Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Doctor Charles Smith

Canadian Press :  Feb. 01, 2011
A disgraced pathologist whose misguided court testimony sent innocent people to jail has pleaded “no contest” to disgraceful conduct.
Dr. Charles Smith admitted through his lawyer to unprofessional and incompetent acts at a disciplinary hearing Tuesday. He did not attend the hearing.
Dr. Smith's expert evidence on more than a dozen baby and child deaths saw several people prosecuted or jailed. A public inquiry three years ago savaged his methods.
He has not practised medicine since August 2008, when his registration expired.
Carolyn Silver, speaking for the college, said Dr. Smith failed in “multiple cases” to gather “relevant information.”
“Dr. Smith expressed opinions ... that were either contrary to, or not supported by, the evidence,” Ms. Silver told the hearing Tuesday, reading from an agreed statement of facts.
“These failures compromised the administration of justice.”
Dr. Smith blamed others for his mistakes, exaggerated his experience and offered opinions outside his expertise, the hearing was told. Those opinions were “overly dogmatic” as well as “speculative,” Ms. Silver said. His evidence was “misleading” and he “acted as an advocate” rather than offering unbiased opinions.
“Dr. Smith will be pleading no contest,” said his lawyer, Jane Langford.
“The statement (of facts) will be filed on consent.”
The panel accepted the facts and made a finding of professional misconduct and incompetence.
For more than a decade, Dr. Smith enjoyed a stellar reputation as the country's leading pathologist when it came to infant deaths. Several complaints about his work had little effect.
Still, his professional career began unravelling about eight years ago. In 2005, Ontario's chief coroner ordered a review of 44 autopsies Dr. Smith had conducted. Thirteen had resulted in criminal charges and convictions.
The review uncovered serious problems in half of those cases.
Dr. Smith voluntarily agreed to restrictions on his medical licence pending the outcome of the public inquiry led by Justice Stephen Goudge, who issued a damning 1,000-page report in October 2008.
During his testimony before the inquiry, Dr. Smith said his errors were not intentional.
He also apologized to William Mullins-Johnson, who spent 12 years in jail for the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece before being exonerated.
The Ontario government later paid Mullins-Johnson $4.25 million in compensation for his horrific ordeal.
“I'm still humiliated by the fact that I will never see justice done,” Mullins-Johnson wrote in his victim impact statement, which Ms. Silver read during the hearing Tuesday.
“He was allowed to continue his reign of terror even after complaints were registered.”
In all, Ontario's top court has set aside five convictions based, in part, on Smith's testimony and another half-dozen appeals are pending.

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