I admit I am addicted to true crime podcasts. I listen to them during long drives and when I go jogging on the canal in Scottsdale. I happened upon the Do No Harm podcast via Wondery, not realizing that I was about to hear an amazing narration of the work that is frequently done in my office defending parents accused of child abuse and neglect.
This probably reads more like an Amazon book review, but I wish I could give more than 5 stars to Mike Hixenbaugh’s investigative piece. It provides such a unique perspective and insight into the lives of two families who both had a child injured in their care and who both were accused of malignant acts, when the truth was nothing more than an accident. It is worth reading the article (link below) but find time to listen to the 7 episodes produced by Wondery. Actually hearing the voices of the parents and their struggles explaining to doctors, protective service investigators and the courts is riveting.
Friends ask how I can defend people who do awful things to children. As a defense attorney, that is my job. Defending those who are guilty is so much easier than defending the truly innocent. The parent who has been falsely accused of shaking their child because a doctor sees some retinal hemorrhage. Defending a parent who is accused of harming their infant because a skeletal scan shows an injury that was likely birth-related. Often, well-intentioned medical providers who overstate their findings and diagnose not only a medical condition but causation. Hixenbaugh’s theme is that overstated opinions could result in more harm because they have tremendous influence over the decisions of state child welfare agencies. Leaving the falsely accused parents fighting an uphill (and occasionally impossible) battle against the courts and state agencies.
Gregg Woodnick has been practicing law in Arizona for over 20 years. He is a former adjunct law professor and has lectured for Yale University, Midwestern College of Osteopathic Medicine, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.