Failing to call an expert witness in criminal child maltreatment cases can be legal malpractice that can result in a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice. In a recent article Daniel Pollack, a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City analyzes when a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel may be supported in the child welfare legal arena. To do so, Pollack uses the example of People of the State of Michigan v. Ackley (2015). In this specific case Leo Ackley was convicted by a jury of first-degree felony murder and first-degree child abuse following the death of his girlfriend’s young daughter. During the trial five medical experts testified the daughter died as the result of injuries that were caused intentionally. Ackley’s attorney didn’t call any expert to refute the prosecution expert testimony or to support the defendant’s theory of the case. Ackley’s attorney’s decision not to retain an expert witness for his client was considered by the Michigan Supreme Court “ineffective assistance of counsel”.
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