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Peer review of State Pathologist reports

  • 05-11-2017 8:39pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 10


    Does anyone know when it became a requirement for the State Pathologist's work to be Peer Reviewed in murder trials?

    I'm asking because, in Dec 2016, in the case of DPP V Colm Deely the State asked the Court of Appeal to quash a murder conviction - which had been delivered in June 2013 - because Dr Jabbar's work in that case had not been peer reviewed as required.

    That implies that the Peer Review was a requirement from sometime before June 2013 - but I can't track down when exactly it became a requirement.

    Can anybody help?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 10 Reciprocity


    No ideas?
    Sorry - I know the question is very technical.
    Any suggestion what would be a better forum to post it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,189 ✭✭✭✭Victor


    You could try here: https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=392 but they might not know either. It is a limited 'market'.

    A query to a pathologist (most main hospitals would have some) or the professional organisations might elicit an answer - or at least a nod in the right direction.

    I would look at the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2014/act/11/ and related orders http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/isbc/2014_11.html and the Coroners Act, 1962 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1962/act/9/enacted/en/html http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/isbc/1962.html#a9_1962

    News article - https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/high-court/state-seeks-quashing-of-murder-conviction-over-pathologist-procedures-1.2904529 https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0320/861153-colm-deely-court/ Looking at the Furlong case may be more revealing. It might simply be a matter of good practice / contractual requirement as opposed to a statutory requirement, which this report suggests: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/high-court/no-murder-retrial-after-state-pathologist-dispute-1.2203612


  • Registered Users Posts: 10 Reciprocity


    Victor wrote: »
    You could try here: but they might not know either. It is a limited 'market'.

    A query to a pathologist (most main hospitals would have some) or the professional organisations might elicit an answer - or at least a nod in the right direction.

    I would look at the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014 and related orders and the Coroners Act, 1962

    News article - Looking at the Furlong case may be more revealing. It might simply be a matter of good practice / contractual requirement as opposed to a statutory requirement.

    Yep - a very limited market :)
    Thanks for the pointers. I'll follow them.

    I'm fairly sure 'peer review' was not a statutory requirement though it might now have jurisprudence authority.

    But we do know it predated the trial of Colm Deely in 2013. It seems like it is probably an 'instruction' issued after Dr Cassidy became State Pathologist in 2004.

    I'm trying to find when that 'instruction' - if that is what is was - was issued.

    Thanks again - much appreciated


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 14,454 Mod ✭✭✭✭johnnyskeleton


    Presumably they are referring to methods that he used which were not peer reviewed methods, rather than requiring that every report be reviewed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10 Reciprocity


    Presumably they are referring to methods that he used which were not peer reviewed methods, rather than requiring that every report be reviewed.

    No. Every pathology report produced for the State must now be peer reviewed - the entire report. At least one murder trial (Colin Deely) collapsed solely because the State's Pathology Report was not peer reviewed.

    I'm trying to find out when 'peer review' became a requirement.
    It would be nice to know how it came to be a requirement but that is less important.

    It's not in Statute or amendments thereto so it must be either a 'regulation' issued by the responsible minister/department or an 'instruction' - perhaps issued by Marie Cassidy, the State Pathologist.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 885 ✭✭✭Dingle_berry


    No. Every pathology report produced for the State must now be peer reviewed - the entire report.
    The above quote makes me wonder if you're not having luck with your search due to terminology. Pathology is the study of disease, the vast majority of "pathology reports" produced are from diagnostic labs and aren't authored, approved or ever seen by a Consultant Histopathologist.
    You're asking specifically about forensic post mortem (autopsy) reports. I don't know if the department of justice has requirements or codes of practice for forensic autopsy reports. The HSE desires all labs to be accredited to ISO15189.
    The professional body for histopathologists in Ireland is the Royal College of Pathologists in Ireland (RCPI) maybe try contacting them?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10 Reciprocity


    You're asking specifically about forensic post mortem (autopsy) reports.

    Yes I am.
    And more specifically than that, I'm asking about forensic post mortem (autopsy) reports presented by the State Pathologist as evidence in a murder prosecution.

    I though that was clear but sorry if it wasn't.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,911 ✭✭✭GavMan


    Maybe a request to the department of justice or the courts service?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,546 ✭✭✭rock22


    A quick Google search brought up this
    "“Of particular concern to Professor Cassidy was that amongst other things she was unfamiliar with the case despite having instructed that all homicide cases undertaken on behalf of the State be ‘peer reviewed’ … Her concerns were also shared by Dr Michael Curtis and Dr Margaret Bolster”."


    And from another report of DPP v Furlong
    "The trial was adjourned for some days when Prof Cassidy wrote to the DPP expressing her concerns about the evidence Dr Jaber had given.
    In the letter, she stated she was unfamiliar with the Furlong case, despite having instructed that all homicide cases undertaken on behalf of the State must be peer reviewed.
    Her colleagues Michael Curtis and Margot Bolster had since reviewed her own report and shared her concerns, she added."

    It would seem , therefore, that the requirement arises from an instruction of the State Pathologist.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,621 ✭✭✭wench


    I expect it was a system put in place after they ran into difficulty when Dr Harbison could no longer give evidence

    https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/harbison-too-ill-to-testify-in-court-cases-26410021.html



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  • Registered Users Posts: 40,001 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail


    I think that was the gist of the post by Wench. Dr Harbinson was too ill to give evidence in a trial and there was nobody able to give direct evidence of the autopsy results.



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