Lectures are one-hour in length, and are scheduled on Thursdays as follows:

Prosecutors: 10:30 AM PST

Defense attorneys: 1:30 PM PST

Law Enforcement: 3:30 PM PST

Seminars last for an entire afternoon; dates and times for the seminars are pending.

For attorneys and paralegals:

California-approved MCLE (self-study), provided by California Western School of Law

Click HERE to register for FREE

LECTURES: Adult and General Topics

This lecture will define and outline the practice of forensic pathology and elaborate on its role in medicine, public health and the legal system.  The components of a forensic autopsy will be discussed and illustrated.

The vast majority of deaths investigated by American Medical Examiners and Coroners are sudden natural deaths.  This lecture covers the major natural modalities of sudden natural death in the United States, and introduces the critical concept of the overlap of natural disease processes in the setting of trauma (and subsequent medicolegal considerations).

The human body undergoes a series of changes beginning nearly immediately after death including cooling of the body (algor mortis), stiffening of the muscles (rigor mortis) and settling of the blood (livor mortis).  The organs and tissues also break down (putrefactive decomposition) until the body is ultimately skeletonized.  Each of these concepts is reviewed, as is the related (critical) topic of the determination of the time since death.

This lecture provides an overview of the commonest type of injury – blunt trauma.  Examples of blunt injuries include scrapes (abrasions), bruises (contusions), tears (lacerations), chop wounds and fractures.  The overlap of blunt trauma with underlying natural disease processes is re-introduced.  Delayed consequences of blunt trauma (particularly involving cases with prolonged post-injury hospitalization) are reviewed.

This lecture outlines the major medicolegal considerations in cases with cutting and stabbing trauma including differentiation of suicidal from homicidal wounds, etc.

Firearms-related injuries are relatively common.  This lecture outlines the fundamental types of firearms available to civilians in the United States, as well as the core considerations in wound form and severity.  Medicolegal considerations are addressed in detail, including range of fire, differentiation of suicidal from homicidal wounds, etc.

Domestic violence is a major societal and legal problem in the United States.  Cases of both survived and lethal neck pressure (including strangulation and other forms of mechanical asphyxia) can be very difficult to investigate, prosecute and defend.  Criteria exist to assist all stakeholders understand the medical evidence in the legal setting, including especially whether or not alleged injuries qualify as “serious/grievous bodily injury”.

Drug use and abuse is commonplace in the United States.  The impact of alcohol and drugs on behavior, health and death is tremendous.  The major drugs of misuse and abuse are reviewed from a medicolegal perspective, and include alcohol (ethanol), cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, benzodiazepines, marijuana (and the synthetic cannabinoids), and others.

The forensic pathological / anthropologic evaluation of the skeleton is fundamental for human identification, and for the documentation and evaluation of skeletal trauma.  This lecture provides an overview of how humans can be identified from skeletal remains (e.g. age, sex, race, stature), how cause and manner of death can be determined, and how injuries (such as “tool marks”) can be documented and interpreted.

LECTURES: Pediatric Topics

Sudden, unexpected pediatric death due to previously undiagnosed natural disease is relatively uncommon.  This lecture outlines the differences between a pediatric forensic autopsy and an adult forensic autopsy, and provides an overview of the major categorical considerations when infants and young children die suddenly of natural disease.

Despite improvements in infant mortality, the sudden, unexpected and apparently unexplained death of an infant remains a relatively commonplace event.  By 2020, the majority of cases can be found to be the result of an infant being placed to sleep in an unsafe environment (e.g. bed-sharing with an adult).  This lecture provides an overview of infant death investigation, and a conceptual approach to the analysis and (statutory) certification of deaths of infants dying suddenly.

In early 2020 the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME), in coordination with the SUDC  Foundation, published a reference book (Unexplained Pediatric Deaths: Investigation, Certification, and Family Needs) which contained practice recommendations written by experts from the forensic pathology, public health and the clinical pediatrics communities.  These recommendations span numerous topical areas including death scene investigation, how to perform a pediatric autopsy, and death certification.  This lecture provides an overview of these practice standards.

Few forensic pathology topics are as controversial as abusive head trauma (including “shaken baby syndrome”).  This lecture provides an overarching perspective on both impact and non-impact head trauma (i.e. shaking), common pathological findings in injured and deceased children, and introduces attendees to fundamental (and controversial) topics such as retinal hemorrhages, “shearing injury” (“DAI”, “tDAI”, “TAI”, etc.), short falls, BECC/BESS, and lucid intervals.

A brand new policy statement on abusive head trauma was released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in March of 2020.  Like the 2019 Society for Pediatric Radiology Consensus Statement on abusive head trauma, this controversial publication has the potential to significantly impact practitioners, the legal system and society.  This lecture provides an overview of the policy statement, and discusses its strengths, weaknesses and core controversial elements.

Over the past decade or more, the infant cervical spine has become a topic of great importance in the evaluation of apparently injured (living and deceased) infants who may have been shaken or had impact injuries.  This lecture reviews the core pathological elements of hyperflexion/hyperextension injuries of the spine in both radiological and pathological settings, as well as common mimics of injury that may result in misdiagnoses.

The investigation of the apparently criminal death of a toddlers is highly complex, and requires interdisciplinary cooperation (without the development of “group think” and other forms of bias).  Careful interviews of suspects, thorough pediatric forensic autopsy techniques, and careful consideration of pathologic findings (which may have relevance in the determination of a “timeline”) are all key.  When standard “adult” autopsy techniques are utilized in young child cases, tremendous medical evidence may be lost, and this may result in a miscarriage of justice (a guilty person may not be charged or may be found innocent; an innocent person may be charge or found guilty).  This lecture provides an overview of these critical issues.

The discovery of fractures in living and deceased children can be alarming.  It is critical that all practitioners understand the developmental anatomy of growing bones, the common mimics of fractures, pathological conditions that predispose to fracture, and the basic biomechanics that apply to fracture generation and morphology.  Most pediatric fractures are not criminal in origin; the discovery, documentation and interpretation of fractures in this population can have tremendous consequences.  Skull fractures, rib fractures, and extremity fractures (including “CMLs” or “classic metaphyseal lesions”) are covered in this lecture.

Torture of infants and young children is, thankfully, an uncommon event in the United States.  However, it is critical that torture cases are appropriately identified, documented and presented to the criminal justice system.  On the other side of the coin, over-diagnosis of torture can have tremendous negative consequences, particularly given the subsequent legal sequelae in many jurisdictions.  This lecture reviews the medicolegal aspects of child torture.

Abstract pending

Abstract pending