WHEN – Tuesday, August 9, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
WHERE – Michigan Court of Appeals, Hall of Justice, 925 W. Ottawa St., Lansing, MI 48909-7522
WHAT – On August 9, 2016, the Michigan Innocence Clinic (MIC) will be arguing on behalf of Joshua Burns at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Lansing, Michigan. The MIC will be arguing that there was ineffective assistance of counsel for Mr. Burns during his trial. First, his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge Dr. Bethany Mohr’s opinion. Dr. Mohr claimed that Naomi’s retinal hemorrhages were “very very highly specific” for child abuse and that Naomi’s symptoms as a whole were basically 100% diagnostic of child abuse. Science does not support this level of certainty, and these claims have been contradicted by every expert who has looked at the case. Second, the MIC will be arguing that Burns’ trial counsel was ineffective for failing to get an email exchange between Dr. Mohr and Dr. Alex Levin admitted into evidence. Dr. Mohr abruptly cut off the email exchange with Dr. Levin, a renowned ophthalmologist, as soon as Dr. Levin started disagreeing with her findings. These emails show that Dr. Mohr was not open to reconsidering her position even when faced with compelling, contradicting evidence.
In addition, the MIC will be arguing that there were evidence insufficiency and jury instruction issues during the trial. Even assuming that the record showed Naomi suffered from child abuse, there is insufficient evidence to show that Mr. Burns was the one who caused her injuries. Dr. Mohr stressed that Naomi’s fall while in Mr. Burns’ care could not have caused the injury, and in fact the injury could have occurred when he was gone or even after Naomi was at the hospital. There is zero evidence that the alleged shaking occurred on March 15, 2014 when Naomi was alone with Mr. Burns. In regards to the jury instruction issue, in order to convict Mr. Burns, the jury had to find that Mr. Burns committed a reckless act. But the trial judge refused to define what reckless was to the jury, and as a result this put Mr. Burns in a much worse position.
HOW YOU CAN HELP – Your attendance at this important court proceeding would be greatly appreciated in showing your support for the Burns family.