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Much-delayed Ashley Smith inquest resumes, then adjourns for another week

The often-delayed inquest into the prison death of troubled New Brunswick teen Ashley Smith was delayed for another week Monday, frustrating some of those involved.

The proceeding resumed under new coroner John Carlisle but was quickly adjourned until next Monday, when a motion will be heard challenging Dr. Carlisle's jurisdiction.

It marked yet another delay into finding out why Ms. Smith, 19, of Moncton was able to choke herself to death with a strip of cloth at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont., nearly four years ago.

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The motion from the Smith family's lawyer will question whether Dr. Carlisle should be allowed to continue the proceedings, which began in May under the previous coroner, Bonita Porter.

But John McNair, representing St. Joseph's Hospital in London, one of 13 parties with standing at the hearing, called it a "needless adjournment" for a challenge that "serves no one's interest."

It's essentially a recycled version of a motion previously put to and rejected by Ontario's chief coroner, Andrew McCallum, Mr. McNair said outside court. "My client, like the other parties, is extremely frustrated about the delays and the expense that's attendant upon those delays in this inquest," he said.

Noting the inquest was supposed to have started in November, 2010 and heard only three days of evidence in front of Dr. Porter before it was adjourned May 16, Mr. McNair said it was time to get on with the hearing.

Dr. Carlisle still needs to deal with lingering issues that Dr. Porter didn't rule on, added Mr. McNair.

Before she was replaced, Dr. Porter had promised to rule on three issues she had under reserve, including the Correctional Service of Canada's request for prison guards' faces to be blurred in videos.

Another issue was whether the inquest should include videos from a Quebec prison that Ms. Smith's family says show her being restrained and forcibly injected with medication.

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Ms. Smith had been in and out of custody since 2003, much of that time spent in segregation.

The inquest is examining the last 11 months of her life, when she was transferred between facilities 17 times.

She was first arrested at 13 for assault and causing a disturbance. Her other run-ins with the law were nuisance offences such as making harassing phone calls, pulling a fire alarm and throwing apples at a postal worker.

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