Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Charles Smith Award: Presented to Joe Karam (New Zealand) for the courageous battle he fought in pursuit of justice for since-exonerated David Bain. Harold Levy. Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;


I am pleased to present the Charles Smith Blog award to Joe Karam  of New Zealand for the courageous battle he fought in pursuit of justice for since-exonerated David Bain. Mr. Karam wrote many books and articles about the case in a bid to keep the issues in the face of a government and police force that were determined to keep David Bain behind bars  in spite of a terribly bungled, police investigation tainted by tunnel vision, and evidence which showed that he might be innocent - and all of this at great personal cost, including  being the recipient of vicious personal slanders over many years.

Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog. 

A Wikipedia entry informs us that: "Karam is known for his many years of unqualified support for David Bain, who was convicted of murdering all five members of his family in 1995. Karam's research and sustained pressure on the justice system culminated in an appeal to the Privy Council in Britain in May 2007, at which Bain's conviction was overturned. The Privy Council found there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice, quashed his convictions and ordered a retrial. After his convictions were quashed, Karam allowed Bain to stay at his house in the Waikato on bail prior to the retrial two years later. Bain stayed for about three months before moving to Auckland.[6] The new trial was held in 2009 and Bain was found not guilty on all five charges.[7] Without Karam's support it is unlikely there would ever have been a retrial. His interest in the case began in 1996 when he read a newspaper article about “an old music teacher and a bunch of young, long-haired university students” trying to raise money for Bain's appeal by selling jam.[8] He went and gave them money. He began to study the evidence presented at the original trial and began to feel something was wrong with the case.[9] He went to visit Bain in prison in Christchurch and subsequently visited him over 200 times.[9] According to media commentator Paul Holmes, Karam was appalled at the way the family, the Police and the Fire Service arranged to burn the Bain house down.[10] Based on his extensive research over many years, Karam wrote four books about David Bain's case. The first was "David and Goliath: the Bain family murders" published in 1997. Karam made accusations against two individual police officers in David and Goliath as a result of which he was sued for defamation. (He won that case as well.) The book created a media furore. Karam appeared regularly on Holmes and 'did a thousand other media interviews'.[1] The second book, "Bain and Beyond" was published in 2000 and the third, "Innocent!: seven critical flaws in the conviction of David Bain" came out in 2001. The fourth book "Trial By Ambush: The Prosecutions Of David Bain" was released in 2012. In this book, Karam accuses Robin Bain of the murders of his wife and three of their children before shooting himself.[11]While supporting Bain, Karam spent his 'considerable fortune' on the case.[12] He'd become wealthy in various business ventures including hamburger bars and country pubs and the country's first major independent vending machine company. He had more than 20 investment properties, a launch and racehorses and lived on a 10 acre property in Clevedon. Karam says the crusade cost him millions and his friends estimated his personal losses could be as much as $4 million in terms of his time, loss of earnings and costs of legal and forensic experts.[13] He spent it in his pursuit of the case and ended up living in 15 to 20 different rental houses over the past decade while trying to prove Bain's innocence.[12] He received some compensation prior to the retrial by working as a researcher and investigator for Bain's legal team, where he was paid up to $95 an hour.[9][12]Karam has also taken legal action to defend himself in pursuit of the case. In addition to being sued for defamation by two police officers, he also took on the media with litigation against TVNZ, North and South magazine and the New Zealand Herald.[12] He sued journalist Rosemary McLeod over an article that cast doubt on his motives for supporting Bain. They settled out of court.[1] In 2011 he sued Trade Me for defamation over 349 posts on the website's public message boards about Bain.[14] In 2012 he began legal proceedings against Kent Parker and Victor Purkiss for defamation.[15] Parker and Purkiss are members of a group opposed to David Bain receiving compensation from the crown. The case involves about 100 comments posted by the pair and will be heard at the Auckland High Court on 14 October 2013.[16] Karam acknowledges that fighting the case has taken its toll on him over the years. Interviewed in the New Zealand Herald in 2007 under the headline Joe Karam: Freedom Fighter, he said "For many years the mainstream media, judiciary and politicians just thought of me as a raving redneck who'd lost the plot."[12] He stopped socialising with rich-list friends because people would inevitably "buttonhole him about the case" and he felt compelled to put them straight – "destroying the dinner party" in the process. He said that "every morning for two years, he would wake up, sink to the edge of the bed and cry".[1] When asked what motivated him to keep going, he said it was because of his "innate hatred of unfairness and urge to help those less fortunate".[12]"


 This award emanated from The Charles Smith Blog which I created on 2006 to expose the havoc wreaked by Dr. Charles Randal Smith - a pediatric pathologist who purported to be a forensic pathologist and perceived his role to be that of an advocate for the prosecution team - and in the process he destroyed many lives. (Dr. Smith was a pediatric pathologist); Although much of its attention has been focused on an independent public inquiry into many of Smith's cases, now that the Inquiry has completed its work, I am also focusing on ongoing cases anywhere in the world which involve miscarriages of justice caused by flawed forensic pathology, flawed pathologists, junk science, pseudo-experts or a combination of any of the above. Some of the cases considered by the Blog have only come to public attention because of the magnificent efforts of journalists and occasionally people from other walks of life.   I myself was a reporter for many years at the Toronto Star. I launched the Charles Smith Blog Award in 2009 as a forum in which I could honour these individuals  by drawing attention to their work on stories and books which, in my personal view, represent what journalism at its best is all about - the exposure of miscarriages of justice.

EXPOSURE: The Charles Smith Blog has attracted almost 300,000  hits from all over the world since its inception in 2009 and is currently listed in several lists of the top forensic science and criminology blogs.
CRITERIA: The award is presented for excellence in exposing miscarriages of justice caused anywhere in the world by flawed pathology, flawed pathologists, junk science, pseudo-experts or a combination of any of the above.
UNUSUAL NATURE: This award is entirely virtual. There is no no ceremony; There is no prize; There is no certificate. It is a pure and unadulterated honour bestowed by myself as publisher in recognition of contributions by others to this important area of journalism.
0: Kevin Morgan (AUSTRALIA): author of "Gun Alley: Murder, Lies and Failure of Justice, who single-handedly fought for and obtained the forensic materials which led to Colin Ross's pardon almost ninety years after he was executed.
0: Michael Hall (U.S.A.): For his excellent work in Texas Monthly exposing the miscarriages of justice that have occurred as a result of scent-lineups and the "experts" who conduct them, and
0: Sun-Sentinel reporter Paula McMahon (U.S.A.) for her ground-breaking reporting over a nine year period which led to the freeing and exoneration of Anthony Caravella.
O: Journalist Stewart Cockburn (AUSTRALIA) for his ground-breaking work in "The Advertiser" which exposed the miscarriage of justice suffered by Ted Splatt and triggered the Royal Commission which led to Splatt's exoneration.
0: Australian scientist Tom Mann (AUSTRALIA) for his sterling efforts to publicize the injustice perpetrated on Ted Splatt in the courts including the publication of "Flawed Forensics: The Ted Splatt case and Stewart Cockburn," a monumental book which demonstrates the tragic consequences which can unfold when science gets twisted out of proportion in the courts and those entrusted with the task of protecting our criminal justice system abdicate their responsibilities.
0: New Yorker staff writer David Grann (U.S.A.)for his awesome exposee of the faulty arson "science" that resulted in the wrongful conviction and execution in Texas of Cameron Todd Willingham. (Photo: David Grann);
0: Pamela Colloff (U.S.A) for her Texas Monthly stories which resulted in the freeing of Anthony Graves within 30 days of the appearance of her first story. Anthony Graves was convicted and sentenced to die in 1994 for six horrific murders in the Central Texas town of Somerville.
0: Spencer Hsu (U.S.A) for his  revelations in the Washington Post  that for years, the U.S. Department of Justice has known that flawed forensic work by FBI experts may have led to the convictions of innocent people, but prosecutors rarely told defendants or their attorneys. Hsu discovered that Justice Department officials began reviewing cases after defense attorneys pointed out problems with evidence coming out of FBI labs. But the review was limited. "As a result," Hsu wrote, "hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration, a retrial or a retesting of evidence using DNA because FBI hair and fiber experts may have misidentified them as suspects."
 0: Robert Moles and Bibi Sangha (Australia) for their  intensive efforts (including writing influential books and articles) to  persuade South Australia to establish a new statutory right of appeal have rightfully been recognized by  Flinders University. Much of their tireless campaign has been inspired by  the need to  rectify disturbing miscarriages of justice - sometimes decades old - which have been caused by flawed forensic evidence.

SUBMISSIONS: Nominations may be made by email to myself - Harold Levy Publisher of The Charles Smith Blog at - directing me to the published material in question with a brief note as to why you believe the author or authors should receive the Charles Smith Blog Award.



Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

I look forward to hearing from readers at:;