Legal Strength Or Fraility

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For Love and For Justice / Part 111 / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

The Best that Jensen Can Do
Part Two of Two Parts

Following the Hoffman testimonies, Finn Jensen called upon his heavyweights for testimony, Adrienne Glen and Dr. Margaret Colbourne. They represent the concern that arose within the child protection unit of Vancouver Children’s Hospital when Bethany was admitted, examined, tested and treated. Each of these women was doing a specific job to the best of her ability and each I must assume fulfilled her role with integrity. Adrienne, an intake social worker at the hospital, visited and conversed with the Bayne family and medical professionals and wrote timely reports and in the process expressed her opinions, sometimes about the Baynes. Dr. Colbourne, very connected to the Shaken Baby Syndrome theory through involvement with an international SBS organization and committed to the understanding that the presence of the diagnostic triad of (1) retinal bleeding, (2) bleeding in the protective layer of the brain, and (3) brain swelling, is always indicative of SBS, made that SBS diagnosis with Bethany in 2007. The testimony of each woman in court affirmed her report from 2007 and was designed to discredit Paul and Zabeth as normal, concerned and loving parents and to imply their responsibility in harming their child, ultimately to convince the judge that MCFD has acted from the outset upon accurate and trustworthy data. The snag for Jensen is that Counsel Doug Christie was able to cross examine both witnesses and consequently weaken the import of their testimonies. Glen was compelled to admit that her recorded perceptions that the Baynes spent relatively little time with Bethany in hospital were skewed and inaccurate and that they had in fact spent many daily hours in hospital with Bethany. Colbourne’s qualifications as an expert were questioned with regard to an absence of biomechanical training needed to ascertain whether or not Bethany’s injuries were accidental or non accidental. Theoretically, Colbourne’s SBS diagnosis would benefit greatly from the next witness if he was effective.

Now came Jensen’s super heavyweight Shaken Baby witness, Dr. Randall Alexander from Florida, who has testified in over 300 similar cases, and who was here to assure the court that unquestionably, Bethany’s injuries were the result of shaking. His towering persona began to dissolve when he was forced to admit that he wrote his SBS report on Bethany months before seeing the actual film work on Bethany a day before entering the witness box. He had to admit that he had not read Bethany’s birth records, reports concerning Bethany from area hospitals, or any of the ten experts’ reports on Bethany that countered his SBS claim. It was clear to the judge that Alexander’s report had been written with incomplete medical information. What kind of evidence is this?

Most recently Social Worker Loren Humeny testified and was cross examined for almost the equivalent of four days. It would be fair to say that this did not go well for MCFD. Under cross-examination Humeny had to admit that the risk assessment was written when he was in an adversarial position with the Baynes, because the MCFD was already seeking a continuing care order on all three Bayne children which the parents opposed, and clearly he had to make a clear case for the sake of the order. He admitted that the risk assessment was highly subjective and primarily his opinion. The truth is it had a dearth of factual evidence. It essentially vilified the Baynes and on the one page customarily assigned to summarize strengths, Humeny noted no strengths for them as individuals, as a couple or as parents, saying he didn’t know them, yet having to admit that he had spent many hours with them in meetings. The hundreds of letters of reference in support of the Baynes, he admitted he knew about but had not read. So perhaps he doesn’t know them. Is this evidence? And this thus far is the best that Jensen has been able to do with what he has.

What seemed so strong, so ominous, is paler now and fragile.




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