The Goudge Commission into the activities of renegade Ontario pathologist Dr. Charles Smith published its much anticipated report today.
In late April 2007, the chief coroner of Ontario published a report that concluded Smith, a former leading Ontario child pathologist, had botched at least 20 autopsies involving the deaths of children.
That announcement cast doubt on 13 criminal convictions based on Smith’s testimony. Courts have since then reviewed a number of those wrongful convictions.
In the report, Mr. Justice Stephen Goudge:
- found that Dr. Smith “actively misled” his superiors, “lacked basic knowledge about forensic pathology” and “made false and misleading statements” in court
- heavily criticized top officials in the Ontario coroner’s office who misled authorities and the public
- recommended compensating those who have been wrongful charged or convicted because of pathology errors
- recommended that only specially trained forensic pathologists be allowed to perform autopsies in cases of suspicious deaths
- called for substantially increasing investments in the recruitment and training of forensic pathologists
- suggested providing legal aid to defendants where the Crown relies on trial testimony from pathologists
- and called for the review of some 142 cases of infant deaths originally thought to be from shaken-baby syndrome, including subsequent criminal convictions, in light of new medical research
See the Toronto Star‘s article Goudge calls for compensation for more background.