Friday, July 20, 2018

Sex crime investigations: (Part 4). Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview: Some friendly advice to the Waterloo Regional Police..."There was evidence, in some cases, of gender bias," Casselman told CBC News. Task Force: "There was evidence that officers had not been trained or weren't using trauma-informed investigations."...Publisher's Note: "So I am hoping that this post will somehow be drawn to the attention of the Waterloo Regional force and the Board that runs it - before they put in place an unproven, possibly dangerous technique for investigating alleged sex crimes."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: As previously noted on this Blog, Cressida Dick, Scotland Yard's new Commissioner, (appointed about a year ago),  has changed her force's policy from always believing  the 'victims' from the outset because they are inherently being truthful,  to one of investigating sexual assault claims  thoroughly and impartially.  Commissioner Dick was careful to insist that officers keep an open mind, treat complainants with respect and dignity,  listen to them and  record what they say.  But she stressed that "From that moment on, we are investigators." There is of course the crucial question as to what constitutes an investigation. One of the suggestions made by the report of the committee which reviewed 78 old sexual assault cases that were recorded as unfounded by Waterloo regional police, is "training officers in trauma-informed investigation techniques." A word of caution to the Waterloo regional police: Read my previous post (July 7. 2018) on Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI), which appeared under the heading, "FETI: (Forensic Experiential Trauma interview) At last, an objective assessment of this still unproven technique for interviewing sex crime complainants. Bravo to author Wendy McElroy and The Independent Institute."...I opened up with the following Publisher's Note: "It is  so refreshing to see such an honest, evidence-based critique of FETI (Forensic Experiential Trauma interview) as this one  - as most stories on the latest policing flavor of the month  (FETI) fail to point out that there is not yet  a scientific consensus   that this method of interviewing sex crime complainants  (under 'FETI' they are called victims)  has a solid neurological basis. (Most stories also fail to point out the potential dangers of using the much touted FETI technique - such as the unintended planting of false facts in the mind of the person being interviewed.) Bravo to author Wendy McElroy." I then continued with the following Passage of the  day. "The manual offers advice on how to engage a traumatized person’s primitive brain. The interviewer assures the interviewee that she is believed, for example, and he does not “dive into crime details, unless victim wants to do so.” When she describes the crime, he is to realize that inconsistencies are normal, not a sign of lying. Moreover, when an account is disjointed, the interviewer translates “it into a report that makes sense.” Traditionally, an investigator’s job is to get a straight-forward narrative that determines whether criminal charges are appropriate. He does not fill in the blanks. FETI refers to an accuser as “the victim,” which damages a basic principle of justice known as the presumption of innocence for an accused. The presumption now shifts to the “victim,” who is automatically assumed to be telling the truth. The burden of proof shifts to the accused. Before radically changing police standards and basic principles of justice, a question must be asked. Does FETI even work? FETI advocates point to its widespread use in the military as proof of legitimacy. But the U.S. Air Force explicitly rejected FETI, stating, “Given the lack of empirical evidence on FETI’s effectiveness, and the large number of investigative, professional and scientific concerns regarding FETI and FETI training, the Air Force does not consider FETI as a viable option for investigative interviewing. We believe it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to discontinue the use of a robust, well-studied, effective, and empirically-validated interviewing method…in favor of an interviewing method that is loosely-constructed, is based on flawed science, makes unfounded claims about its effectiveness, and has never once been tested, studied, researched or validated.” So I  am hoping that this post  will somehow be drawn to the attention of the Waterloo Regional force and the Board that runs it - before they put in place an unproven, possibly dangerous technique for investigating alleged sex crimes.

The previous post can be found at the link below:
 http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2018/07/feti-forensic-experiential-trauma.html

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

-------------------------------------------------------------------

PASSAGE OF THE DAY:  "The group looked at 78 unfounded cases from 2015 and 2016 that involved a victim over the age of 16 and a suspect over the age of 18.  Of those, the committee agreed with the final decision reached in 47 cases, but did not agree with the decision reached in 20 cases. Committee members also felt that in 11 cases the investigation was either incomplete or inadequate, not allowing them to reach a conclusion.  "There was evidence, in some cases, of gender bias," Casselman told CBC News. "There was evidence that officers had not been trained or weren't using trauma-informed investigations."

----------------------------------------------------------

STORY: "Task force releases final report on 'unfounded' sexual assault cases," published by CBC News on July 11, 2018.

SUB-HEADING:  "Review committee disagrees with 'inappropriate techniques' used in at least 26 per cent of cases."

PHOTO CAPTION: "The task force has been reviewing 78 old sexual assault cases that were recorded as unfounded by Waterloo regional police."


GIST: "A committee that has been combing through old sexual assault cases recorded as unfounded by Waterloo Regional Police says it disagrees with the final decision made in at least 26 per cent of the cases that were reviewed.  The Sexual Assault Task Force began its work in 2017, after a Globe and Mail report revealed that the number of sexual assault cases recorded as unfounded in Waterloo region was 27 percent, higher than the national average of 19 per cent. "That statistic was staggering," said Sara Casselman, executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Waterloo Region and co-chair of the review committee, "and created a lot of media attention and public attention to that issue." 78 cases reviewed: The group looked at 78 unfounded cases from 2015 and 2016 that involved a victim over the age of 16 and a suspect over the age of 18.  Of those, the committee agreed with the final decision reached in 47 cases, but did not agree with the decision reached in 20 cases. Committee members also felt that in 11 cases the investigation was either incomplete or inadequate, not allowing them to reach a conclusion.  "There was evidence, in some cases, of gender bias," Casselman told CBC News. "There was evidence that officers had not been trained or weren't using trauma-informed investigations."  And although it wasn't in the group's mandate to re-open old files, she said the group had serious concerns about two cases and did send them back to police. 11 recommendations: In their report, the review committee made 11 recommendations to improve future sexual assault investigations.

Suggestions included:
  • Training on how to ensure rape myths and gender bias are not part of sexual assault investigations.
  • Procedures that ensure victims are able to speak with an officer of the gender of their choosing.
  • Training officers in trauma-informed investigation techniques.
The group also wants to see ongoing reviews of sexual assault cases, starting in 2019 — something that has "significantly reduced unfounded rates" in the United States, and Casselman hopes will also improve the rate of offenders who are charged.  She said police have already accepted all of the recommendations, and have been incredibly supportive throughout the process. "I can't imagine, as an advocate, 10 years ago, ever having full access to police files and being able to critique them," she said. "It is a different world out there, that we have that kind of access.""

The entire story can be read  at:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/task-force-releases-final-report-on-unfounded-sexual-assault-cases-1.4741066

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Book Revue Series (Part 9): Amanda Knox: A case of flagrant miscarriage of justice which struck an international nerve: A compendium of books, documentaries and much more, thanks to the website 'Injustice anywhere' which describes itself as "a website about the murder of Meredith Kercher and a scandalous miscarriage of justice." (A real treasure-chest of materials on the case. HL)


Round bookshelf in public library

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In the roughly 10 years since I began publishing The Charles Smith Blog some of the issues I have explored - as well as some of the cases I have been following - have become the subject matter of books. This prompted me recently - as I searched anxiously for ways of keeping me occupied during the languid summer hours - other than sitting on the patio, drinking a cool glass of white wine, and reading the latest Steven King - it occurred to me that a book review series based in my previous posts from the outset of the Blog would be just what the pathologist ordered. I would invite my readers to offer me their own suggestions  for inclusion by email to hlevy15@gmail.com. Have a great summer.

Harold Levy: Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

----------------------------------------------------------

PS:  Please let me know if there are any other materials that should be added to the list to bring it up to date - at my website hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

-----------------------------------------------------------

POST: "Amanda Knox Case Books &  Documentaries,  a  list of books and documentaries about the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito case, published by 'Injustice Anywhere, a website about the murder of Meredith Kercher and a scandalous miscarriage of justice.

GIST:




    DOCUMENTARIES:


    48 Hours” – A Long Way From Home (April 2008) – Not Available


    “48 Hours” – American Girl, Italian Nightmare (April 2009)
    “48 Hours” – American Girl, Italian Murder: The Verdict (December 2009)
    “48 Hours” – Amanda Knox The Untold Story (October 2011)
    Amanda Knox Trial: 5 Key Questions (2013) Not Available – “The police conducted a Mickey Mouse investigation based on presumption, conjecture and intuition and it frightens me to death to think that you can go to jail for a very long time based on that evidence.”
    Sex, Lies and The Murder Of Meredith Kercher (2008)
    Amanda Knox Panel – The Case for Innocence April 4, 2011 – A forum of forensic experts and authors gather at the James C. Pigott Pavilion on the Seattle University campus.
    Justice On Trial – Italy (2011) – Looking back at the Amanda Knox murder appeal and whether Italy’s legal system made a serious lapse in even putting her on trial.
    True Stories: The Trials of Amanda Knox directed by Garfield Kennedy (2010)
    Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story (2011) – CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reveals new details that cast doubts upon controversial blood, knife, DNA, and other evidence presented in Knox’s original trial.
    CNN Crimes of the Century: Amanda Knox (2013)
    ABC 20/20 Amanda Knox: Guilty. Again (no longer available)
    ABC 20/20: Key Moments From the Amanda Knox Appeal
    Why Amanda Knox was innocent with retired FBI Steve Moore March 2014 – CrimeTime with Jim Clemente
    Amanda Knox Trial & Media Fiasco with Jim Clemente March 6, 2014
    Amanda Knox – 100% Innocent, Presentation by Judge Mike Heavey Issaquah Rotary on April 2, 2013
    L’omicidio di Meredith Kercher February 2014 – Ospite in studio Raffaele Sollecito che risponde alle domande di Roberta Bruzzone e Vittorio Feltri
    Meredith: i segreti nella casa del delitto January 2009 – Porta Porta has a short interview with Marco Quintavalle starting at 40.10
    Quarto Grado March 27, 2015
    La gabbia – Quale giustizia? Puntata March 29, 2015
    Sollecito, confessions of an ex monster October 2015 – Raffaele Sollecito, Gherardo Colombo (former judge) and Paolo Crepet (psychiatrist) guests of Lilli Gruber

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    SHORTER CLIPS:

    Van Sant’s Notebook April 12, 2009 – Peter Van Sant previews his report on the Amanda Knox case and how a 48 Hours investigation reveals disturbing evidence, questionable witnesses and a satanic conspiracy.
    Background of Knox Case – Paul Ciolino talks to Peter Van Sant
    Amanda Knox: Fighting for Freedom Elizabeth Vargas, ABC News, June 12, 2009
    Digital Age-Did the Social Media Help Convict Amanda Knox? – Journalist Nina Burleigh followed the media saturated Amanda Knox case from start to finish. She concludes that Knox’ Italian murder conviction, later overturned on appeal, was a total miscarriage of justice.
    Parla Raffaele Sollecito December 2010 Rai.tv
    Raffaele Sollecito “Non sono stato io”: ecco la versione di Raffaele! March 2014
    Meurtre à Perouse April 2014 Swiss TV – Jacques Secretan analyses the case: “Two lives are at stake and this is a miscarriage of justice.”
    CrimeTime July 2014 – Jim Clemente discusses the continuing controversy over Amanda Knox and takes a look at the case for her innocence and Italian prosecution misdeeds.
    CrimeTime August 2014 – Amanda Knox Evidence & False Confessions with James Curtis.
    Professor Peter Gill on Porta a Porta – March 12, 2015

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BOOKS:

    Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox
    Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox by Raffaele Sollecito & Andrew Gumbel
    Murder in Italy: The Shocking Slaying of a British Student, the Accused American Girl, and an International Scandal by Candace Dempsey
    Injustice in Perugia: a Book Detailing the Wrongful Conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito by Bruce Fischer
    The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox by Nina Burleigh
    Finding Justice in Perugia: a follow-up to Injustice in Perugia: a book detailing the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito by Bruce Fischer
    The Monster of Perugia: The Framing of Amanda Knox by Mark Waterbury PhD
    The Forgotten Killer: Rudy Guede and the Murder of Meredith Kercher by Douglas Preston, John Douglas, Mark Olshaker, Steve Moore, Judge Michael Heavy, Jim Lovering and Thomas Lee Wright
    Trial By Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case by Doug Preston
    Law & Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice by John Douglas &  Mark Olshaker
    Single Attacker Theory Of The Murder Of Meredith Kercher by Ron Hendry
    When Innocence Doesn’t Matter: Ordeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito by Ron Hendry
    Misleading DNA Evidence: Reasons for Miscarriages of Justice by Professor Peter Gill

    http://www.amandaknoxcase.com/documentaries-books/

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Thursday, July 19, 2018

    Book Review Series: (Part 8): My review of John Chipman's memorable book on Charles Smith's victim's, as previously published on this Blog...""While working on the Smith story for almost 15 years, I did my best to channel the simmering anger I felt at seeing so many grieving parents and caregivers turned into child killers as Smith manufactured murder where none existed. But as Chipman drew me deeper and deeper into the lives of people affected - like Bill Mulllins-Johnson, Lianne Thibeault, Tammy Marquardt, Brenda Waudby, the baby sitter in Timmins, Anthony Kporwodu and Angela Veno – I found my simmering anger turning into near rage. (This is the first book I have read in years that proved capable of moving me so profoundly." HL)..





    Round bookshelf in public library


    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In the roughly 10 years since I began publishing The Charles Smith Blog some of the issues I have explored - as well as some of the cases I have been following - have become the subject matter of books. This prompted me recently - as I searched anxiously for ways of keeping me occupied during the languid summer hours - other than sitting on the patio, drinking a cool glass of white wine, and reading the latest Steven King - it occurred to me that a book review series based in my previous posts from the outset of the Blog would be just what the pathologist ordered. I would invite my readers to offer me their own suggestions  for inclusion by email to hlevy15@gmail.com. Have a great summer.

    Harold Levy: Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "A review of a 400-page book can scarcely do justice to its subject matter – especially when each one of  the cases discussed could have been a book in itself. One of the questions most asked about Smith, is how a man who purported  be a good Christian and to love the little children,   could have  lied, twisted, distorted, perjured,  ‘lost’ evidence which showed his opinions were wrong,  destroyed  lives, and brought discredit to Ontario’s criminal justice system. Chipman wisely avoids the usual psychobabble with which people have attempted to explain Smith  - an immensely private man – as he focuses instead on how Smith was perceived through his victim’s eyes.  Most had never heard of Charles Smith before their loved one  died. Now they will never forget him." (HL);

    --------------------------------------------------------

    BOOK REVIEW: "Death in the Family," by John Chipman; (Penguin/Random House - published  on The Charles Smith Blog on January 14, 2017); Reviewed by Harold Levy; Publisher; "The Charles Smith Blog."
     
    GIST: "Almost ten years ago, Justice Stephen Goudge released his report on his Inquiry into many of former doctor Charles Smith’s cases. During this time, I have been hoping that a seasoned journalist would write a definitive  book  on Smith and the impact he had on his victims, their families and Ontario’s criminal justice system. Fortunately, that challenge has been taken on by CBC producer John Chipman, author of  “Death in the Family” published earlier this month by  Penguin/Random House. Having devoted several years to the research and writing of this book,  Chipman demonstrates an ability to approach his task dispassionately  while  leaving the reader in no doubt about the outrageous betrayal of Smith’s victims by the institutions that were supposed to protect them. The list includes the crusading “think dirty’  Chief Coroner’s Office,  the zealous Hospital for Sick Children (Smith’s employer), The College of Physicians and Surgeons (his  oh-so-weak regulator),  incompetent police officers,  prosecutors who paraded Smith before the courts as if he were a forensic  ‘God’, heavy-handed children’s aid societies,  and those media who chose to glorify Smith and help him transform himself from a nonentity to the celebrated Dr. Charles Randal Smith. While working on the Smith story for almost 15 years, I did my best to channel the simmering anger I felt at seeing so many grieving parents and caregivers  turned into child killers as Smith manufactured murder where none existed. But as Chipman drew me deeper and deeper  into  the lives of  people affected  - like Bill Mulllins-Johnson,  Lianne Thibeault,  Tammy Marquardt, Brenda Waudby, the baby sitter in  Timmins, Anthony Kporwodu and   Angela Veno – I found my simmering anger turning into near rage. (This is the first book I have read in years that  proved capable of moving me so profoundly). I challenge anyone not to feel the same seering  emotions  when reading one of the chapter in which  Tammy Marquardt (an innocent woman whose son died of  disease)    arrives, as a convicted child murderer (thanks to Charles Smith),  at the maximum-security Prison for Women “After intake , the new inmates were taken  to  see the OIC, or the officer-in-charge. His name was Barry McGuinness, and he had some words of advice for Tammy. “If you want that child to live,” he said, pointing to her stomach, “you don’t  tell anyone  what you’re in here  for.” It had never occurred to Tammy that none of the other  inmates  would know what she was in for. She asked McGuinness what she should say if  people asked. “Tell them you killed your husband,”  he said. It was good advice, crucial advice; advice he didn’t have to give her. She was never sure whether he told her for her baby’s sake, for her own safety or to save himself the trouble of dealing with the aftermath if an inmate tried to beat her to death.” Also riveting  is Chipman’s account of Marquardt’s  first meeting with one of P4W’s  most famous inmates at the time. “Hi, I’m Karla,” a bubbly  Homolka said outside  Tammy’s cell. “If  you need anything, just holler up and I’ll get it for you .” Tammy only nodded. She couldn’t bring herself to respond.” After finishing my read of  ‘Death in the family,’   I was struck by how much I had learned -  and how much more I understood  - even though I had been researching and writing about Smith for more than 15 years. Indeed, ‘Death in the Family’  contains a revelation, that took me totally by surprise, in which Chipman, using his investigative talents, provides a credible non-criminal  explanation of a baby’s death, which may have  eluded death investigators, police, prosecutors, the parents themselves – and even their lawyers." This is breath-taking. It’s Canadian journalism at its best. A review of a 400-page book can scarcely do justice to its subject matter – especially when each one of  the cases discussed could have been a book in itself. One of the questions most asked about Smith, is how a man who purported  be a good Christian and to love the little children,   could have  lied, twisted, distorted, perjured,  ‘lost’ evidence which showed his opinions were wrong,  destroyed  lives, and brought discredit to Ontario’s criminal justice system. Chipman wisely avoids the usual psychobabble with which people have attempted to explain Smith  - an immensely private man – as he focuses instead on how Smith was perceived through his victim’s eyes.  Most had never heard of Charles Smith before their loved one  died. Now they will never forget him. Death in the family’ is a  marvelous, timely, humane, gripping read, loaded with insight,  and shedding light on  one of the most egregious series of miscarriages of justice in Ontario’s history. Go for it!"

    To order:
    http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/228817/death-in-the-family-by-john-chipman/9780385680844/

    The entire review can be read at the link below;
    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

    Sex Crime Investigation series. (Part 3): National Post columnist Barbara Kay (Another favourite of this Bog. HL): She writes about, "A sadly necessary handbook for men falsely accused of sexual assault," saying, "It is a sad commentary on our culture that few people care what happens to men falsely charged with sex crimes."..." It is a sad commentary on our culture that such a book needed to be written, but the reality is that, apart from their immediate circles of family and friends, very few people, including law enforcement, care what happens to men falsely charged with sex crimes."


    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: As previously noted on this Blog, Cressida Dick, Scotland Yard's new Commissioner, (appointed about a year ago),  has changed her force's policy from always believing  the 'victims' from the outset because they are inherently being truthful,  to one of investigating sexual assault claims  thoroughly and impartially.  Commissioner Dick was careful to insist that officers keep an open mind, treat complainants with respect and dignity,  listen to them and  record what they say.  But she stressed that "From that moment on, we are investigators." The wisdom of Commissioner Dick's approach is confirmed by National Post columnist Barbara Kay's powerful commentary, as follows.

    Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    PASSAGE  ONE OF THE DAY: "The feminist rubric is: believe the victim; don’t look for discrediting evidence; false allegations are extremely rare. That simply isn’t true. Not today and not historically. Retired international lawyer and former U.S. prosecutor John Davis, who brings depth of experience in rape and sexual assault cases to his argumentation, reminds us, in his book, False Accusation of Rape: Lynching in the 21st Century, of the thousands of cases of white women who — knowing the dire consequences — falsely accused black men of sexually inappropriate conduct. Don’t we all wish that the story of the white woman who in 1955 falsely accused black martyr 14-year old Emmett Till of winking at her in her family’s grocery store had been subjected to rigorous scrutiny in a gender and race-blind courtroom."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

     PASSAGE TWO OF THE DAY: "

    "We must resist any tweaks to the justice system born of sympathy to presumed rape victims that diminishes a defendant’s right to the best possible defence. As Davis notes, “False accusations of rape are not about sex … like the crime of rape itself, false accusations of rape are about power.” Powerful men have been named and shamed for their sexual transgressions. Powerful false accusers should be named and shamed as well."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------



    COMMENTARY:  "A sadly necessary handbook for men falsely accused of sexual assault, by National Post columnist Barbara Kay, published  on December 19, 2017.
     
    SUB-HEADING: "It is a sad commentary on our culture that few people care what happens to men falsely charged with sex crimes."

    GIST: "Liam Allan, a 22-year old London, England-area criminology student, spent two years “in a terrible form of limbo” when he was charged with 12 counts of rape, based on allegations by a woman (unnamed) with whom he had had a consensual sexual relationship. Had Allan been convicted, he’d have spent years behind bars and been permanently inscribed as a sex offender. In what seemed a he said-she said case, his prospects were dicey. As it happened, the complainant was sitting on a cache of about 50,000 recorded messages (Allan had lost his phone with copies), which the police had examined, but not disclosed to the prosecution or the defence. Following two days of testimony, during which the phone calls were referenced, the prosecutor refused to continue until the defence had received and reviewed the messages. They were illuminating, as for example: “It wasn’t against my will or anything,” and “You know it’s always nice to be sexually assaulted without breaking the law.” Taken together, the woman revealed herself as a sex addict obsessed with “rough sex and being raped.” The case was dismissed at the request of the prosecutor, who admirably fulfilled his primary mandate — that is, to ensure a fair trial, not to convict. Why were the records withheld for so long? Clearly the police knew those records rendered the charges unsustainable. Why were they withheld for so long? There are any number of bad reasons, including laziness, incompetence and bias, but no good ones. (You can see a detailed review of this case and what it says about systemic flaws in the U.K. criminal justice system at BarristerBlogger.com.) This scenario could easily have happened here. Electronic messaging history is not automatically requested by the police when a complainant files a charge, as we saw in the Jian Ghomeshi case where, fortunately, Ghomeshi had his own archived cache. Yet, irritated by his acquittal, feminist legal minds are promoting complainant-friendly tweaks to the Criminal Code, like Bill C-51 (about which I have written before), now under Senate review, which could seriously weaken defence counsel’s hand at trial. The feminist rubric is: believe the victim; don’t look for discrediting evidence; false allegations are extremely rare. That simply isn’t true. Not today and not historically. Retired international lawyer and former U.S. prosecutor John Davis, who brings depth of experience in rape and sexual assault cases to his argumentation, reminds us, in his book, False Accusation of Rape: Lynching in the 21st Century, of the thousands of cases of white women who — knowing the dire consequences — falsely accused black men of sexually inappropriate conduct. Don’t we all wish that the story of the white woman who in 1955 falsely accused black martyr 14-year old Emmett Till of winking at her in her family’s grocery store had been subjected to rigorous scrutiny in a gender and race-blind courtroom. A companion book, How to Avoid False Accusations of Rape, is a practical guide in “risk management” for naïve young men like Liam Allan. Some of Davis’s suggestions are common sensical: “Take the time to know a woman before sharing intimacy with her,” because “hooking up” increases the odds of false accusation. And: “Don’t get involved with anyone already having sex problems” with other people. Other tips may anger feminists, but also make inherent sense: for example, Davis counsels men to avoid intimacy with women who define themselves as “rape survivors” — not because they are lying, but because normal sex may trigger bad memories, producing irrational consequences. Davis also counsels men to stay away from any woman who associates with radical feminist groups, as their members may encourage her to revisit consensual sex as rape (this does happen). Preserve all communications, Davis advises, but especially electronic ones, noting that some carriers automatically delete messaging after 60-90 days. Never post private communications on social media, which can prompt false accusations as “retaliation.” Finally, if falsely accused, “Do not under any circumstances attempt to talk with university officials, investigators, police or any other person without the assistance and advice of a competent and experienced criminal lawyer.” It is a sad commentary on our culture that such a book needed to be written, but the reality is that, apart from their immediate circles of family and friends, very few people, including law enforcement, care what happens to men falsely charged with sex crimes. Possibly Liam Allan’s close call with calamity will act as a wake-up call. We must resist any tweaks to the justice system born of sympathy to presumed rape victims that diminishes a defendant’s right to the best possible defence. As Davis notes, “False accusations of rape are not about sex … like the crime of rape itself, false accusations of rape are about power.” Powerful men have been named and shamed for their sexual transgressions. Powerful false accusers should be named and shamed as well."



    The entire commentary can be read at: 
    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/barbara-kay-a-sadly-necessary-handbook-for-men-falsely-accused-of-sexual-assault

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;



    Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Book Review Series: (Part 7): A notable book on Australia's momentous Henry Keogh case: "Unmaking a Murderer," by celebrated investigative journalist Graham Archer. (Penguin)..."Journalist Graham Archer became fascinated by the case. It wasn’t a matter of Henry Keogh’s guilt or innocence, but that a man could be sentenced to life in prison without him having received a fair trial. The story became an odyssey for Graham. Deliberately, he had no contact with Henry Keogh in the 13 years it took to have the case reviewed by the Supreme Court and have his conviction quashed. In the end dogged determination prevailed, and after 20 years behind bars Henry Keogh was released."


    Round bookshelf in public library


    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In the roughly 10 years since I began publishing The Charles Smith Blog some of the issues I have explored - as well as some of the cases I have been following - have become the subject matter of books. This prompted me recently - as I searched anxiously for ways of keeping me occupied during the languid summer hours - other than sitting on the patio, drinking a cool glass of white wine, and reading the latest Steven King - it occurred to me that a book review series based in my previous posts from the outset of the Blog would be just what the pathologist ordered. I would invite my readers to offer me their own suggestions  for inclusion by email to hlevy15@gmail.com. Have a great summer.

    Harold Levy: Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    PASSAGE  OF THE DAY: (1): (From Graham Archer's personal account of his extraordinary experience reporting the Keogh case);  "Henry Keogh’s case probably took longer than most. I had never made it a battle between innocence and guilt, but a question of a fair trial. At the heart of that were the forensics conducted by the state’s Director of Forensic Pathology, Dr Colin Manock. In 1978, after a decade in the role, the Department that employed him told the Industrial Court he was “unable to do certifying of cause of death because of his lack [of qualifications] in histopathology.” It is the essential qualification for forensic pathology. He never gained that credential but was permitted to perform almost 10,000 autopsies in this state. The work he did in the Keogh case was not just flawed – it ultimately had the effect of misleading the jury."

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    PASSAGE OF THE  DAY: (2): "In 2004, when considering the Petition, the Crown sought advice from the expert best qualified to appraise the crucial forensics in the case. Professor Barrie Vernon-Roberts AO had been the Director of the IVMS and, for many years, had overseen pathology in the state. His 16-page report was scathing of many aspects of the post mortem. His conclusions, however, were dramatic. He found the forensic evidence did not sustain a hypothesis of deliberate drowning and, finally: “My preference as an hypothesis … for Ms Cheney’s death is that she lost consciousness after having sustained an initial fall in blood pressure due to blockage to a small artery in her heart or during a faint. While falling backwards from an erect position hit her head on the bath before sliding under the water and drowning while unconscious.“ That report only became public knowledge nine years later. In August 2006, the appeal for clemency was rejected."

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    PUBLICATION: "Unmaking a murderer," by  Graham Archer, published by  Penguin. (Graham Archer is an investigative reporter and producer who has worked for the ABC, Channel 9 and is now Director, News and Public Affairs, SA for channel 7.)

    GIST: (From Penguin):  "An investigation into an intriguing murder case and an unprecedented account of how the decisions made by organs of government can be defended and mistakes covered up.  Anna-Jane Cheney worked at the epicentre of the conservative Adelaide legal community. She was vivacious, popular and talented, with an impeccable middle-class upbringing. The man she loved, Henry Vincent Keogh, was a divorced 39-year-old Irish migrant with three children. She died just six weeks before their wedding date. According to the prosecution, Keogh had planned the drowning murder of Anna-Jane 18 months in advance. He had taken out five insurance policies amounting to $1.2 million over his fiancée’s life and forged her signature on them.  Journalist Graham Archer became fascinated by the case. It wasn’t a matter of Henry Keogh’s guilt or innocence, but that a man could be sentenced to life in prison without him having received a fair trial. The story became an odyssey for Graham. Deliberately, he had no contact with Henry Keogh in the 13 years it took to have the case reviewed by the Supreme Court and have his conviction quashed. In the end dogged determination prevailed, and after 20 years behind bars Henry Keogh was released."

    Purchasing information can be read  at the link below:
     https://www.penguin.com.au/books/unmaking-a-murder-9780143784050

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Another notable book on the Henry  Keogh case is 'Losing their grip' (published in 2006) by Robert Moles, an influential source of law reform in Australia, who played a major role in the establishment of an independent criminal case review court in South Australia and  elsewhere - and and played a major role in securing the exoneration of Henry Keogh. It is published by Elvis Press. As prominent Perth QC McCusker wrote: "This book not only exposes the serious flaws in the scientific evidence which convicted one man of murder a decade ago, it also demonstrates how our justice system resists the idea that  it may have 'got it wrong.'"

    Harold Levy: Publisher The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Read Graham Archer's personal account of the Keogh case: 'How could this happen? Henry Keogh's long road to freedom,' at the link following 'GIST); 


    GIST: "In December 2014, Henry Keogh walked out of jail for the first time in 20 years. A year later, the case against him for the 1994 murder of his fiancée, Anna-Jane Cheney, was dropped. As Keogh prepares to break his silence, journalist Graham Archer reflects on how his long search for the truth became a battle with the justice system"...... "In 2003, I said to the then-Director of Public Prosecutions Paul Rofe QC: “This won’t go away.” I was talking about the wrongful conviction of Henry Keogh. I meant it; it didn’t, and it still hasn’t. I just didn’t think it would take 13 years. Unpopular causes are not the usual choice of nightly current affairs programs. However, when you believe something is wrong, popular or not, you are presented with a choice: use the power you have to do something or do nothing. I planned to be as objective as possible. Faced with the hostility that came my way I can’t say I perfected the technique, however I chose not to have any contact whatsoever with Henry Keogh. After 13 years I met and spoke with him for the first time on the evening of his release. What appeared to have been a slam-dunk for the justice system in the end has exposed just how perverted it can be. More disturbing is the tenacity to deny, defend and dig deeper into the mire when faced with its own repeated and inexcusable errors. Even now with Keogh’s conviction quashed and any charge against him abandoned, the same mindset seems to remain. There appears no inclination to learn from the past. I had an immediate sense of the opposition I’d face from the Government when I was alerted to a speech the then Attorney-General Michael Atkinson gave in Parliament on April 1, 2003, in response to a story I’d done on the case. He told Parliament that “a few people, I repeat just a few people, have questioned the competency of the prosecution and suggested important pieces of evidence were withheld from the court. This is wrong. I deny it.” It was actually right, and I knew it. A blow-by-blow account of the decade-long battle to have the flawed evidence in the case independently tested is a story for another time. However, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that almost every miscarriage of justice in this country and around the world has only come to light following sustained, and sometimes bitterly resisted, media campaigns. Henry Keogh’s case probably took longer than most. I had never made it a battle between innocence and guilt, but a question of a fair trial. At the heart of that were the forensics conducted by the state’s Director of Forensic Pathology, Dr Colin Manock. In 1978, after a decade in the role, the Department that employed him told the Industrial Court he was “unable to do certifying of cause of death because of his lack [of qualifications] in histopathology.” It is the essential qualification for forensic pathology. He never gained that credential but was permitted to perform almost 10,000 autopsies in this state. The work he did in the Keogh case was not just flawed – it ultimately had the effect of misleading the jury. Keogh’s one slender thread of hope rested in the hands of the Government. The Petition for Mercy is an antiquated hangover from the royal prerogative. For Keogh, it was not a plea to be “freed” from prison, but the presentation of fresh evidence requesting the right to have his case referred back to court. As a process, it is deeply flawed. The decision is essentially made at a political level behind closed doors. No reasons need be given and there is no right of appeal. In 2004, when considering the Petition, the Crown sought advice from the expert best qualified to appraise the crucial forensics in the case. Professor Barrie Vernon-Roberts AO had been the Director of the IVMS and, for many years, had overseen pathology in the state. His 16-page report was scathing of many aspects of the post mortem. His conclusions, however, were dramatic. He found the forensic evidence did not sustain a hypothesis of deliberate drowning and, finally: “My preference as an hypothesis … for Ms Cheney’s death is that she lost consciousness after having sustained an initial fall in blood pressure due to blockage to a small artery in her heart or during a faint. While falling backwards from an erect position hit her head on the bath before sliding under the water and drowning while unconscious.“ That report only became public knowledge nine years later. In August 2006, the appeal for clemency was rejected. In a media release, Acting Attorney-General Kevin Foley said he had further “declined to refer the petition to the Supreme Court, after considering advice received from the Solicitor General Chris Kourakis QC”. Foley emphasised that the conviction “was never dependent on the pathology evidence alone”, quoting Rofe’s own address to the jury that “if this was just pathology evidence then Keogh should be acquitted”. “Rather,” Foley continued, “it was the overwhelming strength of the whole of the circumstantial evidence against Mr Keogh that led, and still leads, to a conclusion of guilt.” I felt like a hostage in the Mike Rann “tough on crime” decade. It was a populist mantra usually the preserve of tabloid TV. The administration was hell-bent on “locking up bad guys” – addressing wrongful convictions didn’t play into that narrative.  I don’t think a decent society that prides itself on observing the rule of law can lock up a citizen for 20 years, quash the conviction, drop the charge and not ask: How could this happen? By 2012 I could see something had to change. There’s only been one murder conviction in this state overturned after the justice system had washed its hands of it. That was Edward Splatt – back in 1984. The legal architect of that was the eminent and indefatigable Marie Shaw QC. I asked for her help. Fortunately, we were on very good terms. She agreed, and brought in Sam Abbott SC and a number of dedicated pro bono lawyers – on the condition I cease my media coverage. I had to decide between the interests of a man I’d never met and my job. I chose to silence the guns. At that time, the petition process was still all there was to work with. Then, in May 2013, one of the great legacies of the Keogh campaign materialised. Thanks to Independent MP Ann Bressington, a Parliamentary Select Committee considered an amendment to allow second-chance appeals based on the emergence of “fresh and compelling evidence”.  Behind the scenes I had been lobbying the new Attorney-General John Rau. He gave me a commitment that if the Committee recommended the change he would support it. They did and, true to his word, he steered it through the Parliament. It is a national first. The bar was set high but it meant Henry Keogh – and others – now had an avenue back to court, free of political involvement. What happened in the Full Court appeal is now history. DPP Adam Kimber SC tried unsuccessfully to have the Vernon-Roberts report ruled inadmissible because its author, suffering dementia, could no longer be cross-examined. However, every pathologist called – including two by the Crown – agreed with the report’s conclusions. The forensic conclusions of Dr Manock were demolished. The conviction was unanimously quashed – but a retrial was ordered. Despite being cash-strapped and over-worked, the Office of the DPP spent almost a year pushing on with the retrial. Then, in November 2015, the DPP announced that “on May 1 an important witness became unwell [and] there was no reasonable prospect of conviction without the witness.” He didn’t name this indispensable figure, but I know it to be Dr Colin Manock. Astonishing – the circumstantial evidence, which the public had been led to believe over many years was so incriminating, didn’t rate a mention! Henry Keogh was finally free after 20 years of torment. Now it might just be me but I don’t think a decent society that prides itself on observing the rule of law can lock up a citizen for 20 years, quash the conviction, drop the charge and not ask: “How could this happen, and why did we behave so badly for so long?” So far the two men who have been granted a second appeal under the new legislation have had their convictions quashed. That’s a 100 per cent hit rate. And yet there has been silence! In the case of Keogh, I wrote to the Attorney-General – no response. I wrote to the Law Society – no response. Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Vickie Chapman has repeatedly asked the Attorney-General about the Vernon-Roberts report and why it hadn’t appeared for nine years.
    In February, John Rau surmised: “My belief is that nobody turned their mind to this particular matter at all.” On the last occasion, in March this year, he simply replied: “That question reminds me of two other questions – one I frequently hear coming from the lips of Mr Archer, I think his name is… and another was a question of almost exactly the same tone which was asked of me a little while ago.
    “I have nothing further to add.” You get the justice you settle for."
    https://indaily.com.au/opinion/2016/07/08/how-could-this-happen-henry-keoghs-long-road-to-freedom/
     
    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;
     

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    Sex crime investigations: Presumption of Innocence?: (Part 2): National Post Columnist Christie Blatchford's 'hooray' for Scotland Yard Commissioner Cressida Dick for abandoning the Met's policy of automatically believing 'victims' of sexual assault - and Blatchford's warning that Canadian sex crime prosecutions are about to take a very different direction with Bill C-51; (With reference to Ontario's troublesome Jian Ghomeshi case and its aftermath..."Despite huge pushback from defence lawyers and legal organizations, Bill C-51 is almost but not quite law — having passed in the House and on its way to second reading in the Senate. It’s this bill, colloquially known as the new Ghomeshi rules, which expands the definition of sexual activity to include communications made “for a sexual purpose or whose content is of a sexual nature.” As the Canadian Bar Association said in a letter to the justice committee which, last fall, was studying the bill, the amendments mean that “an accused with records that could impeach complainants or witnesses” can’t use those records unless they first get a judge’s OK. It was precisely this sort of communication — emails from the complainants to the accused — that was used so effectively in cross-examination by Ghomeshi’s main lawyer, Marie Henein. What these messages showed in the case of all three complainants was that despite their testimony in court that after their alleged attacks they were so traumatized and wary they never saw Ghomeshi again except in public, they had all either tried to (in one instance) and/or actually done so."



    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: As previously noted on this Blog, Cressida Dick, Scotland Yard's new Commissioner, (appointed about a year ago),  has changed her force's policy from always believing  the 'victims' from the outset because they are inherently being truthful,  to one of investigating sexual assault claims  thoroughly and impartially.  Commissioner Dick was careful to insist that officers keep an open mind, treat complainants with respect and dignity,  listen to them and  record what they say.  But she stressed that "From that moment on, we are investigators." The wisdom of Commissioner Dick's approach is confirmed by National Post columnist columnist Christie Blatchford's pereptive commentary, as follows.

    Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    COMMENTARY: "Christie Blatchford: Unlike Canada, U.K. has learned sex assault 'victims' aren't always victims," published by The National Post on April 2, 2018.

    GIST:  "In Canada, meantime, the pendulum continues to swing the other way. Despite a huge pushback in the legal community, Bill C-51 is almost but not quite law."

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: As previously noted on this Blog, Cressida Dick, Scotland Yard's new Commissioner, (appointed about a year ago),  has changed her force's policy from always believing  the 'victims' from the outset because they are inherently being truthful,  to one of investigating sexual assault claims  thoroughly and impartially.  Commissioner Dick was careful to insist that officers keep an open mind, treat complainants with respect and dignity,  listen to them and  record what they say.  But she stressed that "From that moment on, we are investigators." The reasoning behind this new policy is relevant  not just to police investigations but to investigations  launched  in  other institutions, wherever they may be, such as universities, show-biz and the business world. National Post  Columnist Christie Blatchford - a great, outspoken writer and insightful analyst of Canada's criminal justice system - points out how Canada may soon be going in a very different direction from Commissioner Dick;

    Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Worth noting is that at the time Ghomeshi was charged, the Toronto Police sex crimes unit was headed by a woman, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, who deeply believed all complainants from the get-go. As she put it at a press conference announcing that three (later discredited) women had come forward with allegations against Ghomeshi, “We believe victims when they come in, 100 per cent. We are behind them 100 per cent … We believe them right from the onset.” “We” were on the wrong track. It was, for the record, a lousy investigation, the complainants only minimally and tepidly questioned, and never challenged, of course, lest they have felt disrespected or, God forbid, disbelieved."

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    "Hooray for Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, who has formally led her force in abandoning its policy of automatically believing victims of sexual assault. As The Times of London reported Monday, since taking over the Met about a year ago, Dick has told her officers that of course they are to keep an open mind, treat complainants with respect and dignity and “we should listen to them. We should record what they say.” But, Dick said, “From that moment on, we are investigators.” What seems so elementary — that the first job of police isn’t to “support” victims or anyone else, but rather to investigate complaints — got lost in 2014, when the notional acceptance of victims as inherently “being truthful” went to a flat-out recommendation that “The presumption that a victim should always be believed should be institutionalized.” This “we believe” mindset was in part responsible for the Operation Midland scandal, which saw a number of prominent men ruined (though never criminally charged) by allegations they were involved in a VIP pedophile ring, all on the say-so of a single alleged victim known as “Nick.” That was the finding of a report into Operation Midland by retired high court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who found that the presumption of innocence was “set aside” by detectives in their eagerness, and what they felt was their duty, to believe Nick. Henriques said this protocol of automatically believing victims “perverts our system of justice, strikes at the very core of the criminal justice process, will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale,” and should be scrapped. And scrapped, thanks to Dick, it has been. Henriques went even further, and rued the use of the word “victim” in U.K. legislation and said, “since the investigative process is similarly engaged in ascertaining facts which will, if proven, establish guilt, the use of the word ‘victim’ at the commencement of an investigation is simply inaccurate and should cease.” Interestingly, there was another development Monday in U.K. justice, with the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, reported to be stepping down when her five-year contract ends next fall. The announcement of her resignation came after several recent rape trials collapsed when prosecutors apparently failed to disclose evidence — much of it text messages — to the defence, as they’re obliged to do, just as Canadian prosecutors are. The Crown Prosecution Service is now reviewing all current rape cases. In Canada, meantime, the pendulum continues to swing the other way. Despite huge pushback from defence lawyers and legal organizations, Bill C-51 is almost but not quite law — having passed in the House and on its way to second reading in the Senate. It’s this bill, colloquially known as the new Ghomeshi rules, which expands the definition of sexual activity to include communications made “for a sexual purpose or whose content is of a sexual nature.” As the Canadian Bar Association said in a letter to the justice committee which, last fall, was studying the bill, the amendments mean that “an accused with records that could impeach complainants or witnesses” can’t use those records unless they first get a judge’s OK. It was precisely this sort of communication — emails from the complainants to the accused — that was used so effectively in cross-examination by Ghomeshi’s main lawyer, Marie Henein. What these messages showed in the case of all three complainants was that despite their testimony in court that after their alleged attacks they were so traumatized and wary they never saw Ghomeshi again except in public, they had all either tried to (in one instance) and/or actually done so. In one instance, the complainant forgot to disclose to police or prosecutors that she’d had dinner, post-alleged attack, with Ghomeshi, taken him home in a cab and given him a hand job and, in the other, the complainant had actively courted him for about a year after the purported assault, once telling him she had wanted to “—- your brains out” on the very night of the alleged assault. In other words, the messages revealed that there were great gaps between what the complainants told the judge (and before him, police and prosecutors) and their private messages to Ghomeshi. As Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt wrote for Canadian Lawyer magazine last year, as C-51 was introduced, and this was about 15 months after Ghomeshi was acquitted, “People did not like that. “So now, if the defence has a record that shows the complainant is lying or misrepresenting the evidence, that record must be disclosed in advance. “A lawyer is then appointed for the complainant, who is granted standing to argue for suppression of the defence evidence. “In other words, the legislation will tip off a liar that records exist exposing their lie and then gives them a chance to come up with an explanation.” Worth noting is that at the time Ghomeshi was charged, the Toronto Police sex crimes unit was headed by a woman, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, who deeply believed all complainants from the get-go. As she put it at a press conference announcing that three (later discredited) women had come forward with allegations against Ghomeshi, “We believe victims when they come in, 100 per cent. We are behind them 100 per cent … We believe them right from the onset.” “We” were on the wrong track. It was, for the record, a lousy investigation, the complainants only minimally and tepidly questioned, and never challenged, of course, lest they have felt disrespected or, God forbid, disbelieved."

    The entire commentary can be read at:
     https://nationalpost.com/opinion/christie-blatchford-unlike-canada-u-k-has-learned-sex-assault-victims-arent-always-victims

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

    Monday, July 16, 2018

    Book review series: (Part 6): Free-lance journalist Tim Requarth perceptive, insightful review of Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington's masterpiece 'The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A true story of injustice in the American South' in 'Slate'..." The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist is a welcome wake-up call, and will likely challenge many people’s CSI-fueled perception of forensic analysts as near-infallible seers of truth." (Requarth's review demonstrates a profound understanding of the disturbing issues plaguing forensic science in America. HL)



    Round bookshelf in public library


    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In the roughly 10 years since I began publishing The Charles Smith Blog some of the issues I have explored - as well as some of the cases I have been following - have become the subject matter of books. This prompted me recently - as I searched anxiously for ways of keeping me occupied during the languid summer hours - other than sitting on the patio, drinking a cool glass of white wine, and reading the latest Steven King - it occurred to me that a book review series based in my previous posts from the outset of the Blog would be just what the pathologist ordered. I would invite my readers to offer me their own suggestions  for inclusion by email to hlevy15@gmail.com. Have a great summer.

    Harold Levy: Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
    PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Forensic crime-solving techniques such as bite-mark analysis have come under fire in recent years for not being science at all, a problem I unpacked extensively in a recent investigation into forensics for the Nation with Meehan Crist. Our work led me to Radley Balko, a libertarian-leaning opinion journalist at The Washington Post (previous stints include policy analyst at the Cato Institute, senior editor at Reason, and FoxNews.com columnist), who has been on the bad forensics beat for over a decade. Now, in a new book, he’s teamed up with Tucker Carrington, director of the Mississippi Innocence Project, to paint a horrifying portrait of the problems plaguing forensics. The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South chronicles the sagas of Brewer and Brooks to illustrate how the state of Mississippi allowed two men (Hayne and West) to amass power and prestige by peddling quackery."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BOOK REVIEW:  "Forensic Science May Be Evolving, but the System Is Broken," a review of Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington's  'The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A true story of injustice in the American South,' by Tim Requarth in Slate published on February 28, 2018.  (Tim Requarth is a freelance journalist, as well as Lecturer in Science & Writing at New York University.  His writing has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, Slate, Foreign Policy, and Scientific American. He received his PhD in neuroscience from Columbia University, and for nine years he directed NeuWrite, an international network of workshops for scientists and writers. He is a 2018 UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism Fellow.)

    GIST: "In 2008, Kennedy Brewer was ushered into the same Mississippi courthouse where, 13 years earlier, he had been sentenced to death for the brutal rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl. This time, Brewer was there to be exonerated. DNA evidence had cleared him of the crime. The original jury’s verdict had been substantially swayed by the testimony of Steven Hayne and Michael West. Hayne, a pathologist, had found wounds on the child’s arms resembling human bite marks. West, a forensic jack-of-all-trades, testified that the bite marks “were indeed and without doubt inflicted by Kennedy Brewer.” Hayne and West had also used bite marks to help convict Levon Brooks of the rape and murder of a different 3-year-old girl in the same rural Mississippi county. Brooks was also exonerated after the real perpetrator—who committed both crimes—was identified. Forensic crime-solving techniques such as bite-mark analysis have come under fire in recent years for not being science at all, a problem I unpacked extensively in a recent investigation into forensics for the Nation with Meehan Crist. Our work led me to Radley Balko, a libertarian-leaning opinion journalist at The Washington Post (previous stints include policy analyst at the Cato Institute, senior editor at Reason, and FoxNews.com columnist), who has been on the bad forensics beat for over a decade. Now, in a new book, he’s teamed up with Tucker Carrington, director of the Mississippi Innocence Project, to paint a horrifying portrait of the problems plaguing forensics. The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South chronicles the sagas of Brewer and Brooks to illustrate how the state of Mississippi allowed two men (Hayne and West) to amass power and prestige by peddling quackery. As Balko and Carrington put it:
    The primary antagonists in this story are Steven Hayne, the state’s former de facto medical examiner, and Michael West, a prolific forensic dentist. A third is the state of Mississippi itself—not its people, but its institutions. In a larger sense, blame rests on courts—both state and federal—media, and professional organizations that not only failed to prevent this catastrophe but did little to nothing even after it was clear that something was terribly wrong. What you’re about to read didn’t happen by accident.
    The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist is a densely reported book that highlights not only the cases of Brewer and Brooks but also a dizzying array of other wrongful convictions. The authors conducted more than 200 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of court documents, letters, memos, case reports, and media accounts to trace the contours of a corrupted system. Hayne, they note, performed 80 percent of Mississippi’s state-ordered autopsies, or about 1,700 annually. This stands in contrast to guidelines from the National Association of Medical Examiners, which states that performing more than 325 annually is tantamount to malpractice. Hayne’s pace was likely a problem. In one autopsy report, Hayne described removing the uterus and ovaries—from a man. But quality, perhaps, wasn’t the point. With West as a sidekick, the duo could be counted on to deliver the “evidence” prosecutors needed for convictions. Hayne would discover “bite marks” on a victim’s body, and West would be called in to match them to the suspect’s teeth. In a story full of antagonists, the authors single out West, a charlatan of the first order. West got into forensic dentistry in 1982 after attending a conference presentation about identifying bite marks using ultraviolet photography. When he returned home to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he recruited a colleague to sedate him and bite him in the thigh to test out the technique. He then enlisted assistants and local students to bite one another. From these “experiments,” West concluded he could identify marks left on skin from bites months earlier. The local paper wrote a flattering profile, calling Hattiesburg a “hotbed of scientific research.” At some point, West started a company called Dental Disaster Squad, and by 2006, he claimed to have investigated 5,800 deaths in and around Mississippi. Over the years, his “expertise” metastasized, and he proffered opinions not only on bite marks, but also on gunshot reconstruction, wound pattern analysis, fingernail scratch reconstruction, trace metal analysis, video enhancement, pour pattern analysis, tool-mark analysis, cigarette burns, arson investigations, and shaken baby syndrome. West called his ultraviolet method the “West Phenomenon” because he could see what no one else could. He matched an abrasion on a murder victim’s body to a suspect’s shoelaces. He matched a bruise on the victim’s abdomen to a specific pair of hiking boots. He declared that simply by looking at a suspect’s palm, he could tell that the individual had been holding a particular screwdriver several days earlier. West likened his virtuosic talents to those of violinist Itzhak Perlman and once described his error rate as “something less than my savior, Jesus Christ.” As Balko and Carrington write, “West is either a master bullshit artist or an autodidact for the ages.” The authors are being generous. West peddled unconscionable pseudoscience in court. Typically, a bite-mark examiner would take a plaster mold of the suspect’s teeth and then compare the mold to photographs of the victim’s skin. If the pattern sufficiently matches up, the examiner could exclude everyone in the world except the suspect. Or at least that’s how the theory goes: Bite-mark matching has never been scientifically proven. West’s practices in this already-scientifically-shaky field were even more dubious. In Brewer’s and Brooks’ cases, as in many others, West pressed a plaster mold of the suspect’s teeth directly against the victim’s skin. With this method, West could have been creating the bite mark he was then claiming to have matched. In one case, West even pressed a dental mold into the hip of a comatose woman. A forensic dentist and longtime West critic posted a video of the examination on his blog. “Tampering with the evidence on the skin is likely a crime,” the dentist later said. “But to create those marks on a woman who was comatose, and who hadn’t given consent, is also an assault.” The authors are being generous. West peddled unconscionable pseudoscience in court. The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist is a welcome wake-up call, and will likely challenge many people’s CSI-fueled perception of forensic analysts as near-infallible seers of truth. It’s also possible that by choosing Hayne and West as the antagonists—a particularly egregious pair practicing what can fairly be called junk science—readers could walk away thinking all forensic examiners are quacks and all forensic science is bunk. In reality, it’s more complicated. Fingerprint analysts aren’t astrologers, and most of them act in good faith using what they believe to be reliable expertise. In 2009, legal scholar Michael Risinger wrote, “These disciplines are probably best understood as being like folk medicine—they may be efficacious sometimes, maybe even most times, but we don’t really know for sure.” In other words, much of forensic science isn’t so much unscientific as it is prescientific. However you classify it, judges are supposed to keep unproven techniques out of court. Yet they’ve failed repeatedly. In Mississippi, judges fell hard for West’s hucksterism. Balko and Carrington interviewed Edwin Pittman, former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, who upheld West’s testimony and Brooks’ conviction. Despite hearing eight cases in which West was challenged, Pittman never questioned West’s expertise or the scientific basis of his methods. “Looking back,” Pittman said, “I can’t believe that I bought into to all of that—that I believed West’s ‘science’ was really science. I wish I had voted differently.” One justice did vote differently, and when he was up for re-election, an opposition group ran attack ads accusing the justice of supporting murderers, citing the justice’s dissent in Brooks’ case. Given the political climate, judges had a strong incentive not to question past convictions or the inappropriate practices used to secure them. According to Balko and Carrington, not a single Mississippi judge in 20 years even held a hearing to evaluate the scientific legitimacy of the “West Phenomenon.” No trial judge ever refused to let Hayne testify. The intertwined stories of Brooks, Brewer, Hayne, and West are easily whipped up into a clear and devastating narrative. But The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist really shines when it reveals exactly how the system contorts itself to protect convictions made possible by pseudoscience. “It’s often said that the wheels of justice grind slowly,” Balko and Carrington write, “That isn’t always true. When it comes to convicting people, they can move pretty swiftly. It’s when the system needs to correct an injustice—admit its mistakes—that the gears tend to sputter to a halt.” This, the authors argue, is by design. In one particularly maddening example, a defendant filed a petition in federal court for post-conviction relief after Steven Hayne had been discredited, which can be considered grounds for a new trial. According to federal law, a defendant must file within one year of the discrediting. The federal court agreed Hayne had been discredited but disagreed on the timing. It ruled against the defendant because the media had been criticizing Hayne for five years and the Innocence Project had previously filed a complaint. The imprisoned defendant “should have discovered this information,” the justices wrote. In one fell swoop, the federal court acknowledged that the medical examiner performing 80 percent of Mississippi’s autopsies for years was a fraud, yet it also affirmed that it was now too late to revisit any of those cases. Judges are supposed to keep unproven techniques out of court. Yet they’ve failed repeatedly. Balko and Carrington’s book arrives at a critical moment for forensic reform. In 2009 and 2016, major reports from the National Academy of Sciences and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) raised serious concerns that many of the “pattern-matching” disciplines—bite marks, footprints, firearms, even fingerprints—had little, if any, empirical support. But the momentum for reform is slowing now that Jeff Sessions, a former prosecutor, is at the helm of the DOJ and the country is governed by the most anti-science administration in recent memory. One of Sessions’ first moves was to let the charter expire on the National Commission on Forensic Science, an interdisciplinary oversight body created partly in response to the scathing 2009 report. Sessions instead moved oversight in-house, which is troubling because the DOJ failed to police some of its own examiners for years, even though the agency later admitted analysts gave flawed testimony in almost every case. The DOJ doesn’t have direct control over the states’ criminal justice systems, but, troublingly, many prosecutors take their cue from national leaders. Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered a taste of what in-house “reform” might look like. He announced that the DOJ would prohibit its fingerprint examiners from using the misleading and meaningless phrase “reasonable degree of scientific certainty,” or testifying to zero error rates. These restrictions are an improvement. But a closer look at the guidelines shows the changes are likely to have little practical effect. The DOJ will still allow “a statement of an examiner’s belief” that the “probability” of a mismatch “is so small that it is negligible.” The subtle distinction is likely to be lost on a jury. This kind of “reform” is dangerous: It has the veneer of progress, yet utterly fails to address the core problem. While it’s tempting to pin this on Sessions, it’s really a prosecutor problem. After PCAST released its critical 2016 report, then–Attorney General Loretta Lynch retorted, “While we appreciate their contribution to the field of scientific inquiry, the department will not be adopting the recommendations related to the admissibility of forensic science evidence.” It’s not surprising that a prosecutorial agency such as the DOJ resists meaningful forensic reforms. “Many of these forensics fields have largely avoided subjecting themselves to scientific scrutiny,” Balko and Carrington write. “It’s easy to see why. There’s no incentive for them to do so. The purpose of forensics is to solve crimes. The end game is to testify in court and persuade a judge or jury. Once the courts begin accepting analysts from a new area of forensics as experts, there’s no upside to those analysts then subjecting their methods and analysis to scientific scrutiny. They already have everything they need: the approval of the courts.” Owning up to the flaws in forensics could also call into question thousands of past convictions. Conspicuously absent in the DOJ’s new testimony reform was any mention of reviewing past cases that had used the same testimony that is now outlawed. This tension between science’s ever-evolving consensus and the law’s stubborn insistence on finality is a central theme in The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist. Hayne and West might not be representative of the broader forensic community, but the justice system that allowed them to flourish is all too familiar."

    The entire review can be read at the link below:
     https://slate.com/culture/2018/02/the-cadaver-king-and-the-country-dentist-reviewed.html

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;