Dr. Charles Smith performed autopsies at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, ON. The cops kept turning to him with new corpses, and he kept claiming that these deaths were the result of foul play. He was thought of as a God in his field–few people were willing to question his work. That is until a 2008 inquiry, which found evidence of errors in 20 of the 45 autopsies they reviewed. Dr. Smith’s judgements played a role in 13 wrongful convictions. On this episode, we tell one of those stories.
- First, Tammy Wynne was wrongfully convinced of the murder of her son, Kenneth. She spent over 13 years in prison.
- Next, Wynne’s lawyer James Lockyer tells us the story of her exoneration and what came of Dr. Smith.
- Finally, cognitive neuroscientist Itiel Dror helps us understand what’s wrong with expert decision-making.
——————-FURTHER READING & LISTENING——————-
- If you haven’t already, check out part one of our series on forensic expertise. That’s episode EP16, Derailed: The Crisis of Forensic Expertise.
- For more on the story of Tammy Wynne, read coverage from the Toronto Star, and a detailed rundown on the Charles Smith Blog by journalist and lawyer Harold Levy.
- For more on Dr. Charles Smith, read the full report from the Inquiry Into Paediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario, i.e. the Goudge Inquiry.
- Finally, three papers from Dr. Itiel Dror helped us understand why this kind of thing might happen, including: his editorial in Science about bias in forensic experts; his detailed discussion of the bias blind spot and other problems in expert decision-making; and his ground-breaking research on forensic pathologists.
——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-
We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers — such as Janice, Hart, and Sean — usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.
Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.
Darts and Letters’ is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn, our assistant producer is Polly Leger, and our chase producer is Marc Apollonio. Our lead research assistant was Roland Nadler and we had academic advising from Professor Emma Cunliffe, each from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. We had further research support from David Moscrop. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.
This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which is funding our mini-series on the state of forensic science. The scholarly lead on that project is Professor Emma Cunliffe.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.