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Experts Want Protection
March 25, 2010 permalink
In the past Ontarians have suffered greatly in the courts at the hand of so-called experts. Many victims of pathologist Dr Charles Smith spent time in jail on his false testimony that they killed their own children, including at least two who spent more than a decade behind bars. A reasonable guess is that dozens of children were separated from their parents by just this one expert. And Dr Smith was not alone. Every Ontario bailiwick has its own stable of experts, some conscientious, but some in the rogue categories of hired gun, incompetent or outright fake. Recently psychologist Dr Gregory Carter has been exposed as a fraud.
Common sense would suggest that more controls are required to rein in abuse at the hands of these experts. Instead, the professional groups representing the experts are lobbying for laws to give them more protection from complaints by aggrieved parents.
Enclosed is an article from the National Post representing the view of professionals seeking protection from clients, and two replies.
Put limits on custody complaints, group urges
Canadian law must be changed to make it far more difficult for disgruntled parents to file disciplinary charges against psychologists, psychiatrists and other health professionals who do assessments in child-custody cases, says a group of leading lawyers and therapists.
The complaints submitted to professional bodies by the losing side in custody battles are turning experts off the important work, the group says in a discussion paper. The result is a "major social and legal problem," it says.
The group urges changing the rules so disciplinary bodies can only consider complaints from such parents if they have been first approved by the judge in the case or by the other, winning parent, or have been screened to weed out frivolous grievances.
"The family law justice system is seriously undermined every time a vexatious complaint is made by a parent to the college," said the paper signed by 11 psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers and social workers. "It feels like a professional sucker punch and has no correlation to the skill, experience and savvy of the assessor."
Earlier this year, the Ontario Medical Association's board directed its staff to work with other professionals to push for changes to protect members against such complaints.
A parents-rights organization, however, says people embroiled in emotional disputes often feel the assessor is biased against one side, and need some recourse to question their professionalism.
Kris Titus of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council said she has heard from parents about psychologists or others who will spend a whole day with one parent in their home, and an hour in a "sterile" office environment with the other.
Or, in some cases, parents suspect the assessor appointed by the court is a "hired gun," inclined to reach a predetermined conclusion.
"When you're dealing with children, where every decision made is essentially going to affect someone's entire future, there has to be strict regulation of assessors," Ms. Titus said. "There are some assessors we have heard multiple complaints about."
The experts are appointed jointly in custody cases to interview, observe and sometime conduct psychological testing on family members to help determine who is best able to care for the children of divorces. The work can take months and cost the parties up to $75,000.
The lobby group is not looking to gain "immunity" for assessors from disciplinary charges, only to curb the high number of spurious complaints, said Nick Bala, a Queen's University law professor.
The report suggests three options, based partly on legislation in a handful of U.S. states.
- Require that a judge approve any disciplinary complaint, ensuring that it is more than merely an attack on the assessor's conclusions.
- Require that the complaint be approved by both parents, again making it less likely the grievance will be just another appeal by the losing party.
- Set up a vetting process within regulatory bodies that would throw out vexatious complaints before they are formally investigated.
Source: National Post
Posted by unregistered user: Karol_K
Dr. Charles Smith protests against unfair treatment he got in the Ontario Courts and in the Toronto legal community.
Disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith bitterly complains that what he did over the years in Criminal Courts was not much different than what, now disgraced, psychologist “Dr.” Gregory Carter was doing in Family Courts.
Dr. Charles Smith claims that the only reason that he wrote his flawed pathology reports that were accusing parents that they murdered their children was that he was pressured by government officials who wanted to maximize number of children that CAS was able to take away from their parents. He claimed that in essence he was a hired gun serving provincial government’s agenda.
Dr. Charles Smith claims that psychologist “Dr.” Gregory Carter was providing similar services for Durham CAS in Family Courts accusing parents that they were mentally ill and they were danger to their own kids and by doing so he was helping CAS workers who wanted to maximize number of children that Durham CAS was able to take away from their parents.
What bothers Dr. Charles Smith the most is the fact that he was made into a scapegoat and nobody came to his defence whereas evident fraud “Dr.” Gregory Carter is hailed as a hero and a poor victim of disgruntled parents who lost their kids to CAS.
Where is the justice in any of that??
Posted March 24, 2010
Source: Ogopogo Media
Lawyers gum up custody process
Re: Put Limits On Custody Complaints, Group Urges, March 22.
Kris Titus of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council is correct that there are many inadequate custody assessments presented to Ontario family courts. As a former psychologist who conducted custody-access assessments for over 30 years, and as a former member of the complaints and discipline committees, it was clear that lawyers, not only "disgruntled parents," lodged complaints against assessors. A system in which a judge had to agree to a college investigation would risk having "hired guns" or incompetents operating with impunity.
The recently publicized events in Durham, Ont., in which certain judges favoured evidence provided by an alleged pseudo-psychologist over that of an authentic psychologist, demonstrate that having judges intrude into self-governing bodies would decrease the college's ability to protect the public. Colleges do not know whether a complaint is frivolous until they investigate.
Lawyers who do not like the results of a custody assessment may lodge strategic complaints, filing those complaints in family court to intimidate and impugn the testimony of the assessor. This is contrary to the Regulated Health Professions Act that prohibits complaints being presented in other civil and criminal venues. My experience is that the College of Psychologists has been remiss in preventing this situation. If it did, the incentive for lodging frivolous complaints would be significantly decreased.
Marty McKay, Toronto.
Source: National Post