Terry Clackson Bio, Wiki
Terry Clackson is a Justice of the Court of Alberta who released a decision on Thursday, September 19th acquitting a couple charged in the death of their son. He sided with the defence’s medical expert over Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, a forensic pathologist who speaks with a thick Nigerian accent.
Terry Clackson Accused of Racist Comment
The Alberta judge has been accused of discrimination after he “harshly mocked” an African-born doctor’s accent, Bamidele Adeagbo the September 19th decision. Dozens of legal and medical professionals from across the country have filed a formal complaint with the Canadian Judicial Council, asking for an investigation.
Adeagbo said his autopsy on March 19th, 2013 concluded the boy died of bacterial meningitis and a lung infection. The judge in the end sided with the defence’s medical expert, former chief medical officer, Dr. Anny Sauvageau in finding the boy had viral, not bacterial meningitis and ultimately died of a lack of oxygen.
The complaint to the CJC filed Thursday (September 26th) afternoon and signed by 42 doctors, lawyers and professors said the judge made several comments about Dr. Adeagbo’s accent, and “inappropriately implicated his national or ethnic origin as a person of African roots.”
“We are of the view that Justice Clackson acted discriminatorily,” reads the complaint. “Some may perceive racism.”
University of Calgary medical ethicist Juliet Guichon, who signed the complaint, said the judge’s comments on Adeagbo’s accent were “unnecessary.
“The judge disregarded the medical evidence and it appears he disregarded it because he favoured the opinion of a Canadian-born forensic pathologist over the opinion of the medical examiner who happened to have been born in Nigeria but who actually did the autopsy,” said Guichon.
The Complaint against Terry Clackson
The complaint reads, “We believe that Justice Clackson’s choice of words is inappropriate, shocks the conscience, and speaking for ourselves, undermines our confidence in the administration of justice.”
Clackson “harshly mocked” Adeagbo’s manner of speech and accented English, the complaint reads.
A passage from Clackson’s decision Reads:
“His ability to articulate his thoughts in an understandable fashion was severely compromised by: his garbled enunciation; his failure to use appropriate endings for plurals and past tenses; his failure to use the appropriate definite and indefinite articles; his repeated emphasis of the wrong syllables; dropping his Hs; mispronouncing his vowels; and the speed of his responses.”
Although Clackson wrote that Adeagbo’s accent “does not form a basis for a realistic concern that he was biased or partial,” the complainants say the judge gave the doctor’s evidence less weight because of the perceived speech problems.
Terry Clackson made no Complaint to Sauvageau’s French-Canadian accent
The complaints also noted that Clackson made no reference to Sauvageau’s French-Canadian accent.
“It is striking that Justice Clackson did not levy similar critiques against the opposing medical expert in the case, Dr. Anny Sauvageau, who is Québécoise and who in public addresses speaks with a French-Canadian accent.”
David and Collet Stephan Found Not Guilty
Justice Terry Clackson found the Alberta couple, David and Collet who treated their son’s illness with natural remedies rather than take him to a doctor not guilty in the toddler’s death after a retrial. David and Collet Stephan were tried on charges of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in 2012.
Justice’s Terry’s ruling was the second trial for the Stephans, who were found guilty by a Lethbridge jury in 2016. While the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the original trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury.
The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service has not said whether it plans to appeal Clackson’s decision.
Terry Clackson Criticism
According to CBC, The judge has been the subject of media attention and criticism since 2018 when the Supreme Court ordered a retrial after finding Clackson had relied on rape myths and stereotypes in acquitting a stepfather of sexual assault.
A spokesperson for Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench says the court is aware of the complaint.
“Because this matter is the subject of a complaint before the CJC, and because it may be subject to appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal, it would be inappropriate for the court to comment on this matter,” reads a written statement.