Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer Receives Family Defense Scholar Award

September 29, 2014

The Family Defense Center in Chicago honored Northwestern Law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer with the Family Defense Scholar Award for her work exposing errors and injustices in cases of “shaken baby syndrome.”

Tuerkheimer specializes in the areas of criminal law, domestic violence, feminist legal theory, and the intersection of science and criminal justice. Much of her scholarship focuses on the inadequacies and slow evolution of domestic violence law and explores the disconnect between criminal law and the social understandings of sexual violence. Her most recent book, Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice, was published this year by Oxford University Press.

The award was one of four awards presented at the Family Defense Center’s sixth annual Family Innocence Benefit held at the Mid America Club on September 21. Ellen Domph received the Family Innocence Defender Award for her trial work exonerating innocent parents from abuse allegations, including allegations of shaken baby syndrome. Pro bono attorney and Family Defense Center board member Louis Fogel was honored with the Pro Bono and Community Service Award, and the Goodman Theatre received the Community Awareness Award for raising awareness of flaws and biases inherent in the child welfare system through their production of the play Luna Gale earlier this year.

Tuerkheimer teaches Criminal Law and Feminist Jurisprudence— a class whose casebook, Feminist Jurisprudence, Cases and Materials, she coauthored with Professors Kimberly Yuracko, Cynthia Bowman (Cornell), and Laura Rosenbury (Washington University). She joined the Northwestern Law faculty this fall after serving as a professor of law at DePaul University since 2009. After receiving her JD from Yale Law School, she clerked for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Jay Rabinowitz and then she served for five years as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office, where she specialized in domestic violence prosecution.

The Family Defense Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate justice for families in the child welfare system.