The Art of Science in the Canadian Justice System
A Reflection of My Experiences as an Expert Witness
Part autobiography, part thought piece, part references, the book takes an insightful look at the experience and cases of renowned paediatrician and forensic expert witness Dr. Charles Ferguson. The book presents the interaction of science and law as it applies, specifically, the Canadian courts, but the justice process as a whole. Dr. Ferguson’s experience—from a scientist and medical professional’s perspective—in dealing with lawyers, judges, and the process of testifying in numerous court—offers a unique glimpse into how the two worlds of science and law don’t always mesh. In some cases the evidence is compelling and definitive. In others, far from it. Ultimately, the book presents the important role of the forensic expert and expert witness as a vital and deciding factor as the courtroom proceedings play out.
The cases presented in the book—cases Dr. Ferguson was personally involved with—are interesting, the conclusions and results arrived at by Dr. Ferguson are well thought out and backed by his scientific expertise. The results and conclusions arrived at by the courts is often expected, sometimes surprising—in specific cases even controversial. Throughout all, Dr. Ferguson casts an independent, and sometimes critical, eye on the process presenting a compelling argument and heartfelt recommendation for science, objectivity, and justice to be served based on truth—truth insofar as the "facts" of the cases presented through evidence and the testimony provided within the judicial process. A fascinating read for university students, experts and witnesses, lawyers and judges, and anyone involved in the forensic process in the trying of criminal and civil cases.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: The Divide between Science and Law
Chapter Three: The Gatekeeper Function
Chapter Four: The Trial
Chapter Five: Earlier Opportunities
Chapter Six: Concluding Thoughts
Dr. Charles Ferguson (1932 – 2014) passed away in August of 2014 at the age of 82. Born in Cape Breton and educated in Montreal, Dr. Ferguson was a Winnipeg pediatrician who founded Manitoba's Child Protection Centre, served as its longtime Director, and became one of Canada's leading child abuse experts. Ferguson worked full time at the Child Protection Centre until he was about 80. His expertise as a child-abuse investigator placed him in great demand as an expert witness in court cases across Canada. In a 15-year period, Ferguson testified in 50 child-abuse cases across the country and was working on a book with University of Manitoba law Prof. David Milward about his experiences as an expert witness at the time of his death. Ferguson also worked with aboriginal communities. He supported the devolution that gave aboriginal people control over Child and Family Services. As a pediatrician at Health Sciences Centre, he worked to improve communication with remote, northern families of hospitalized children, including arranging for interpreters.
Dr. David Milward is a Professor of Law at the University of Manitoba and is a member of the Beardy's & Okemasis Nation in Saskatchewan. He holds Bachelors of Arts in History from the University of Calgary, a Bachelors and Masters in Law from the University of Albert, and a Doctorate in Philosophy in Law from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Milward has worked as a research consultant for Calgary Legal Guidance, a legal clinic that provides legal services for indigent people in Calgary. His areas of specialization are criminal law and Aboriginal law, with a particular focus on Aboriginal justice issues. Prof. Milward has several publications in international refereed journals that cover a range of human rights topics, including: due process rights in the criminal justice system, victim rights and safety during the criminal process, the rights of Aboriginal Peoples under Canadian law, and civil disobedience. His work has been included in the databases and collections of a number of prestigious institutions, including the Correctional Service of Canada, the J.V. Library of the Australian Institute of Criminology, and the Library of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.