Oh Canada: Disgraced Pathologist’s Report Led to Woman Losing Son in 1996 Wrongful Conviction

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.

12 thoughts on “Oh Canada: Disgraced Pathologist’s Report Led to Woman Losing Son in 1996 Wrongful Conviction

  1. Simply stunning in the scope of injustice. Charles Smith needs to be held accountable in every sense of the word.

  2. That would have been a better newspaper article if it had reported that Dr. Smith was under criminal indictment as well as facing civil actions. I hope this bad guy doesn’t get away.

    Contrast this story with the one below for a ‘through the looking glass’ approach to medical oversight:
    (It may be apples and oranges but reading these stories 20 minutes apart gave me my first ‘WTF’ moment today.)

    “Doctor’s dietary payouts probed.
    Accused of signing allowance forms without confirming patients’ needs ”

    “TORONTO — A Toronto doctor is facing a disciplinary hearing over allegations he approved special meal allowances for people on welfare and disability programs with no proof they needed it. ”

    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2009/12/09/12090136-sun.html

  3. Is it just me, but it seems that all “crime labs” and these sorts of pathologists always have “the appearance of a conflict of interest.” On one hand, if a “lab” or “expert” is contracted by the law enforcement agency/prosecutor, then there will be pressure to come to the conclusions their client wants – generally “link this evidence to such-and-such suspect.” If they are part of the government, particularly part of a law enforcement agency, then there is the tendency to think that they are “all on the same team.” Which is to say, that it’s “us” against “them” – with “them” being criminal suspects. Either way, when we’re talking about “science” that will be over the heads of most jurors, this “appearance” seems like a serious problem.

  4. Dr Smith has admitted that he had the attitude that his job was to find evidence to aid the prosecution, not to find the truth. Not surprising, this case is only one of many which he appears to have given evidence which has resulted in bad charges, or convictions.

  5. I may have missed the side issue of this article what about the family values that people scream that society lacks. Here is a wrong that can never be repaired. How do you reunite this family? What do you say to this child? Sure the mom can be compensated what about this child? She lost him.

    Remember Rick Perry, pretty boy governor of Texas? A man died with the same crap forensics. His smirk on his face, the Govs defending his position of execution of the man still gets me boiling. What did Perry do when he was forced by the legislature create a board to deal with the execution and a controversial report was issued? He dismissed the board the day before the report was to be released so that a quorum could not be met. Ass wipe.

    Vote Kinky, at least you know what you’ll get. No worse than the rest.

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