5 May 2010

Volney’s bovine reasonings

’People should read my judgment and they would quite well understand why I ruled as I had. Most people don’t recall the facts of the Brad Boyce trial. It was a case of mismanagement and a matter of intervening cause of death-broncho pneumonia, he said.

’The person (Johnson) died from something totally unrelated to the initial injury. And the onus was on the State..to negate that, that intervening event was not the substantial cause of death. The State had failed to do so,’ he added.

’The guy (Johnson) died not from the injuries sustained (from the blow from Boyce) but from broncho-pneumonia, (which came) because the nurses put a feeding tube down into his lungs and because of all the food that went down into his lungs. They placed him on a ventilator and the ventilator malfunctioned. And the State had to prove that it was not medical negligence on the part of the San Fernando Hospital that had been the substantial cause of death. And the State failed to do so. So I upheld the submission of no case. People don’t seem to understand the law. They just see the result and they conclude ’travesty’ (of justice).

He stated further that his decision in this case was reviewed by the Court of Appeal. The State lost its appeal against his decision and they (Court of Appeal) did not order a retrial, he noted. The State appealed again to the Privy Council which did not order a retrial, Volney said. ’The system has three layers and I was just the first. I can’t be blamed for the eventual so-called travesty of justice. There are two courts of review after me. Why don’t they (the protestors and his detractors) blame the other courts including the Court of Appeal in which three judges reviewed my decision? Why don’t they blame them? Why didn’t they order a retrial? Why don’t they blame the Privy Council for not ordering a retrial? Why are they only training their guns on me and not at the Court of Appeal or the Privy Council? They want to blame me because it is expedient to them to blame me,’ Volney stated.

Your excuses are pitiful, Volney. I've read the Privy Council judgment, and the Law Lords ruled you were plain wrong, despite your present posturing.

The reason no retrial was ordered was because 9 years had elapsed between the initial trial (and also because Boyce skipped the country to Australia). That was made clear in the Privy Council judgment.

All this smoke about pneumonia and ventilators is nonsense. You directed the jury on the matter of Des Vignes’ qualifications. The Privy Council soundly chastised you for this:

5. Events then took an unusual course. After Dr Daisley had been cross-examined, but before re-examination, the judge of his own motion recalled Dr des Vignes to ask him about his qualifications in forensic pathology. It appeared that he was not registered as such with the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Board and that his fellowship in Alberta was more in the nature of an apprenticeship than a formal course leading to a certificate or diploma. Instead, the Chief Medical Examiner, under whose general supervision he had performed some 270 autopsies, had simply written a letter recommending Dr des Vignes as competent to act as a forensic pathologist and he had been so employed by the Forensic Science Centre.

6. The judge then, still acting of his own accord, called Professor Chandulal, the Chief Forensic Pathologist, to ask him about the qualifications required for civil service appointment as a forensic pathologist. He said that one needed a medical degree followed by a postgraduate degree in forensic pathology which would be accepted as registrable by the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago. Professor Chandulal said that he was registered as a forensic pathologist but that Dr des Vignes was not.

7. After hearing this evidence and submissions from counsel, the judge decided that Dr des Vignes was not qualified as an expert for the purpose of giving an opinion on the cause of death and that his evidence was inadmissible and should be withdrawn from the jury. He then ruled that the evidence of Dr des Etanges [house officer attending to Johnson at hospital] did not provide a sufficient basis for a finding by the jury that Boyce had caused Johnson’s death and directed the jury to acquit.

And you would know that all actions following Boyce's blow can be directly attributed to him, hence had Johnson not be struck, he would not have been in hospital, not been needing a feeding tube, not gotten pneumonia...

You have made a mockery of the law, then and now. Your excuses remain abhorrent, not only to the population but to the family of Johnson..

The State v. Brad Boyce.final