Sunday, January 13, 2008
A Clue As To How Dr. Charles Smith Attained His Reputation As A "Forensic Pathologist";
"YOU WEREN'T AWARE THAT HE -- HE WASN'T TRAINED AS A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST?," AN APPARENTLY INCREDULOUS (COMMISSION COUNSEL) ROTHSTEIN SHOT BACK.
"NO, HE WAS -- HE WAS PORTRAYED TO ME AS A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST, AND I INTERPRETED THAT HE WAS A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST," (DR DIRK) HUYER REPLIED.
TESTIMONY AT THE GOUDGE INQUIRY;
A previous post pointed out that when he was appointed head of the newly formed Ontario Forensic Pathology Unit in 1991 Dr. Charles Smith had no formal training as a forensic pathologist.
Yet we have also learned that Dr. Smith was looked to as a forensic pathologist by his colleagues at the Hospital For Sick Children - and presumably by the judges who invariably permitted him to give opinion testimony as an expert in the criminal courtroom.
(I have talked to several judges in recent years who frankly acknowledge that they were so drawn in by Dr. Smith's impressive demeanour, confident delivery, and impressive C.V. - loaded with references to courses, conferences, periodical articles and lectures - that they dropped their guard and didn't insist on exacting evidence that he was qualified to give the testimony.)
The clue as to how Dr. Smith's colleagues and others, such as judges, crown attorney's and police officers can be found in the evidence of Dr. Dirk Huyer to the Goudge Inquiry.
When asked by Commission Counsel Linda Rothstein "did you draw any distinction between Dr. Smith as a certified pediatric pathologist and as someone who didn't have formal training as a forensic pathologist? Was that a meaningful distinction to you?
"I don't think I was aware of that," Huyer, who testified about the great respect he had for Dr. Smith's forensic work, replied.
"You weren't aware that he -- he wasn't trained as a forensic pathologist?" an apparently incredulous Rothstein shot back?
"No, he was -- he was portrayed to me as a forensic pathologist, and I interpreted that he was a forensic pathologist," Huyer replied.
"I don't know if I ever reviewed his CV or -- or understood specifically the training that he had.
He was in the role as the pathologist dealing with cases where there was significant concern and suspicion prior to my arrival is the understanding that I -- that's what I remember, anyways..."
In an interesting exchange, Commissioner Goudge suggested to Huyer that like Smith, he also lacked formal training in forensic matters - even though, as a member of the Hospital For Sick Children Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) team, he would be involved in cases where there was suspicion.
In Commissioner Goudge's own words: "I guess you, as a member of the SCAN Team, were involved in those cases without any formal training in forensics, as well?
Huyer's reply: "Absolutely, yeah. So I don't know if I thought that through at the time. I certainly knew what I was doing, --
COMMISSIONER STEPHEN GOUDGE: Right."
In the view of this humble Blogster, it was easy for Dr. Smith to become accepted as a properly qualified forensic pathologist because he had been appointed head of a c unit which was called "The Ontario Forensic Pediatric Pathology Unit."
Whenever he testified in court, the inclusion of "Forensic" in the name of the unit, would quite reasonably suggest to the judge and anyone else involved in the criminal justice process - including jurors, prosecutors and police officers - that he was a formally trained forensic pathologist.
And Dr. Smith would be under no obligation to inform the court or any one else that he had never received specialized training in forensic pathology - which we have learned during the inquiry is a highly complex specialized field that has no room for "dabblers."
There is also the reality that forensic pathology was totally under-developed in
In short, Dr. Huyer was not the only person to assume Dr. Smith was a fully qualified forensic pathologist because he looked and played the part - many others innocently fell prey to the same mistake.
This humble Blogster is not suggesting in any way that Dr. Smith deliberately misled the public or the judicial system as to his qualifications.
He didn't have to.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
A Clue As To How Dr. Charles Smith Attained His Reputation As A "Forensic Pathologist"; by Harold Levy
Sunday, January 13, 2008