That court reversed a ruling involving two men accused of injuring their infant children by violently shaking them.
The court said in the ruling now-retired Greenup Circuit Court Judge Lewis D. Nicholls was wrong when he barred prosecutors from introducing expert testimony on shaken-baby syndrome.
"That ruling lets me go to trial," Duvall said. "I was really anxious when we had to try that case; and I knew, I just sensed that the judge didn't believe that you could prove 'shaken baby' without external injuries."
He said his fear was if the process went through a jury selection, and he (Duvall) presented the case, it would be dismissed, bringing about a case of double jeopardy.
"We got him to rule pretrial, that that wasn't good science, and he dismissed the case. That was fortunate for me that he did it that way, so that we could appeal and get a ruling from the court of appeals, saying that he abused his discretion," he said. "Now, I think it's a jury question. So when the jury hears both sides, they'll be able to make up their minds if shaking this baby was the cause of the injuries."
Duvall said he now will be able to bring in expert testimony, which he feels will support his case against the two men - Raymond Martin, of HC 60 Box 427, Argillite, Ky., and Christopher A. Davis, of 312 Rob Lolly Road, Raceland, Ky.
The ruling was being watched by legal authorities throughout the state, because the case highlights the debate over shaken- baby syndrome.
In a statement, the three-judge panel appeals court said Nicholls abused his discretion in not allowing the testimony, and ordered the cases reversed and remanded.
"We just have to wait until the ruling becomes final, because they've (defense attorneys) got 30 days after the ruling to file a motion for rehearing or discretionary review, but we'll wait and see what happens," Duvall said. "I'm sure they will. And then the ruling is not final until that is ruled upon."
He also said defense attorneys could take their case to Kentucky Supreme Court, "not as a matter of right. It's discretionary."
Duvall said his office worked very hard on those cases, and now he feels vindicated by the decision, and plans to move forward and prosecute both cases separately.
"They were consolidated for appeal purposes, but they will be tried separately," he said.
Defense attorneys for Martin and Davis can appeal the ruling to Kentucky Supreme Court.
Shaken-baby or shaken impact syndrome is a form of inflicted head trauma. Head injury, as a form of child abuse, can be caused by direct blows to the head, dropping or throwing the child, or shaking the child. Head trauma is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.