Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Charles Smith: Ontario: Part Four of ten. 'What kind of man' series: What kind of man - a man who admitted at a public inquiry that he sorely lacked the most basic qualifications required to practice forensic pathology - was all too willing to help ensure the conviction of innocent people by brutally disparaging the opinions of genuine forensic pathologists?


In a recent post on Dr. Colin Manock - the  self-styled  forensic 'expert' who was not qualified to do death investigations and was responsible for Henry Keogh's wrongful conviction, and who knows how many others, I raised the question 'what kind of man would allow himself to play such a destructive, harmful role in his state's criminal justice system?'  The post can be accessed at:

The post was based upon a two part documentary report by Graham Archer  on 'todaytonight Adelaide' which appeared on March 21, 2016 which I noted goes a long way to answering this fundamental question. (Part One takes us to the tiny opal mining South Australian settlement of Mintabie in 1978 where Manock performs an outdoor autopsy on an aboriginal man - even though private, in-door cool-room facilities are available, In the words of reporter Graham Archer: "His plan is to demonstrate his mortuary skills before the entire community. Miners, Aboriginal people, women and perhaps even children congregate around in stunned belief. He then goes to work on the body of the deceased - someone's father - someone's brother - someone's son."  Mulla Sumner, an Aboriginal elder interjects: "Well, my sort of response to that, and what I can see is that he gutted this  bloke in public, he gutted him took out his insides. Graham Archer responds: "That's what happens in autopsies. The skull is cut open, the brain removed as are the organs of the body. The bystanders, especially the Aboriginal people, must have been horrified at this indignity - the desecration of the poor man in public.") Following through on this "what kind of man theme, I am beginning a series in which I will republish posts published over the past seven years which shed light on the same question, when posed with respect to another forensic fraud who destroyed the lives of innocent people  through the perverse role he played in the criminal justice system - who, in a public inquiry admitted his lack of qualifications to determine crucial matters such as the cause of death - disgraced pathologist Charles Randal Smith, the namesake of this Blog. Todays focus:  What kind of man - a man who admitted at a public inquiry that he sorely lacked the most basic qualifications required to conduct forensic pathology - was all too  willing to help ensure the conviction of innocent people by brutally  disparaging the opinions of  genuine forensic pathologists?

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog; 


 Sunday, February 24, 2008

 Dr. Smith's Character: The Nasty Side: Part One: A Tendency to Cut Up Other Experts - So To Speak;

.........Another indicator of a nasty side is his attitude to some of his counter-parts in the world of pathology, as revealed from court transcripts.

Like Dr. Sukrita Nag, for example.

Dr. Nag is the neuro-pathologist who performed the autopsy on baby Dustin at Kingston General Hospital on November 18, 1992;

Here is what Dr. Smith had to say about Dr. Nag at the Dustin's father's preliminary hearing on charges of manslaughter and failure to provide the necessities of life.

"This is a botched autopsy," Doctor Smith told Court.

"The report of this autopsy, the paper that this autopsy is written on is not worthy of filing as an exhibit.

It should be filed in the garbage can.

I'm sorry to say it, but I would not accept this report from a resident in pathology. I don't care who signed their name to it.

It is wrong from the word "go."

If you look at the demographics on this report, the information is wrong.

Whoever signed this report either did not read the hospital chart, did not read the report before they signed it or they did not care.

I don't know which of those explanations is correct."

Dr. Smith also told the defence lawyer that he would say these things directly to Dr. Nag if she were present in court.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Dr. Smith could have drawn the judge's attention to defects in Doctor Nag's work - as was his job - without humiliating her publicly by suggesting it was garbage.

Here was Dr Charles Randal Smith, who has been criticized by independent experts for the sub-standard quality of his autopsy reports in numerous cases, chastising a colleague who had been assigned the solemn task of performing an autopsy on a deceased child.

Having attacked the professional competence of Dr. Nag, Dr. Smith then went on to lie under oath about Judge Patrick Dunn - the judge who had severely criticized his work in the Amber case - saying that Judge Dunn "in fact told me on more than one occasion -- private conversations -- how hasty he was with the work I had done and others had done, at the hospital."

(Dr. Smith acknowledged during his evidence at the Goudge Inquiry that this alleged conversation with Judge Dunn never occurred.)

Dr. Smith agreed with Commission counsel Linda Rothstein that his characterization of his colleagues work was "uncharitable."

In cross-examination by lawyer James Lockyer, who represents nine families affected by Dr. Smith's work, at the Goudge Inquiry, Smith also acknowledged that his characterization of Dr. John Plunkett in courtroom testimony was "uncharitable".

Dr. Plunkett's views on the harm that can be caused by accidental falls differed significantly from Dr. Smith's

Lockyer cited the following cross-examination of Dr. Smith;

"Are you aware of the work of a Dr. John Plunkett in this area?


Do you know him personally?


Just his work then?


Have you reviewed his work?

I've seen his papers.

Do you have an opinion on his papers with respect to the force that may cause injury from an accidental fall?

I'm aware of a paper published recently that dealt with that, yes.

And do you agree with his findings?

No, I don't know anyone who does."

Dr. Smith told Lockyer that although he did not remember the specific testimony, "I do accept that this is what I said."

Let's put this in context;

Dr. Smith - who was a highly respected expert witness - (often referred to as the top forensic pediatric pathologist in the country) - had the right to say that he disagreed with Dr. Plunkett's findings.

But he went beyond that to state that Dr. Plunkett's work had been rejected by every other expert in the country, if not the world.

In short he denigrated Dr. Plunkett's work, by treating him as a pariah, whose opinion's were not worth considering

Not nice.

Dr. Plunkett was not the only researcher who Dr. Smith denigrated.

There was also Dr. Charles Ferguson - a Winnipeg expert who was one of the many defence experts in the Amber case who took strong issue with Dr. Smith's conclusions that Amber had been shaken to death.

Judge Dunn was extremely impressed by Dr. Ferguson's evidence;

"Turning now to the Canadian specialist called by the defence. Dr. Charles
Ferguson graduated in medicine in 1957, and he's been a pediatrician since 1968,"
Dunn said in his decision on the Amber case;

"He's currently Director of the Child Protection Centre in Winnipeg Children's Hospital.

Dr. Ferguson has lectured on the mechanics of injury. I consider Dr. Ferguson to be an expert in forensic investigation.

This amazing man, and I say so with great respect, has testified in court proceedings over one thousand one hundred (1,100) times.

I was very impressed by his experience, by his careful method of approaching new or
dubious evidence; by his common sense and by his fairness in looking at all
sides of an issue."

But to Dr. Smith, Dr. Ferguson was merely "an expert from Winnipeg who's regarded as a 'paid mouth'."

As the following transcript of evidence from the Goudge Inquiry shows, Lawyer Lockyer was infuriated by Dr. Smith's characterization of the Winnipeg researcher.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER; Do you remember saying that, sir?

DR. CHARLES SMITH: I don't remember, but I recognize that that was uncharitable, yes.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Outrageous, isn't it, an outrageous thing to say? It's not just uncharitable. I'm not going to let you get away with that.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: That was certainly a view that was -- that was held of him, but it's un --


DR. CHARLES SMITH: -- uncharitable. I am -- well, I held that view, yes. You could ask others.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Well, perhaps I should ask Justice Dunn.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: The -- no, you keep going with your questions. I was going to --

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Mm-hm, mm-hm.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: I was going to sort of try and understand your question here, but keep going, I'm sorry. Well, I -- I acknowledged that my testimony was not helpful.The issue as to Shaken Baby Syndrome in this case is an issue that I think many people could debate for years.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: What does that mean? our testimony was not helpful: What on earth does that mean? You -- you mean -- doesn't it simply mean that your testimony had the potential to lead to a miscarriage of justice? "Unhelpful" is an odd word to
use, Mr. Smith.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: No, I -- I believe that that's a correct word.


DR. CHARLES SMITH: I certainly recognize that --


DR. CHARLES SMITH: -- I was dogmatic and defensive, yes..."

Dr. Smith has acknowledged in his evidence that he believed his duty was to help the prosecution win the case.

How dare he suggest in court that Dr. Ferguson was a hired gun?

Dr. Smith's ultimate degradation of a colleague while giving evidence in court would appear to be his comments on Dr. Rex Ferris, his nemesis.

Dr. Ferris is a forensic pathologist, whose opinion that Sharon had been savaged by a dog - and not by stab-wounds from knives and scissors as Smith had opined - had helped exonerate the child's mother.

The transcript of lawyer Lockyer's cross-examination of Dr. Smith about his characterization of Ferris to the Court tells all - including his failure to mention his involvement with Ferris in Sharon's case and his provision of misleading information about Ferris to the Court;

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: And then at the bottom of this page, sir, you're asked about Dr. Ferris:

"Are you aware of Dr. Rex Ferris?


Do you respect Dr. Ferris' work?


And may I ask why not?

I don't know anyone in the area of pediatric forensic work in Canada who respects his work in the area of pediatric forensic work."

At line 15:

"Is there perhaps, Dr. Smith, a publication or a particular case in which you've been involved in that leads you to say you don't respect Dr. Ferris' work?"

Your answer to that should've have been, Yes, shouldn't it, don't you think?


MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Sharon's case.


MR. JAMES LOCKYER: But you didn't say that, did you?

DR. CHARLES SMITH: I -- I had not --

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Chances are the cross-examiner wouldn't have know about Sharon's case at this point in time, but you sure did -- and Dr. Ferris' involvement in it.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: I'm sorry, what's your question?

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: I say your answer to that question --


MR. JAMES LOCKYER: -- should have been "yes". Is there, perhaps, a publication or a particular case in which you've been involved in that leads you to say you don't respect Dr. Ferris' work?

DR. CHARLES SMITH: I -- I answered it as best I --


DR. CHARLES SMITH: -- remembered it at that time.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Well, let's see how you answered it:

"My struggle with the question, Your Honour, is whether it will get me in trouble legally if I answer it.

Q: What kind of trouble? Liable and slander, says the Court." And then the Court says: "Is there something you can have an intellectual disagreement with while still respecting another doctor's ability so it wouldn't be considered to be some kind of professional attack?" And you said: "Obviously, I know Rex Ferris." And then you say: "I mean James Ferris is his proper name, and I've known him for twenty 20) years. I've never seen him give an opinion on a pediatric case in which
I think he is close to reasonable. He doesn't practice pediatric forensic pathology." There's a real irony to that, isn't there, because nor did you? And then you go on: "He was excluded from doing so in British Columbia for many years before he lost his position in pediatric forensic pathology in British Columbia." and that's simply not true, is it, sir.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: No, that's what I understood.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: He just changed positions. He just moved on in his life.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: No, that's not what I -- what I was referring to, as best I can recall.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: "And his knowledge of pediatric pathology, in general, is not of a level that I think he has any special expertise in the area." I mean as you read this kind of statement by you now, sir, under oath, it must make you shiver,
17 doesn't it? Like you could be describing yourself, couldn't you? You could say -- you -- you'd say that about yourself now. You have no special expertise in the area; any more than anyone else.

DR. CHARLES SMITH: No, I believe I have expertise in pediatric pathology, in general.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: Now you're talking bout pediatric forensic pathology, sir; that's the -- that's the phrase that you've been using, isn't it, as you testify?
Do you see that? line 4, line 7, right? And then you say at line 15 "I just happen to think that in pediatric forensic pathology, I have no respect for Dr. Ferris' opinions. I cannot give you any statements about his work in adult forensic pathology. It's the area that was car -- his career and he worked in that for
decades before retiring, but in the pediatric realm, I do not respect his opinions though he is a very nice man."

MR> JAMES LOCKYER: Do you remember saying that, sir, about this man?

DR. CHARLES SMITH: No, I don't, but I read it, and I accept that I made those statements.

MR. JAMES LOCKYER: To me, that just shows the arrogance of yourself, sir, in the days that you were testifying as a purported pediatric forensic pathologist, am I right?

DR. CHARLES SMITH: I -- I do not interpret that to be arrogance.


DR. CHARLES SMITH: I was asked an opinion. I was asked a question about Dr. Ferris. I answered it truthfully, but very uncharitably and unkindly, but I answered truthfully the question that I was asked."

Dr. Smith's willingness to disparage genuine forensic pathologists and others who disagree with him tells us a great deal about his character.

But it is the fact that he disparaged them from the witness box when he was selling the Crown's case - with the risk that an innocent parent or caregiver could be sent to jail - that disturbs me the most.

This is about more than Dr. Smith's assault on the reputation of some professionals.

It's about miscarriages of justice - and how easily they can be caused;