Danny Sullivan, Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at Monash University looks at the basis for false confessions and how the criminal justice system could better deal with this issue. His commentary looks specifically at the confession of Pedro Hernandez, a man of ‘limited intellect’ and with a history of mental illness, to the murder of Etan Patz in 1979.
Criminology and forensic science in La Belle Epoque
Douglas Starr’s nonfiction book, The Killer of Little Shepherds tells the tale of how serial killer Joseph Vacher was brought to justice through a combination of painstaking investigation and early forensic science in nineteenth-century France.
The cardinal driver of cerebral palsy litigation is electronic fetal monitoring, which has continued unabated for 40 years. Electronic fetal monitoring, however, is based on 19th-century childbirth myths, a virtually nonexistent scientific foundation, and has a false positive rate exceeding 99%. It has not affected the incidence of cerebral palsy. Electronic fetal monitoring has, however, increased the cesarean section rate, with the expected increase in mortality and morbidity risks to mothers and babies alike. This article explains why electronic fetal monitoring remains endorsed as efficacious in the worlds’ labor rooms and courtrooms despite being such a feeble medical modality. It also reviews the reasons professional organizations have failed to condemn the use of electronic fetal monitoring in courtrooms.
New Pathway to Specialist Recognition –
I recently wrote to the Australian Medical Council Ltd seeking an update on the application process for specialist recognition. The National Board (Medical Board of Australia for Australian doctors) now has the responsibility for preparing and making a submission to the Ministerial Council for approval of a specialty under section 13 of the National Law (Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act as in force in each state and territory).
It has been gratifying to see the interest displayed in the short courses offered by the College. A very good number of members attended the Advance Law Intensive in Melbourne late last year and the Expert Witness course being conducted in Melbourne in April has been well over-subscribed to the point that the College is looking to run another Expert Witness course in this calendar year.