Kent_legalTurning the Tide – The Omnibus Autism Proceeding – Second Set of Hearings (Thimerosal & Autism) – Day Three – May 14, 2008

By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

Memo to government attorneys:  When CBS News puts the expert report for the opposing side on their web-site you’re probably losing the public relations battle.

As reported by Mary Holland in her account that’s exactly what they did with Dr. Kinsbourne’s report and the rest of the day did not go much better for the defense.

Direct Examination of Dr. Marcel Kinsbourne (Witness for the families)

Dr. Kinsbourne’s testimony went simply to the question of general causation of thimerosal to autism and not to the two specific cases identified in this set of hearings.  Dr. Kinsbourne is a pediatric neurologist although he is now engaged primarily in research and writing.

He believes mercury should be put on the agenda for possible causes of autism and that mercury can cause autistic symptoms.  He believes about 20% of autism cases include clear-cut regression, which can be startling and dramatic.

From studies of twins it’s his belief that 10-40% of autism cases can not be explained by genes.  There are known factors which influence the development of autism; thalidomide if given to a pregnant mother at a certain point, as well as dylantin and rubella exposure while the mother is carrying the child.

In Dr. Kinsbourne’s opinion, the relevant brain structures are neurons, astrocytes, and microglial cells.  The death of astrocyte cells from excess glutamate leads to an increase in microglial cells.  This was discussed in the 2008 Lopez-Hurtado article on language-related cortex cells in the autopsies of the brains of people with autism.  This is consistent with petitioner’s theory of toxicity, oxidative stress, and neuro-inflammation.

Dr. Kinsbourne believes with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that thimerosal-containing vaccines deliver inorganic mercury to the brain.  This idea is not controversial.

On how mercury causes damage, Dr. Kinsbourne relies on the Aschner study which shows how mercury inhibits the uptake of glutamate, thus leading to an oversupply in the body.  This fits the description of people with autism having an overexcited brain.

While the model of an over-aroused or over-excited brain is not universally accepted, there is good evidence for the belief.  Autistics tend to have higher resting heart rates and may engage in their autistic behaviors as a way to try and calm themselves.

Evidence of neuro-inflammation in the brains of autistic individuals is strong.  The 2005 Vargas study found evidence of neuro-inflammation in 2/3 to ¾ of the individuals they examined.  The Pardo 2005 study showed persistent stimulation of the microglia in people with autism, supporting the theory of neuro-inflammation.

Cross-Examination of Dr. Kinsbourne (Witness for the families)

Mr. Matanoski began by questioning Dr. Kinsbourne about how he had come to work on this case and that there is no official criteria for regressive autism.

The bulk of his questions then centered around knowing at what dose a thimerosal-containing vaccine might cause astrocyte death and lead to the condition of autism.  Dr. Kinsbourne based his opinion on articles by Burbacher from the University of Washington, from the Aschner articles, the Charleston studies, as well as Dr. Aposhian’s article.

While Dr. Kinsbourne couldn’t tell how much glutamate is necessary for astrocyte death, he noted that there is a project now on microglial activation which is being funded by the National Institute of Health.

A good deal of time was spent by Mr. Matanoski comparing Dr. Kinsbourne’s report on thimerosal and neuro-inflammation with his previous report in Cedillo on the measles virus and neuro-inflammation.  He replied that the mechanism of neuro-inflammation is the same for both the measles virus and thimerosal.

Dr. Kinsbourne has testified in about 130 vaccine injury cases, claiming vaccines can cause a wide variety of injuries, from encephalitis, seizure disorders, ADEM, septicemia, and autism.

Redirect Examination of Dr. Kinsbourne (Witness for the families)

While Dr. Kinsbourne published a chapter in Pediatric Neurology in 2005, many of the recent advances in the thimerosal-containing vaccine theory has come about since that time.  Mr. Powers pointed out specifically 22 articles which are contained in Dr. Kinsbourne’s report which had not been published in 2005.

In discussing the 2005 Burbacher study on monkeys and thimerosal exposure, it was important to realize the study only mimicked the first six months of the vaccine schedule, not the full two years.

Direct Examination of George Mead (Father of William Mead)

In addition to being the father of the child at issue in this case, Mr. Mead is an attorney doing construction and real estate law, who also did medical malpractice defense for 10 years.

William was born healthy on May 5, 1998, developed normally, and at the age of 14 months was even a model for “Pottery Barn.”

His developmental regression started at around 18 months.  He was vaccinated shortly before his second birthday and then things got dramatically worse.  Within a few weeks he lost the language he had and started having diarrhea, vomiting, and unexplained welts.  His stomach was also bloating.

William was diagnosed with autism as well as having an IQ of 55, 5 points above retarded.  It was predicted that he would need to be institutionalized.  In January of 2001 they started him on bio-medical treatments with Dr. green, including chelation, the gluten/casein-free diet, secretin, and nutritional supplementation.  In one chealtion test he excreted seven times the normal amount of mercury.  The mercury he excretes now is at barely detectible levels.

William is now in 2nd grade with an aide, he’s doing math at a 1st grade level, plays with his sister, and language is emerging.  He’s regained gross motor coordination and has made huge strides.

Cross-Examination of George Mead (Father of William Mead)

Does cross-examining the parent of an autistic child ever go well? 

Not really, but Ms. Esposito did her best.

All she could go after was eliciting some information about when problems first started to arise, when he thought the vaccines contributed to the autism, how he got to the various medical professionals who treated his child, and whether he kept careful records of his son’s problems and progress.

Redirect Examination of Mr. Mead (Father of William Mead)

Mr. Mead talked at greater length about the treatments his son received which have resulted in such wonderful progress.  The point of this was apparently to show that he would not take his child to a medical “quack”, especially given his past employment as a medical malpractice lawyer.

Mr. Mead concluded his testimony by telling how that morning William jumped into bed with him and asked for his father to read to him.  This was a child about whom it was said he’d need to be institutionalized.

Closing Thoughts on this Day of Testimony

I’ve always heard the expression, “don’t get on a sinking ship”, but it’s never meant as much to me as I consider the plight of the government attorneys in this case.  They must be fully aware of how waterlogged their vessel has become.

The prestigious Institute of Medicine in 2004 said there was nothing to this crazy theory, but in the interim all these other articles have been published, the former head of the National Institute of Health goes on the national news to say the theory is credible, and you’ve got this kid, William Mead, who was supposed to be institutionalized, hopping into daddy’s bed wanting dear old dad to read to him!

If you’re a government attorney defending vaccines or a pharmaceutical executive this is the stuff of nightmares.

But for the rest of us I think it’s a new day.

Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.


Kent Heckenlively

Dear Readers:

Let me weigh in on the issue of the young attorneys.

First, there are no Johnnie Cochrans or Jerry Spences in government work. The pay is so low compared to what they are getting that even the best usually stay around for only a few years.

Second, the government is normally such an ill-functioning system (think DMV!) that what is being described doesn't sound unusual to me at all.

Third, this is probaby such a loser case (and trust me, lawyers aren't blind. They understand the weaknesses of their own case as well as its strength), that they could only get the young attorneys they suckered into defending.

Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years those young attorneys who are defending the case are on our side. Such are the disillusionments of youth!

All the best,

Kelli Ann Davis


Just to clarify: there are a *panel* of attorneys working for the government. I saw a total of 4 different attorneys during the 3 days that I attended court, but again they were all relatively young! The male who seemed to be the lead attorney looked to be @ 40 or so.

Nothing along the lines of a Robert Shapiro or Johnny Cochran for sure!!!

I have no idea what that means, but it just seems that they should have the absolute *best* arguing their case and I just don't see that happening with someone who is too young to have enough experience behind them.

Common sense to me.



I got a question people. Is the whole thing a dog and pony show with the outcome already determined?

Two 25 year old attorneys for a case that could cost billions if lost seems very strange.

My wife sustained a relatively minor injury in a car accident and the 25 year old lawyer did the grunt work. The 55 year old seasoned attorney did the courtroom work for 150.000.00 dollar case.

Please people, It's not a rhetorical question. I smell a rat.

Sandy Gottstein

I just want to point out that at the time the IOM said there was no reason to continue studying the vaccines/autism connection, there had already been considerable evidence to support the theory, there was important research about to be published (was it Burbacher?), and perhaps most importantly, such evidence was presented at the hearing. Rep. Dave Weldon practically begged the IOM to postpone the meeting, considering it highly premature, and noted "Further eroding the CDC’s objectivity is the apparent bias in the information shared with the public on the CDC’s NIP website. A review of the information on the website regarding possible associations between thimerosal and autism and the MMR and autism demonstrates a clear bias towards building confidence in the safety of vaccines rather than providing an objective presentation of the data. The CDC’s website presents a very selective reporting of the science. The information provided to the public generally ignores and discounts studies raising safety concerns while focusing instead on highlighting epidemiology studies favoring their position." (http://www.vaccinationnews.com/dailynews/2004/January/Schafer21a.htm )

To read my take on the media response, go to "Scandals: The Irresponsible Media Coverage of the Institute of Medicine Meeting on Autism and Vaccines: at http://www.vaccinationnews.com/Scandals/2004/Feb_17/Scandal72.htm


Craig, I hope you do get words someday. I'm one of the *lucky* one's ... the supposed autism my son had never took away his ability to speak. Only to express his emotions. If he wasn't tantruming, he was a robot. He was made fun of in kindergarten because he still wore pullups. Fortunately, mercury robbed him of any real recollection of anyone laughing at him since at the time he couldn't care less about the world around him. He asked me the other day what autism was ... he heard it on CNN. I told him it is what the doctors said he use to have and I choked back tears as he as the question with emotion and concern and looked me right in the eyes. I wish the same recovery for every other child ... it's worse than criminal what they've done to our kids.

You don't say

"Dr. Kinsbourne believes with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that thimerosal-containing vaccines deliver inorganic mercury to the brain. This idea is not controversial."

Why just the other day the American Medical Association out a report that said mercury was good for you - for your behavioral and neurological function, no less.

Its a strategy

"Maybe they couldn't find anyone at DOJ over 25 years old who would actually think *defending mercury* was a good career move???"

Some mean creepy bastard keeps thowing out these green people to be chewed up - Karp, Tayloe, Offit.....


"Dr. Kinsbourne has testified in about 130 vaccine injury cases, claiming vaccines can cause a wide variety of injuries, from encephalitis, seizure disorders, ADEM, septicemia, and autism."

Offit was so busy making his vaccine, he must have missed this. Someone needs to tell him. Quick, before he makes a bigger ass of himself.

Oh, wait a moment, do we really care? Nah.

Craig Willoughby

Kathy, I agree with you 100%. It just goes to show their narrow-mindedness when they just can't seem to believe that a child diagnosed with Autism can get better. I mean, for goodness sakes, the IOM and AAP gods tell them that autistic children can't get any better, so it MUST be true. These alternative treatements that all of these parents use are just snake-oils and quacks taking advantage of grieving parents. This follow-the-herd-mentality, this believing everything that the demon For-Profit Offit tells them, this unwillingness or inability to think for themselves, is more damaging to our children than just about anything I've seen. What has the medical industry done for my son? They took away his speech and his ability to look me in the eyes, to hug me, to want to be hugged and loved. They also gave him the need to smear his feces on the walls. Oh, sure, they helped remove his intestinal blockage from the ROCKS HE WAS TRYING TO EAT. Yes, they've been SO helpful to my son. What has the alternative treatment gotten me? He looks me in the eye, now. He wants to be hugged and snuggled with. He smiles now and wants to play. He still can't speak, but I'm not giving up hope on that.

I'll take the snake oil any day of the week, thank you.


"My son never had autism? Maybe not, he was just one of the susceptible ones. Rewind 3 years and go tell that mother sobbing in the car, it was all a joke and her kid didn't have autism."

I think we all sob a little everyday - you don't need to produce real salty tears to sob you know. I hope I can get to the point where one day I can stop sobbing. We just put on the brave face and go about our business nevermind how down-to-the-bone tired we are. Hoping one day this will all end.

They say you get day after night. This is a VERY long night we are having.

Kelli Ann Davis

Kid you not -- the government attorney who cross-examined George Mead did not look a day over 24 years old!!

Now I have no problem with age but when you've got *billions* of dollars at stake, wouldn't it make sense to have the most experienced attorneys fighting the battle?

It was absolutely striking to me how incredibly young both the female government attorneys looked!! I leaned over to Theresa W. and made the comment that I would have expected a "Johnny Cochran" or "Robert Shaprio" to be at the helm, not two twenty-somethings who looked like they just stepped out of law school.

Maybe they couldn't find anyone at DOJ over 25 years old who would actually think *defending mercury* was a good career move???

Fed Up


Thanks for these informative postings, it's very valuable to have a legal viewpoint on how the trial is going. I will agree that the evidence presented so far is very strong, especially the Burbacher paper. Some of those cross examinations really sounded like conversations rather than legal search and destroy missions. The govt. attorneys have almost nothing to hang their hat on.


Didn't have autism to begin with? This pisses me off as much as the pet shampoo theory.

Honestly. I still remember the day I took my son and demanded his pediatrician pay attention to the symptoms my son was exhibiting. I had always brought up my concerns at the supposed well baby visits which I now call poisoning baby visits. So here's my son now almost 5 *presenting* autistic symptoms.

Yes, I'm told, my son is either a genius or autistic. I'll take genius but I really got autistic that day. I mean, I knew my son was smart problem was, he was stuck in his own genius world and I hadn't a clue how to bring him out. I hadn't a clue how to make him be more interested in me rather than the tile floor in the pediatrician's office. I hadn't a clue how to get him to look me in the eye. I hadn't a clue how to have him throw his arms around me and say I love you mommy! I hadn't a clue. All I got that day was your son is autistic more than likely but he's obviously high functioning. The pediatrician went on to tell me about his experience identifying a grown man who he knew has Asperger's. He went on to tell me how my son may not have friends, wouldn't know how to socialize properly but he's obviously quite bright and might do ok.

Might do ok?

I sobbed in my car that day. My husband took Alex home as we had two cars and I just sobbed. I sobbed to think my son wouldn't have a friend. I sobbed thinking my son may be brilliant but may not be able to dress himself properly or know when to go the bathroom. I sobbed because that was the day they told me my son was autistic.

Fast forward to 8 years old after biomedical interventions and chelation.

My son has friends. My son can dress himself although sometimes his shorts may be on backwards, he's funny, he's intelligent, he's creative and most importantly he looks me in the eye and tells me on his very own that he loves me.

My son never had autism? Maybe not, he was just one of the susceptible ones. Rewind 3 years and go tell that mother sobbing in the car, it was all a joke and her kid didn't have autism.

Craig Willoughby

"you’ve got this kid, William Mead, who was supposed to be institutionalized, hopping into daddy’s bed wanting dear old dad to read to him!"

Kent, sadly, the vaccinophiles (love the word, Kim...hope you don't mind if I borrow it) are going to say, "Well, it's obvious this child did not have autism."
Funny, I'm sure he had a diagnosis of Autism before he went to vaccine court. They don't seem to understand how ridiculous they sound when they spout off that ill-informed and narrow-minded statement. They did it with Hannah Poling and the Krakow child; they were both diagnosed with an ASD, their parents worked tirelessly to pull them back from Autism, and all of a sudden, after the vaccine court proceedings, they "didn't really have autism."

I know I said this before, but maybe I should pack up my kids and head over there and get my kid cured by Vaccine Court.

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