Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Day 6 of the Canadian Case
Thanks again to Nancy Mereska of Stop Polygamy in Canada for being there in person and keeping us up to date on the latest. Great job, Nancy!
November 30, 2010—Day 6, Challenging the validity of Professor Angela Campbell’s research
First things first—Chief Justice Robert Bauman still reserved making any ruling on the publication of the witness videos because the person who brought the complaint wants to address the court re her concerns about privacy and how she didn’t know the videos would be published by the media. She will be doing this via telephone in the morning, Wednesday, Dec. 1, which will be Day 7 of the hearing.
The issue today was the validity of Professor Angela Campbell’s research on the community of Bountiful, B.C. The lawyers for the AGBC, CAG, and Stop Polygamy in Canada brought to bear questions addressed to Professor Campbell on her qualifications to do the study on Bountiful; and, her generalizations.
In short, because I have nine pages of notes. Brian Samuels led the questioning of Prof. Angela Campbell (Brian & Prof. C, respectively in this report)
Brian: Wanted to know if Prof. C’s study had a social research aspect; and, if it did was Prof. C schooled in sociology, anthropology, ethnology or psychology.
Prof. C: Cited articles she had published but had to admit that she had no schooling in the disciplines Brian posed.
Brian: Wanted to know how Prof. C had decided to undertake the study on Bountiful.
Prof. C: Told how she was contacted by three or four women in Bountiful after they read an article she wrote—“Wives’ tales. . .” that reflected on research in Bountiful, then she applied to the SSHRC for funding to do the study.
Brian: Wanted to know if she used any methodology in deciding on the number of people male or female she would interview.
Prof. C: Admitted that she had no particular method, that she was not familiar with research methodology and she hired a sociology graduate student to assist her.
Brian: Wanted to know the nature of the questions she used and how did she arrange contacts with the women she interviewed in Bountiful?
Prof. C: Admitted there was no specific structure for the questions she used; and, said her contacts came via word-of-mouth through the original women who contacted her to do a study.
Brian: Did an overview of Prof. C’s qualifications to undertake such a study—Prof. C has no academic knowledge of anthropology, sociology, psychology or ethology; never taken any courses in qualitative methodology. He showed Prof. C some textbooks that to me, represented sociology research methodology 101. I studied one of the books years ago in my sociology studies.
Prof. C: Admitted she was interested in a “case study.”
Brian: More questions about structured and unstructured questions. Asked Prof. C if she believed that qualitative research produces better data.
Prof. C: Yes.
Brian: What is the sociological definition of a cult?
Prof. C: I don’t know. She gave her own opinion of what a cult is and said she did not believe Bountiful is a cult.
Brian: Do you know the sociological research methods for doing a study on a cult?
Prof. C: No.
Brian: Are you familiar with the software used for qualitative research?
Prof. C: No.
Brian: Can you deduct a broad conclusion based on your research?
Prof. C: No. I can’t.
Brian: Showed her a copy of the “International Journal of Qualitative Research” and asked her if she was familiar with or had ever read it.
Prof. C: No.
Brian: Referred to paragraphs in her affidavit where she had made generalizations.
Also, during Brian’s interrogation, he wanted to know if Prof. C believed that everything the women told her was the truth; and, if she ever spoke to any male leaders in Bountiful.
Prof. C said that “yes” she believed what the women told her was true; and, “no” she did not ever talk to any male leaders in Bountiful. Also, the women she spoke to were from the Winston Blackmore group. She did not know if the women she spoke to were all the wives of the same man or not.
Leah Greathead from the AGBC’s office really grilled Prof. C on her generalizations throughout her affidavit. In a couple of places Prof. C said that what was written was not what she meant and reworded the paragraphs on the stand!
L.G. The reason for your interviews was to give voice to the women you interviewed?
Prof. C: Yes.
L.G. You wanted to avoid putting words in their mouths?
Prof. C: Yes.
Then Leah Greathead went through the redacted transcripts of the interviews citing time after time where Prof. C provided leading questions to the women she interviewed. (Redacted transcripts are transcripts where the identity of the interviewee or anything that might identify them is blacked out!)
L.G.: Wanted clarification on the place where Prof. C asked the women of Bountiful if they were not able to contact resources outside the community because of fear of being stigmatized.
The answer in the transcripts was that the women said they were not afraid to go to outside resources—concluding that services are accessible to the residents of Bountiful.
Prof. C: Yes.
L.G.: Wanted to know if Prof. C conducted all of the interviews.
Prof. C: Yes.
L.G.: Read on in the transcripts—Bountiful woman, “. . .And people have always been so good to us.”
L.G.: Another page: “All of the residents can access general services without fear of doing so. . .”
At one point Prof. C had to admit that “services” meant grocery shopping, etc., not mental health, reproductive health, psychological or general family services.
L.G.: Concluded that Prof. C’s submissions should be dismissed in their entirety.
Lawyer for the Canadian AG: (did not get his name, but his grandmother was sitting behind me and pointed out to me that “he is my grandson!”—now that is a special fan club!)—LCAG
LCAG: That there is an admissibility issue. Prof. C’s evidence is not admissible because she was given a theme outside her frame of expertise. She makes sweeping conclusions that could be reversed on appeal. We must be cautious re expert witnesses in that they submit evidence within the framework of their area of expertise. The court must distinguish between the true knowledge of an expert as opposed to a “generalist” who lacks the credentials. The expert must be involved in the studies surrounding the field in which they give evidence. E.g. the scientific community. He cited passages in Prof. C’s affidavit where Prof. C does not even know if the individuals she interviewed even spoke the truth to her about their life in Bountiful; where Prof. C engages in speculation; where Prof. C’s conclusions cannot be a true representative of the women living in Bountiful; that Prof. C went into conversation with her interviewees re the criminalization/decriminalization of polygamy.
Karen Horsman, lawyer for the BCAG:
K.H. reviewed the number of tours Prof. C conducted in Bountiful--two—one in 2008 and one in 2009 of six and seven days, respectively with one-half day at each end was for travel so actually, five and six days for research work.
K.H.: Told the court that Prof. C’s submission does not carry any weight because of her lack of expertise. What in Prof. C’s affidavit gives her any elevated status that she can submit an expert report? That she is not qualified to make the generalizations she did. Prof. C reworded her own affidavit in her testimony. Also, contradicted her own transcripts.
Tim Dickenson, lawyer for the Amicus, rose to say that excerpts are taken from documents that are cloaked in confidentiality.
K.H. said that paragraphs would have to be completely reworded to mean women in Bountiful have difficulty accessing mental health services, etc. because Prof. C had said in her testimony that services meant grocery shopping, etc.
Robert Deane gave the summation for Stop Polygamy in Canada:
R.D.: Stop Polygamy in Canada objects to Prof. C as a qualitative researcher. That her generalized opinion expressed as a result of her interviews is inadequate. Cited an Ontario Court of Appeal case where there was a test to assess the reliability of expert witnesses:
1) What extent has the witness honoured their area of expertise within the evidence they took to “study”/submit to the court.
2) Is there an investigative discourse analysis—importance of peer review throughout the process. Prof C did not have a step by step peer review process.
3) Prof. C is not a sociologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, or psychologist. She didn’t spend an extended length of time in Bountiful in order to carry out an qualitative study.
4) Prof. C admitted that her interviews cannot be generalized at all—other than related to the 22 women she interviewed.
T.D. rose to say that Prof C provided the “only empirical data on the FLDS”.
Craig Jones rose to say that Prof. Joseph Henrich provides data in his second affidavit. (I was thinking and wondering why no one mentioned Dr. Larry Beall—a star in studying polygamy groups!)
T.D. rose to point out that both Prof. Rebecca Cook and Prof. Nicholas Bala who are expert witnesses for the BCAG and Stop Polygamy in Canada cited Prof. C’s work in their research papers.
His Lordship Chief Justice Robert Bauman ruled that Professor Angela Campbell’s affidavits and evidence are being admitted.
Note: the question will be—How much weight will Chief Justice Bauman give to this research with anonymous participants in the final analysis?
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada