Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Back in action: Catch-up (6): Tamara Broomfield; Law Times says "given the stakes, the province should undertake a review of the approach used by Motherisk and the court cases involving the program and, if necessary, consider the systemic issues raised by the findings."

STORY: "More doubts about evidence, experts," published by the Law Times on November 10, 2014.

GIST: "The latest concern centres on hair-strand analysis performed by the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children. It follows an Oct. 21 Court of Appeal ruling that admitted fresh evidence and quashed the conviction of Tamara Broomfield on two cocaine-related charges. The victim was her two-year-old son, whom an expert from the Motherisk program concluded must have ingested substantial amounts of cocaine over a 14-month period. The trial judge found Broomfield had given him cocaine during that period, including on July 31, 2005, when he collapsed with seizure-like symptoms. In her appeal, Broomfield sought to admit fresh evidence challenging the expert’s findings based on hair analysis that revealed high concentrations of cocaine. After noting there was no evidence presented at trial to challenge the method used by the Crown’s expert, the appeal court quashed the conviction on the two counts. “The trial judge made her decision unaware of the genuine controversy among the experts about the use of the testing methods relied upon by the Crown expert at trial to found a conclusion of chronic cocaine ingestion, thus, its administration by Ms. Broomfield,” the appeal court found. The appeal court’s findings suggest potential problems when it comes to the reliability of some of the evidence used in and the treatment of expert testimony in these types of cases......... Given the stakes, the province should undertake a review of the approach used by Motherisk and the court cases involving the program and, if necessary, consider the systemic issues raised by the findings."

The entire editorial can be found at:

See also Toronto Star story: "Sick Kids says it will not review Motherisk hair analysis: "In an email on Monday, Sick Kids spokeswoman Gwen Burrows said that because cases of digestion of cocaine in children are “extremely rare,” the hospital “has not initiated an extensive review of all hair-testing cases.” Burrows said the technique Motherisk used to analyze the hair of Broomfield’s toddler following a 2005 cocaine overdose, “has produced no false-positive results.” However, that contradicts a 2014 report filed during the appeal process by Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton, whose opinion prompted the court to toss Broomfield’s cocainerelated convictions. Chatterton observed that Motherisk’s cocaine test results from June to August 2010 include “four separate examples of false positive results” using the technique that he criticized in the Broomfield case. During this time period, Motherisk also had “two separate examples of false positive results” for the presence of benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine, he said."


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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:

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