CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A formal complaint has been lodged against the judge who cleared two parents in the death of their young son, accusing him of racism.
It has been sent to the Canadian Judicial Council, signed by dozens of legal and medical professionals, including some from the University of Calgary.
This centres around the recent acquittal of David and Collet Stephan, who were found not guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for the 19-month-old son Ezekiel, who died from meningitis in 2012.
This was the second trial for the Stephans, who were originally found guilty because they did not take their son to a doctor sooner.
In the re-trial, Justice Terry Clackson sided with the defence’s medical expert who said Ezekiel had viral meningitis as opposed to bacterial meningitis and died from a lack of oxygen while being transported to the hospital.
In the complaint, the authors write that Clackson made a series of ad hominem attacks against the forensic pathologist called by prosecutors, Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, who is from Nigeria.
In Clackson’s decision, he wrote the pathologist was hard to understand due to his accent and also criticized his body language.
Authors of the complaint say this is a very concerning situation and could be perceived as racism.
“The highest thing in our law is the constitution, and that includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And one thing that the Charter of Rights says is that everyone is equal under the law. And that, of course, means that everyone is equal in a courtroom,” said Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa who helped write the complaint.
They added it was also strange that Clackson sided with the defence’s expert, Dr. Anny Sauvageau, who is from Quebec and speaks with a thick French-Canadian accent.
The complaint states that it appears Dr. Sauvageau was treated more favorably.
“I mean, the witness comes to court and says ‘tomahto,’ and another witness comes to court and says ‘tomahto’, not ‘tomato’, does that really make a difference to how the judge should look at the testimony? I don’t think so,” added Attaran.
The experts say Clackson’s choice of words is inappropriate, shocks the conscience and undermines their confidence in justices
The Crown has also left the door open to appeal the decision concerning the Stephans.