Today, the Baynes face yet another day in court. Although their current court case is scheduled for August 9-13th , they are asking for unsupervised visitation in their children's best interests. Once again lawyer Finn Jensen has prepared a copious rebuttal. This is a challenge to which good parents should never be subjected.Let's examine the preferred development of a case like this. First principle: When social workers remove a child from what appears to be apparent danger, that is only the beginning of the social workers' responsibilities. Then a thorough assessment must be conducted and written. Such a fact-finding process should be undertaken with an open mind. The social worker/investigator must probe for both positives and negatives, affirming and damaging facts. If social workers have committed themselves to working with people, this can only be accomplished by focusing upon strengths and favourable factors. Even when a life or family situation is bleak and unpromising initially, with some closer examination, the hopefulness and promise in a situation may become obvious. What should certainly not occur is the construction of an assessment with as much smear and tarnish as the investigator(s) can accumulate to support an early preconception.
Second principle: Assessing the cause of an injury is not to be regarded as a medical determination but rather a legal one. That has been the error in this case with the Baynes. Examination of the injured child in 2007 and consequent medical evidence was necessary and important and even compelling. However, it cannot be assumed within the purview of the medical examiner's qualifications to determine the cause and then that such testimony is regarded as expert testimony upon which social workers rest their case for child removal and in this case going so far as to propose to take away the children from the parents forever. This leads injustice inherent to the system built on the existing flawed Act. To build an accurate and trustworthy assessment the social worker must take into account both medical and social evidence. A thorough social profile will provide a responsible guide for the social worker to assess likelihood of deliberate injury. Of the many child injuries presented at hospitals each day, most are accidental. That means that an assumption of deliberate injury should never be automatic. Certainly, accidents can be attributed to carelessness by the caregiver yet this still does not adjudge the parent to be unfit to parent or a guaranteed risk to be careless a second time. In the Bayne case, the doctor made the assumption of non accidental injury albeit based upon accepted prescripts in her department of her hospital yet she made this diagnostic choice even when accidental injury was the parents' explanation and a valid alternative explanation as other experts later attested. While one can argue that the social workers are not to be faulted for accepting the doctor's report, had they done an unbiased and more scrupulous profiling they would have discovered contradictions with the diagnosis and with the assumption of non accidental injury.
Third Principle: Evidence in a well attested case should go before the court immediately. MCFD was responding adequately and correctly during the first few months of this case. However, as soon as the alternative and conflicting medical explanations appeared to explicate the baby's injuries this case was in doubt and should have been reconsidered. When the case already looked unwinnable or suspiciously lacking in evidence, MCFD should have reviewed the case. There was no abusive profile for either parent with which to take this awful case to court. At so many points MCFD decision makers should have stopped this and reassessed the case. Jensen himself told his MCFD client to give the boys back to the Baynes because MCFD had no case that it could win, yet here we are. MCFD rejected his advice. MCFD has been seeking to justify its ponderous insensitivity by forging ahead rather than being impeccably professional. For the MCFD a good case doesn't need to be delayed for one year, two years, almost three years. Yet this one has been so delayed. When a case is clear and without question, there is every reason to get the evidence before the court as soon as possible. It should be a concern to us all, to the judge, to the Director, to the Minister and Deputy Minister of MCFD that the CBC story which aired on its website revealed that the MCFD had not followed the time lines required by its own governing ACT (Child, Family and Community Services Act). Jensen tried to dance around this in court.