forensic pathologist John Butt





Are lawyers your only clients?

Generally, yes. Although we occasionally accept work from private clients, we prefer to work with a lawyer from the start. Most of our civil cases are litigation, referred by lawyers doing personal injury work, representing both plaintiff and defence sides. In cases of medical treatment/negligence, you should always consult a lawyer first. He/she can then explain the lengthy procedures and the consequences of legal action before issues are set out and agreed. Only then should you decide to proceed with a direct request for our assessment and/or advice.

What are examples where you do work directly with clients (i.e. without a lawyer)?

This occurs when next of kin are seeking advice on how a coroner or medical examiner has handled a case. This might also involve the family’s request for a second post mortem exam. We handled a case involving a family who were dealing with the consequences of poor identification techniques of a body following a severe fire in a foreign country. When the insurers declined to pay pending proper identification, the estate requested exhumation from the Canadian burial site, and another examination with readily provided proper scientific identification. A substantial benefit was then paid.

What about legal aid, crown counsel, district attorney or public defender requests for assistance in criminal trial cases?

We have provided expert opinion evidence to the prosecution and defence sides, including through legal aid. However, the tariff of fees of that authority (i.e. legal aid) is frequently less than our tariff. Our written estimate of the time involved and fee can be provided quickly to counsel or legal aid for consideration; thereafter an agreement on the fee is often negotiated. Please note that no work can be undertaken without a written agreement.

Are you able to provide medical specialists and other experts?

Yes, however these requests take time. Experience has taught us that experts with proper experience in their field, with court practice related to that and with a current academic (teaching) background are not always readily available. We only use experts of this calibre. We do not charge our full rate when seeking out experts.


What are your fees and payment arrangements?

Please refer to the fee schedule page for more information on this topic.

What is pathology?

Pathology is the detailed study of disease and injury. Although it has become a major part of legal investigations into cases of sudden death or injury (forensic pathology), it is also a major part of the treatment of patients in the form of a variety of lab tests which help identify the correct diagnosis. For more information on pathology, please visit our pathology page.

Does forensic pathology mean doing autopsies and examining dead bodies?

No, forensic means it has to do with legal proceedings, such as providing opinion evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding.

How is a medical examiner different than a coroner?

A medical examiner is a doctor with full medical training. A coroner is an administrator and does not necessarily have any medical training.

What does “Pathfinder Forum” mean?

It is a play on three words: pathology, find and forum (Latin for court). This is the substance of our work: pathology and finding information for the court.


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