Sunday, May 8, 2011


"Brant was asked after he was exonerated what he thinks should happen to Smith, since the former doctor’s only punishment has been the loss of his medical licence.

“I think he should go to jail,” Brant told the Sun’s Michele Mandel. “Have him put away and see what he did to everybody else who was innocent.”

This raises a good question.

Why hasn’t Smith been charged with any criminal offence for his years of tainted testimony?"


REMINDER: EXECUTION BY FIRE Friday, May 13, 10PM (9PM Manitoba/Sask.)

(In 1991 three little girls died in a fire that gutted their home in a small Texas town. Sympathy turned to rage when their father was charged with murder by arson. After a thirteen-year battle to prove his innocence and despite new evidence casting doubt over the conviction, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by lethal injection in 2004. Since Willingham’s death, leading fire scientists have challenged the underpinnings of the case, concluding it was an accidental fire. Today, Willingham’s family is still battling to clear his name and for the first time Texas may be forced to admit to executing an innocent man. Another documentary by renowned Canadian journalist Julian Sher. “What can be more crushing than the nightmare of losing your child,” asks Sher. “And then the nightmare gets unimaginably worse when the police accuse you of the murder and you know you’re innocent? These were compelling human dramas and trials that grabbed the headlines. We tried to look at the toll these cases took not only on the accused but also on their families—their loved ones, the other children. It’s also about how communities turn against the guilty suspect in our midst – how we are all guilty of jumping to conclusions.”)


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Sun editorial published earlier today bluntly asks, "Why hasn’t Smith been charged with any criminal offence for his years of tainted testimony?". This question has come up repeatedly on this Blog. Indeed, each time the Ontario Court of Appeal quashes another conviction based on a former Dr. Charles Smith opinion (as happened most recently in the case of Richard Brant, I get a strong impression that more and more people are wondering why Smith has not been held accountable in the criminal courts. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is the Premier who launched the independent public Inquiry into many of Smith's cases in order to restore confidence in Ontario's criminal justice system. My message to the Premier is that public confidence will only be re-established when Smith is himself brought to account, just as his many victims were brought to account. Because the Ontario government has such a palpable conflict of interest when it comes to Charles Smith - its prosecutors relied on him to help the Crown walk away with conviction after conviction in the criminal courts over many years - I have a solution to offer him. Premier McGuinty should encourage Attorney General Chris Bentley to invite a seasoned lawyer from another jurisdiction to come to Ontario and independently examine the relevant Smith cases to determine whether criminal prosecutions are warranted - and whether there is a reasonable probability that he can be convicted. It was Premier McGuinty's government which took this approach recently after former Attorney General Michael Bryant became involved in an unfortunate altercation which resulted in a bicycle courrier's tragic death. Ontario overcame this conflict of interest by retaining Richard Peck - a highly respected lawyer in British Columbia - to come to Ontario, check out the evidence and make a recommendation. Although Peck ultimately recommended that Bryant should not charged the Government's decision not to prosecute was by and large accepted by the public at large, because of the independent perspective which had been brought to the case. My message to Premier McGuinty, is that if indeed the government wishes to prove that it does have a political will to pursue Smith, it should retain Peck or someone like him from outside of the jurisdiction to do the job as quickly as possible. Public confidence in Ontario's criminal justice system is still very much at stake.


BACKGROUND: The Goudge inquiry focused largely on the flawed work of Charles Smith — formerly the province's chief pediatric pathologist and a self-styled member of the prosecution team — whose "errors" led to innocent people being branded as child murderers. (He has since been thrown out of the medical profession in Ontario);

The 1,000-page report by Justice Stephen Goudge slammed Smith, along with Ontario's former chief coroner and his deputy, for their roles in wrongful prosecutions and asked the province to consider compensation.

The provincial coroner's office found evidence of errors in 20 of 45 autopsies Smith did over a 10-year period starting in the early 1990s. Thirteen resulted in criminal charges.

William Mullins-Johnson, who was among those cases, spent 12 years in prison for the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece, whose death was later attributed to natural causes.

In another case, Smith concluded a mother had stabbed her seven-year-old girl to death when it turned out to have been a dog mauling.

The inquiry heard that Smith's failings included hanging on to crucial evidence, "losing" evidence which showed his opinion was wrong and may have assisted the accused person, mistating evidence, chronic tardiness, and the catastrophic misinterpretation of findings.

The cases, along with other heart-rending stories of wrongful prosecutions based in part on Smith's testimony, also raised a host of issues about the pathology system and the reliance of the courts on expert evidence."


"Why hasn’t ex-doctor Charles Smith been criminally charged for the appalling injustices his tainted testimony in suspected child abuse cases caused to so many innocent parents and caregivers over so many years?,"
the Toronto Sun editorial published earlier today under the heading, "Jailing innocent parents is a crime," begins.

"Last Wednesday, the latest of Smith’s victims, wrongly convicted in the death of his infant son, Dustin, in 1993, finally had his name cleared when the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down his conviction for aggravated assault,'
the editorial continues.

"Richard Brant, 38, joins a growing list of people falsely accused, wrongly convicted and unjustly imprisoned on the basis of testimony we now know — from a judicial inquiry — was often false, misleading, incompetent and overzealous.

Smith left a trail of ruined lives, broken families and shattered careers and reputations that continues to this day.

Court cases to overturn unjust convictions where Smith’s testimony was key are still working their way through the system.

In Brant’s case, as in others, his own lawyer convinced him to plead a manslaughter charge down to aggravated assault, because, Brant was advised, he had no chance to win against Smith’s testimony.

This despite the fact concerns about Smith’s lack of competence in a field he claimed to be an expert in were raised in court as early as 1991 — by a judge!

And yet, shockingly, Smith was allowed to continue testifying as an expert witness for another decade.

Eventually, a coroner’s review raised red flags about Smith’s testimony in numerous criminal cases involving the deaths of children.

A public inquiry headed by Justice Stephen Goudge reported in October, 2008 that Smith routinely gave “false and misleading” testimony and had no expertise in forensic pathology.

Brant was asked after he was exonerated what he thinks should happen to Smith, since the former doctor’s only punishment has been the loss of his medical licence.

“I think he should go to jail,” Brant told the Sun’s Michele Mandel. “Have him put away and see what he did to everybody else who was innocent.”

This raises a good question.

Why hasn’t Smith been charged with any criminal offence for his years of tainted testimony?

Alan Shanoff, Sun Media’s legal affairs analyst, has written a charge of causing bodily harm by criminal negligence would be an appropriate one for Smith.

This offence involves “conduct which reveals a marked and significant departure from the standard which could be expected of a reasonably prudent person in the circumstances.”

“Bodily harm” means “any hurt or injury … that interferes with … health or comfort … that is more than merely transient or trifling.”

The fact Smith’s tainted testimony resulted in innocent people spending years behind bars should qualify as “bodily harm,” argues Shanoff.

Of course, it would be up to the court to determine Smith’s guilt or innocence, but that’s the point.

It’s time for that question to be put to a court.

Actually, it’s long past time.


The editorial can be found at:


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 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 accessed at:

For a breakdown of some of the cases, issues and controversies this Blog is currently following, please turn to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog; hlevy15@gmail.coM.