Influential Michigan Innocence Clinic to Handle Josh Burns’ Appeal

Torn Family Trust is pleased to announce that the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law will handle the appeal of Josh Burns’ 2nd Degree Child Abuse conviction. The Michigan Innocence Clinic specializes in working to overturn wrongful criminal convictions that are not based on biological evidence (DNA). The Michigan Innocence Clinic is the nation’s first exclusively non-DNA innocence clinic. They are a respected authority on the flawed science surrounding many Shaken Baby Syndrome cases. All cases handled by the clinic are funded through donations to the program at no expense to the defendant.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic is co-directed by Professor David Moran who will be overseeing Josh’s case. Prof. Moran is a highly qualified attorney and professor who holds multiple degrees from such prestigious institutions as the University of Michigan, Cambridge University, and Cornell University. Disciplines include mathematics, physics, and law. Prof. Moran has argued six times before the U.S. Supreme Court and has won many awards for his legal work including the Justice for All Award which according to the Clinic’s website is “the highest honor bestowed upon defense attorneys in the state of Michigan.”

Caitlin Plummer is a Teaching Fellow in the Michigan Innocence Clinic and will also represent Josh in his appeal. Ms. Plummer holds degrees from Boston University and the University of Michigan. She previously worked with the University of Wisconsin’s Innocence Project which, under the direction of Keith Findley, has extensive experience working on wrongful convictions associated with flawed Shaken Baby diagnoses. Ms. Plummer has made numerous presentations on a variety of topics associated with wrongful conviction and is a published writer in the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. To learn more about the Michigan Innocence Clinic visit their website.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic will be working in conjunction with co-counsel Katherine Judson of the Innocence Project. Ms. Judson is the Innocence Project’s Shaken Baby Litigation Fellow. According to the Innocence Project’s website, Ms. Judson “has specialized in felony cases, especially those with complicated forensic evidence. She has spoken before the American Academy of Forensic Science, as well as other conferences and seminars, on various issues related to criminal law and forensic science.” She holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University Law School. Ms. Judson is a leading legal expert on the flawed science associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome. We are excited and thankful that this amazing team of qualified and leading experts on wrongful Shaken Baby Syndrome convictions will represent Josh.

Motion for Release Pending Appeal Filed

The Clinic’s first motion pertaining to Josh’s case has been filed requesting that the judge release Josh from jail during the appeals process. Judge Miriam Cavanaugh will consider this motion on Thursday, July 2nd at 1:30.

Upon request, a person in Josh’s situation may be released from jail during the appeals process if a judge grants their motion. If the appeal is lost then the person must return to jail to finish out their sentence. If the judge allows for Josh’s release during the appeal she may set a bond amount that must be paid before his release. A bond is set with the idea that a person is less likely to “jump bail” and flee when the court is holding on to a sum of money. Throughout his entire case, Josh has exhibited a willingness to comply with all court orders so he should not be considered a “flight risk” by the court.

If the judge grants the motion for a bond release it is hard to foresee what the bond will be set at. In the case of a low bond, the amount could feasibly be paid on July 2nd and Josh will be released that day. However, there is a possibility the bond could be set high in which case his release may be delayed while we raise funds.

We are hopeful that Josh will be released from jail next week so he can focus on helping with his upcoming appeal.

Supporters are encouraged to attend the hearing to support Josh on July 2. This is not a day to protest, but rather a day to emotionally support the Burns family with our presence at the hearing.

Please share this exciting and important announcement regarding Josh’s appeal You can follow the Michigan Innocence Clinic on Facebook here. Look for upcoming updates on Josh’s appeal on and the associated Facebook page and Twitter feed.