Sunday, November 9, 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;


Since the Goudge Inquiry did not publish an overview of Paolo's case, here is a Blog I published on Thursday, November 8, 2007, under the heading, "Trotta: Supreme Court Discredits Smith: A Defining Moment";

"The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized the havoc caused by Dr. Charles Smith on Canada's criminal justice system," the post began.

"(The Globe and Mail got it right in an editorial following release of the results of the Chief Coroner's review when it described Dr. Smith as an "earthquake" that struck our justice system over and over again), it continued.

"This was the first time that the Supreme Court has delivered a judgment on a case in which Dr. Smith was the issue.

"Essentially the fresh evidence - mainly the expert opinions of Dr. Michael Pollanen and Dr. Simon Avis - discredits the evidence given at trial by Dr. Charles Smith, an expert called by the Crown," Justice Morris Fish wrote for the unanimous court. "And the evidence of a second Crown witness at trial, Dr. David Chan, has been rendered unreliable as a result..."

(The Supreme Court of Canada's description of the once-renowned Crown expert's evidence as "discredited" is akin to a General's epaulettes being pulled off in disgrace by the Commander-in-chief);

"We think it neither safe nor sound to conclude that the verdicts on any charges would necessarily have been the same but for Dr. Smith's successfully impugned evidence."

(Justice Fish explains that the Court cannot provide any more details than necessary about the fresh evidence because it directed a new trial on all counts);

The Trotta decision falls closely on the heels of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision acquitting William Mullins-Johnson in the first-degree murder of his 4-year-old niece Valin - which we now know to be an alleged crime that never occurred. (See earlier posting: Mullins-Johnson acquittal: Notable quotes);

So now both the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal have closely examined Dr. Smith's work in two cases where he was the central crown witness and found that the Emperor was wearing no clothes.

The toll in the just these two cases:

Mullins-Johnson served more than twelve years of his first-degree sentence before being released from custody pending his application for a ministerial review;

Marco Trotta had served nine years of a life sentence with no chance of parole for fifteen years as his son's killer.

Anisa Trotta had completed serving her five year term for negligent homicide and failure to provide the necessaries of life;

And that's just the cost in terms of years.

All because of the once celebrated Dr. Charles Randal Smith.

Globe and Mail reporter Kirk Makin got it right yesterday in a report published on the Globe's Web-site shortly after the judgment was released:

"Thursday's ruling was a major victory for lawyers James Lockyer and Michael Lomer," wrote Makin.

"They had tried to persuade the court that, by misidentifying or fabricating injuries – and then overstating his evidence at the Trotta trial – Dr. Smith had poisoned the entire proceeding."

"The Supreme Court of Canada has now encapsulated what has become more and more clear in recent years - that Dr. Smith's mistakes have discredited him," Mr. Lomer said in an interview (with Makin).

For Dr. Smith, the light at the end of the tunnel is the train."


Justice Goudge concludes that Deputy Chief Coroner, Dr. Jim Cairns, defended Dr. Smith's work in Paolo's case by providing an expert pathology opinion (which he did not have the expertise to provide) - in the same manner as Chief Coroner, Dr. James Young, had written a supportive letter (drafted by Smith's lawyers) to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which was investigating Smith at the time;

"This time it was in relation to Dr. Smith's pathology opinion in Paolo's case," said Gouge.

"In so doing, Dr. Cairns exceeded his expertise, the effect was to shield Dr. Smith's opinion from further scrutiny."

Justice Goudge also concludes that Dr. Cairns made "three incorrect misrepresentations to Crown Law Officer Lucy Ceccheto about the nature of the 2001 review of Dr. Smith's work and Dr. Smith's status regarding coroner's cases, as follows:

0: that Dr Smith's work in approximately 20 cases had been reviewed, in 18 of those there was no difference of opinion with Dr. Smith, in the other two the difference of opinion was limited to where experts might reasonably agree;

0: that there was no suggestion from these reviews that Dr. Smith was incompetent or negligent in these cases;

0: that following the review, Dr. Smith was returned to the autopsy roster in June, 2001 and that, as far as the Chief Coroner's Office was concerned, Dr. Smith was competent to conduct any autopsy;

"None of Dr. Cairns three statements was correct," write Goudge, adding that Cairns did not take any steps to correct the misunderstandings.

"This failure to act had the effect of misleading Crown and defence counsel about the rigour of the Chief Coroner's Office process and the scope of Dr. Smith's practice after June 2001."

Justice Goudge also faults Cairns for confirming in a letter to Ms. Cecchetto in a letter that he had conducted a, "thorough review" of Dr. Smith's work in Paolo's case, including the autopsy report, photographs, and expert testimony at the trial - and he confirmed that, "he had no concerns regarding the opinion given by Dr. Smith and (saw) no reason what so ever for the Chief Coroner's Office or the Crown to hire another expert."

Once again, in the words of Justice Goudge: "Dr. Cairns was wrong."

"Other experts reviewed the case.

Dr. Smith's opinion was sufficiently discredited by other pathology experts that the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial for Paolo's parents.

As with his affidavit in Nicholas' case, Dr. Smith did not have the expertise to provide this opinion.

A proper review required expertise in forensic pathology.

Moreover, at the time Dr. Cairns provided the unqualified opinion,he was fully apprised of the serious concerns about Dr. Smith's competence, integrity and judgment arising from cases such as Jenna's.

This incident provides yet another example of the importance about experts undertaking and respecting the limits of their expertise.

As he candidly acknowledged at the Inquiry, Dr. Cairns had absolutely no business offering this opinion."

In this Blogster's humble opinion, this incident provides yet another example of the axiom (Levy's law) that without basic honesty and a commitment to communicating the truth to other actors in the criminal justice system on the part of those who run our Coroner's system, you can make all the systemic changes in the world and nothing will ever change.