The costs of prosecutorial abuse or invalid convictions are rarely explored in depth by the media (here). Canada has one case that everyone should read. As with some recent scandals involving incompetent forensic prosecution experts in the United States, Canada is dealing with the legacy of disgraced forensic pathologist Charles Smith, who sent people to jail with flawed science and false conclusions. However, few are so unsettling as what happened to Sherry Sherret-Robinson, 34.
Faced with Smith’s evidence, Sherret-Robinson’s lawyer struck a deal with the Crown in which she would plead not guilty to the lesser charge of infanticide but agreed to present no evidence in her defense. She was given one year in jail and ultimately forced to give up her other boy for adoption.
Sherret-Robinson’s baby boy died in a tragically familiar accident. She left him in a crib with heavy blankets and he smothered to death in 1996. Prosecutors decided to charge her and called on Smith to prove the case. He testified that the boy showed a fracture on his skull and was intentionally smothered. A later panel found the case was a classic example of Smith’s shoddy work. There was no fracture on Joshua’s skull — there was none — and the hemorrhaging on the neck noted by Smith was from his own actions in the autopsy.
Ontario’s highest court ruled that she had been wrongly convicted. It is a bit late. She was forced to agree to give up her other son, who has been raised by a different family. Rather than traumatize him further, she has only a small request that someone tell her son the truth and that she never wanted to give him up for adoption.
Justice Marc Rosenberg concluded that “[t]he appellant’s conviction was wrong and she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice” and “profoundly regrettable.”
Here is Sherry’s blog site.
For the full story, click here.