesn’t matter because it’s cleared up anyhow. If you get the diagnosis of fatal shaken baby syndrome wrong, potentially someone’s life will be terminated”
– Norman Guthkelch
I’ve been following the current trials of Casey Anthony (accused of 1st degree murder of her 2 year old, Caylee – among other charges) in Orlando, Florida http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/caylee-anthony/os-casey-anthony-trial-day-31-20110629,0,7263970.story and also the Ereck Plancher (18 year old football player at the University of Central Florida) who allegedly died of complications related to a sickle- cell condition during an off-season football conditioning drill http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-06-25/sports/os-ereck-plancher-trial-0626-20110625_1_ucfaa-water-and-athletic-trainers-plancher-family.
It is interesting to note that every story has two sides and of course there is the truth! Just like in the shaken baby syndrome there are two sides arguing their case with lives in the balance (whether that is the death penalty, prison time, a “blemish” on your career, or generally ruining your life). And of course there is at times a considerable amount of money on the line, for example, malpractice suits, wrongful death, etc.!
So how is the truth derived? In the legal system of course! The prosecution and the defense line up their expert witnesses in hopes of persuading the jury that their story tells the truth. I think the judicial system does a pretty good job of this but it is also related to the skill of the attorneys. If you have a poorly prepared attorney you will have an uphill battle trying to “sell” your version of the truth to the jury. So how do you pick a qualified attorney to protect your rights? Just like anything else you do: endorsements, references, notoriety, etc. How do you pay for them? Well that’s a whole other question!!
Whenever you read media reports about testimony, convictions, etc. you should consider these points!