A report on a Toronto laboratory’s discredited alcohol- and drug-testing process shows how important it is for child-protection lawyers to closely examine, and, where necessary, challenge scientific evidence, Toronto criminal lawyer Melanie Webb tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“Lawyers in this field will need to educate themselves on how to deal with so-called expert evidence,” says Webb, founder and principal of Melanie J. Webb Barrister.
Justice Judith Beaman was commissioned by the Ontario government to review hundreds of child-protection cases affected by the drug-testing laboratory. The flawed process behind the Motherisk laboratory only came to light as a result of an appeal in a criminal case, in which field Motherisk testing had been relied upon only “a handful” of times, even though the results of such testing had been admitted without question in tens of thousands of child protection cases over many years. She concluded in her report that the hair tests were unfair and harmful when used to monitor parents for substance use and determine their credibility.