Anthropology 2235A/B Lecture Notes - Forensic Dentistry, Forensic Anthropology, Toronto Pearson International Airport
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Anthro Notes – Sept. 13/12
- Formative Period – highlights: The first use of science by police and courts in Canada was the
evidence of medical practitioners to assist in determining the cause of death. In 1859, professor
Henry Homes Croft testified at the trial of Dr. William King. Crime labs formed in Quebec (1914),
Ontario (1932), Regina (1937), and Ottawa (1942). There was no formal recognized use of forensic
anthropology or dentistry.
- Under the BNA, Canada became a country in 1867. The BNA gave the federal government the power
to enact the criminal law, meaning Canada has a single criminal code. However, the administration of
the law is a provincial responsibility. The provinces administer justice and each province has its own
court system and prosecutors. Charges are preferred in the form of her majesty the queen (R for
Regina) versus the name of the accused. Prosecutions are conducted by crown attorneys appointed
by provincial cabinet. Crown attorneys have no investigative function. Investigation of sudden death
is a provincial responsibility assigned to coroners or medical examiners.
- Coalescent Period – highlights: The Canadian society of forensic science was formed in 1953 and the
journal for the CSFS was developed in 1963. The formal development of forensic anthropology and
odontology occurred in 1972 as they became sections of the AAFS. There was continual development
and expansion of RCMP laboratories during this period.
- Modern Period – highlights: Forensic science was dominated by DNA and the emergence of the CFS
(centre of forensic science northern regional lab). Accreditation standards were emphasized (ASCLD
– American Society of Crime Lab Directors, and SCC – Standards Council of Canada). The charter of
rights and freedoms (1982) had a role in warrant legislation (DNA warrant act). The RCMP national
DNA databank was developed. Forensic anthropology emerged as an important area of individuation
in Canada and internationally (mass disasters, human rights).
- History of forensic anthropology in Canada: Before the 1970s there was only sporadic case work
done mostly by medical researchers at universities. As a field, physical anthropology started at UofT
in the 1960s. Students were trained in skeletal biology and were primarily dedicated to analyzing
archaeological skeletal populations. It became a separate section of the AAFS in 1972 and diplomate
exams were created in 1977. A diplomate is someone who holds a diploma. Law enforcement
agencies in the 1970s increasingly requested physical anthropologists to assist in the identification of
human remains. The first formal courses and programs in forensic anthropology emerged in the
1980s. In 1991, forensic anthropology became a separate section of the Canadian society of forensic
- History of forensic dentistry in Canada: 1948 – Forensic dentists assist in the identification of victims
of the ship Noronic, which burned in Toronto. Half the victims were identified using dental records.
This event serves as the landmark for dentistry’s contribution to mass disaster identification. 1970 –
A small group of dentists founded the Canadian society of forensic odontology (CSFO). They helped at
the AC-DC-8 crash at Malton airport, and this helped convince other people that dental evidence was
an efficient means of personal identification. 1972 – It became a section of the AAFS and the CSFS.
- Provinces with coroners: BC, SK, ON, QC, NB, PEI. Provinces with medical examiners: AB, MB, NS, NF.
There are nine regions/headquarters in Ontario for coroners – Central (Brampton), Toronto
East/West, Central West (Guelph), Eastern (Kingston), Northeast (Peterborough), Southwest
(London), Niagara (St. Catharines), Northwest (Thunder Bay). There are two forensic labs in Ontario
– The centre of forensic sciences (Toronto, 1932) and the northern regional lab of the centre of
forensic sciences (Sault Ste. Marie, 1992). These two labs were accredited by ASCLD-LAB in the 90s.
There are also RCMP labs. The lab in Quebec doesn’t have to be accredited, but all other labs in
Canada are accredited by SCC.
- The objective of these labs is the assist in the just and effective enforcement of the law via – 1. The
production of evidence in a legally admissible form for law enforcement officers, crown attorneys,
lawyers, coroners, pathologists, and official investigative agencies by means of the scientific
examination, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of physical objects and materials. 2. The
provision of educations programs and materials for persons and agencies using forensic science
services. 3. The conduct and encouragement of research to expand forensic science services.
- Organization of Ontario forensic labs: There are different sections within the lab building. Chemistry
is involved in arson, GRS analysis, unknown substances, and paint and glass analysis. Documents and
photography is involved in forgeries and handwriting analysis. Firearms and toolmarks is involved in
ballistics, physical matches, and crime scene reconstruction. Toxicology is involved in drug and
alcohol analysis. Biology is involved in identification of body fluids and botanical materials,
examination of trace evidence, bloodstain analysis, DNA analysis, and skeletal analysis. DNA has
transformed the function of all the units, particularly the biology unit.
- Forensic accreditation in Canada: Public labs – CSFS Toronto (ASCLD 1993), Northern lab (ASCLD
1998), RCMP (SCC 2000-02). Private labs – Maxxam analytics in Guelph (2000), Helix Biotech in
Vancouver (2001), Warnex in Thunder Bay (2003).
- Lab accreditation: There are rigorous standards for quality assurance (a program conducted by a lab
to ensure accuracy and reliability) and quality control (internal activities performed according to
externally established standards). Proficiency testing is done using blind design. Blind design is when
you do something but you don’t know what the outcome will be, and you don’t know what you’re
doing (just doing a test). It’s a way to assure you’re not biasing your sample. The physical structure of
the lab must be designed for efficiency and continuity. All staff have training guidelines and the
director must have court experience.
- Accreditation standards in Canada: In 1994, the CSFS and the SCC (standards council of Canada)
began to develop a voluntary forensic accreditation program for all fields of forensic testing. This
resulted in the launch of a new SCC forensic testing accreditation program in 1998. A guideline
document (CAN-P-1578) called Guideline for the Accreditation of Forensic Testing Laboratories was
designed to meet the requirements of the predominant international laboratory accreditation guide
(ISO/IEC Standard 17025), which is the standard operating procedure. These standards dictate the
quality assurance requirements that a lab must follow to ensure the quality and integrity of the data
and the competency of the lab.
- DNA and Canada: In the late 1980s voir dire hearings were common. Now any new nuclear DNA tests
are rarely challenged – the last voir direfor DNA testing was on the admissibility of mtDNA in 2006.
From the moment DNA evidence was first introduced in Canadian courts, it was apparent that
legislative changes were required. In 1995, the DNA warrant act defined circumstances for collecting
samples from an accused individual if it is deemed that DNA could be probative. In 1998, the DNA
identification act said that DNA profiles can be obtained from individuals convicted of designated
crimes and stored in a database. In 1999, Canadian government labs were connected to CODIS. In
2000, Canada’s national DNA databank was launched. In 2005, Bill C-13 expanded the indictable
offenses under Canada’s criminal code (an indictment is a formal charge of a serious crime). DNA is
ubiquitous, meaning it is left everywhere. The purpose of the Canadian national DNA databank is to
help law enforcement agencies identify persons alleged to have committed designated offenses,
including those committed before the coming into force via the DNA identification act. This databank
stores crime scene index and convicted offenders index.
- Admissibility of scientific evidence in Canada: As part of the paradigm shift, new rule for presenting
scientific evidence in court in Canada were defined by R vs. Mohan. The Mohan ruling – 1. Relevance
(of data), 2. Necessity in assisting the trier of fact, 3. The absence of any exclusionary rule, 4.
Qualifications of the expert (knowledge of errors of methods, have published in field).
- Canadian forensics summary: The BNA gives the federal government power to enact criminal law,
but the administration of the law is the responsibility of the provinces. All provinces have a court of
appeal, but the final court of appeal is the supreme court of Canada. Investigations of sudden or
unexpected deaths are a provincial responsibility assigned to coroners or medical examiners who are
appointed by provincial cabinet. Each province has at least one chief coroner/medical examiner. The
RCMP have jurisdiction in all provinces except Ontario and Quebec. Most forensic work is conducted
by accredited government labs. Forensic scientists in Ontario report to the coroner and must know
the rules that are operant in the Ontario system. Admissibility is based on the Mohan rule.
- Death investigation in Canada: There are two types of systems – medical examiner and coroner – for
investigating unnatural deaths. Investigating sudden or unexpected deaths in Canada is a provincial
responsibility assigned to coroners/medical examiners. Death certification and registration are
provincial concerns – it is a statutory duty of the registrar general (vital stats act) to obtain info on
death and issue a death certificate. Death is certified by an attending physician or coroner. The
medical cause of death is often incorrect (20% of cases) and physicians often list mode of death
without listing the cause of death. Mode is the mechanism or manner by which it occurred (ex.
accident, suicide). Cause is the underlying biological reason for death. Forensic pathologists usually
make the judgement on cause of death and manner of death, coroners/MEs make to pronouncement.
There is no recognized forensic pathology program in Canada. In 5% of coroner autopsies, there is no
cause of death found (especially in the elderly, in which death is often listed as natural). Physicians
should know the provisions and requirements of the acts in the various jurisdictions to avoid
problems. To avoid legal hassles, all deaths should be reported to the coroners. Coroners and MEs are
responsible for identifying cause of death and manner of death. They rely on other scientists (ex.
forensic anthropologist, pathologist) to assist with the interpretation of cause and manner of death.
- The coroner system: The coroner system in Ontario (Coroner’s Act of Ontario) has been in operation
since before confederation. It is a locally based system. All coroners are MDs and the investigation of
death is their main responsibility. In ON, there are 8 regional coroners. Many local coroners are not
trained in forensic science and they are appointed by the lieutenant governor of Canada. Mike
Pollanen is the first forensically trained pathologist. The chief coroner of Ontario is Dr. Andrew
McCallum. If a non-suspicious death occurs in an institution, the coroner may undertake
investigation without the police. If death is suspicious, the coroner can issue a warrant for a post-
mortem examination to be conducted by a pathologist. Occasionally, a public or coroner’s inquest is
held. Expert witness testimony can be given by any scientist involved in the case.
- The medical examiner system: Four provinces have this system. In Alberta, it is administered under
the fatal inquiries act (FIA). One medical person functions as coroner and pathologist. In big cities,
there are full time MEs. Generally, deaths are more thoroughly examined because the coroner is a
pathologist. The fatalities review board reviews all unnatural deaths and decides if an inquest is
required. In this system, forensic experts provide data for MEs and do not provide testimony.
- Questions (5 Ws) for coroner and medical examiners: 1. Who – Identification (usually by next of kin
when remains are whole). Many errors are made by relatives. Tentative identification by personal
effects is not legal in Canada. 2. What was the medical cause of death? (pathologist information). 3.
When did the deceased die? Many lines of evidence depending on the length of time (entomology). 4.
Where did the deceased die? (bodies can be moved). 5. By what means did deceased die (manner of
death – this is primarily supplied by the pathologist). A team approach is needed to answer these