Tuesday, September 23, 2008


As high noon (October 1, 2008) approaches I am focusing on some of the more startling revelations that rocked the Goudge Inquiry;

In recent weeks I have touched several startling revelations, including:

0: The introduction of an affidavit from Provincial Court Judge Patrick Dunn which contradicts evidence given by Dr. Smith to the Commission; The intervention of a judge into a public inquiry is an extremely rare event;

0: Introduction from a letter from the Ontario Provincial Police to the Chief Coroner Dr. James Young alleging that Dr. Smith had attempted to intimidate an officer into not giving him a speeding ticket.

0: Dr. Smith's admission of bias; I always viewed Dr. Smith as a cheerleader for the prosecution - but I never dreamed that he would actually admit that he believed his job was to help the prosecution win the case. My only question was how far he would go to make this happen.

0: Maxine Johnson's potentially devastating testimony that she discovered the missing Mullins-Johnson's slides on a shelf in a location in Dr. Smith's office at the Hospital for Sick Children that had been searched months earlier;

0: Unexpected introduction by a letter from the Barrie, Ontario Police Service, which indicated that Smith, with the support of the Chief Coroner's Office, had agreed to participate in an electronic surveillance operation involving the mother of a deceased child.

0: Evidence of a damage control meeting conducted by the Hospital for Sick Children SCAN team following the rejection of its evidence - together with the evidence given by Dr. Charles Smith - by Judge Patrick Dunn in the Amber case.

0: Evidence that prosecutor did not inform Dinesh Kumar's lawyer about Judge Patrick Dunn's searing critique of the evidence given by Dr. Smith and the Hospital for Sick Children SCAN-Team before insisting on a guilty plea to criminal negligence causing his son's death.

0: Evidence that the prosecutors insisted on this plea - as an alternative to the Crown proceeding on the second-degree murder charge - even though Dr. Smith had informed the police that he and Dr. Dirk Huyer of the SCAN-Team were not sure that there was any criminality in the case;

Today's startling revelation relates to Dr James Young's testimony that he sent a letter drafted by Dr. Smith's lawyers to an investigator for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario who was probing three complaints against Smith.

The letter - which expressed Dr. Young's unequivocal support for Dr. Smith - ran word for word as drafted by McCarthy Tetrault.

However, we know from evidence called at the Goudge Inquiry that at the time he sent the letter to the College investigator for Smith's lawyers, Dr. Young was aware that a huge question mark hung over Dr. Smith's professional behaviour in the Waudby case.

The question mark:

Smith had testified for the prosecution at Brenda Waudby's preliminary hearing that he was unaware of a small, dark, curly male pubic-type hair found in the area of Baby Jenna's vulva at the time of the autopsy.

But Young, was aware when he sent the letter drafted by McCarthy's that Smith had acknowledged that he had the exhibit with him in the courtroom when he testified - and that he had retained the exhibit for years in his home. (It was later retrieved by the police from Dr. Smith's office);

In short, Dr. Young was aware that Smith had committed a very serious impropriety in the Waudby case - possibly a serious criminal offence involving the administration of justice - when he sent Smith's lawyers letter under his own name to the the regulating body of the medical profession in Ontario.

I wrote about this development on November 30, 2007, in a post which ran under the heading, "Goudge Inquiry: Another Shocking Revelation: Former Chief Coroner Sent Letter Drafted By Smith's Lawyers To College;"

"On Friday, the Goudge Inquiry was rocked by another stunning disclosure," the post, which I will reproduce in part, began.

"Dr. James Young, the former Chief Coroner, acknowledged that he had sent a letter drafted by Dr. Charles Smith's lawyers (McCarthy Tetrault) in support of Dr. Smith to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario," it continued.

The College was investigating three complaints against Dr. Smith at the time - connection with the Jenna, Nicholas and Amber cases.

Dr. Young sent the letter drafted by Smith's lawyers to the College's chief investigator on April 10, 2002 - without changing a single word.

The letter contained a line which read, "To the best of my knowledge, at no time time did Dr. Smith act in bad faith or with the intent to obstruct or hinder these coroner's investigations."

However, Dr. Young had previously testified that he had been informed by Deputy Chief Coroner, Dr. James Cairns, that Smith had retained in his possession a hair found in the area of Baby Jenna's vulva - and that he had the hair, which pointed to the fact that Jenna may have been sexually assaulted, with him when testifying at Jenna's mother's preliminary hearing;

Dr. Young had told the Inquiry: "Well, he (Dr. Cairns) told me about the existence of the hair that -- that Dr. Smith had told him that the hair had been taken; that the hair had been offered to a police officer, and that the police officer had refused to take it as an exhibit; that he had held onto the hair; that at one (1) point he had even gone to court with it in his pocket, and no one had asked him anything about it. He'd taken it home, and for some reason he was choosing to disclose the existence of the hair at this point in time."

Pressed by Commission lawyer Mark Sandler as to whether Young considered that it was "appropriate" for him to state that to the best of his knowledge Dr. Smith had not at any time acted in bad faith or with intent to hinder or obstruct, Doctor Young responded that he had not sufficiently "parsed" the draft letter.

The following examination ensued:

COMMISSION COUNSEL MARK SANDLER: Did you feel it appropriate to adopt the letter that had been provided to you in this form without having parsed so very carefully what it was that -- that was being said, especially when you knew that the College
would be placing reliance upon this?

DR. JAMES YOUNG: I -- I read the letter, it didn't -- nothing struck me as being beyond -- what I should say, I -- in retrospect I completely agree with
you. That statement is -- should have caught my attention, didn't catch my attention. The fact I signed it, I -- I read it, I -- what I read I -- I accepted and
I -- I sent it. I...

Dr. Young also explained that he didn't have enough time to parse every word pf the letter drafted by McCarthy's because," I -- you know, a letter like this I look at, I consider it, I think about it, but I -- I don't have the -- the leisure to -- to parse every word or to think through to that depth."

"I -- I looked at it, it was asking me to do something that seemed reasonable at the time, and I did it. And I -- I missed that one reference, but I -- I -- you know, if I thought there was a problem, I wouldn't have signed it," he said.

Young also agreed with Sandler that the law firm had made it clear that he was free to make any changes in the letter, to edit it, and to state his opinions as he believed them to be.

Asked point blank by Sandler whether, from his perspective as Chief Coroner, he had any concerns "about simply adopting the letter that had been provided by McCarthy's and submitting it to the College of Physicians and Surgeons?", Young had this to say:

"No, I don't think it -- the letter, when I read it, covered the issues. It -- I
had no particular problem with the letter. I -- you know, I didn't take the time to -- to rewrite it. You know -- you know, if you sent me a letter and asked me to do something and the letter was satisfactory, I'd probably even sign off on one of your letters." ...

To my mind, Dr. Young's sending of a misleading letter drafted by Dr. Smith's lawyers raised huge, disturbing questions about the independence and integrity of the Chief Coroner's office - and whether there was a willful intent to mislead the College in its investigation.

I also wondered whether there was a duty on Dr. Young to pass on the disturbing information he had received about Dr. Smith's conduct in the Waudby case to the College.

These questions - and many more - will certainly be in my mind when I read Justice Goudge's report on October 1.

Harold Levy...hlevy15@gmail.com;