Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Over the past eighteen months I have used this Blog to intensively report on developments relating to Dr. Charles Smith culminating with the recently concluded Goudge Inquiry.

I am now winding up this phase of the Blog - to be replaced eventually by periodic reporting of developments relating to Dr. Smith and related issues as they occur - with an examination of Justice Goudge's findings in the cases reviewed by the Inquiry.

I think it is important to take this closer look at the report in this Blog, because the mainstream media, which has done an admirable job in reporting the inquiry, have gone on to other stories.

Justice Goudge's findings relating to the various cases have been scattered throughout the report.

My approach is to weave together the findings relating to all of the principal actors - so we can get a fuller picture of Justice Goudge's findings as to their conduct;


An overview of Sharon's case prepared by Commission staff indicates that:

"Sharon was born in Kingston, Ontario, on December 28, 1989. She was the child of Louise Reynolds and David, Sharon died on June 12, 1997, at the age of seven and a half years.

On June 26, 1997, Ms. Reynolds was charged with second degree murder in the death of Sharon. The preliminary inquiry was conducted from April to November 1998. On November 19,1998, the Honourable Mr. Justice Megginson committed Ms. Reynolds to trial on the charge. She was remanded without bail from June 26, 1997, until April 26, 1999 when she was released with the consent of the Crown, on certain terms and conditions.

The Crown withdrew the charge against Ms. Reynolds on January 2, 201, indicating that it did not have a reasonable prospect of conviction."


Justice Goudge describes the second autopsy on Sharon's case as "another missed warning sign."

He says that the Chief Coroner's Office should have been deeply concerned by the fact that the results of the second autopsy were so different from Smith's initial opinion on cause of death and his testimony at the preliminary hearing - that this discrepancy like the changed opinions in Jenna's case, should have triggered a more formal review.

"The Chief Coroner's Office now had evidence available to it that, viewed objectively, raised concerns about Smith's work in the cases involving Amber, Nicholas, Jenna and Sharon," he adds.

"But this evidence was discounted, minimized, or missed altogether."

"Instead, Dr. Young and Dr. Cairns continued to maintain their confidence in Dr. Smith's capabilities even after his opinion unravelled, attributing Dr. Smith's errors to a "team failure..." Goudge continues.

"Once again, Dr. Cairns and Dr. Young failed to take any corrective steps regarding Dr. Smith."

"They exercised no oversight and required no accountability from Dr. Smith."

To make matters even worse, even though Dr. Young told the media he intended to order an independent review of Dr. Smith's work in Sharon's case and several other cases, Dr. Young quietly abandoned this review - later using a civil lawsuit launched by Louise Reynold's as his purported excuse.

"In Dr. Young's mind, the sole purpose of any external review was to determine whether Dr. Smith was fit to return to work for the Chief Coroner's Office," said Goudge.

"He did not consider that an examination of Dr. Smith's cases might also be in the public interest to determine what pathology lessons might be learned or whether there were possible wrongful convictions in cases involving Dr. Smith's work."

Although AIDWYC lawyer James Lockyer wrote Young in April 2001, requesting a thorough review of Smith's work, Goudge notes Young's testimony at the Inquiry that, at the time, he did not consider this request from Lockyer a request for a broad review of Dr. Smith's past cases.

"He was familiar with Mr. Lockyer, whom he described as "very persistent" and "like a dog with a bone," says Goudge.

"He thought that if Mr. Lockyer wanted to call for a broad review of Dr. Smith's cases, he would have done so publicly and in a much more forceful manner than in a letter."

"However, it is difficult to see how Mr. Lockyer's letter could have been clearer."

Harold Levy...hlevy15@gmail.com;