No More Autopsies for Steven Hayne | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

No More Autopsies for Steven Hayne

Radley Balko at Reason Magazine and WLBT are reporting that Mississippi's long-time de facto medical examiner, Steven Hayne, will no longer be doing autopsies in the state. Balko writes:

My sources in Mississippi tell me that tomorrow afternoon the new commissioner of the state's Department of Public Safety will announce that embattled medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne will be removed from the state's list of approved medical examiners. Which means he'll no longer be performing autopsies in Mississippi. There may be other sanctions in the works, too."

Balko's investigative work on Hayne (follow-ups here) raised many questions about Hayne's work, as did cases where prisoners were exonerated, even though Hayne's findings helped build the case against them.

Previous Comments

ID
132826
Comment

Does this mean the state is going to look again at every case Hayne has touched? What an argument for declaring a moratorium on the death penalty. Here's WLBT's story: WLBT has learned Dr. Steven Hayne will no longer be doing medical examinations for the state of Mississippi. Hayne has conducted 80% of all criminal autopsies in Mississippi for more than 20 years. We're told Dr. Hayne performed his last autopsy early Monday morning and received notice of his termination via fax at his Brandon office at noon. Hayne has come under fire from the Innocence Project, which investigates cases of people wrongfully convicted of crimes. WLBT should have credited Reason for Radley's work on this story. The state's media barely touched him for many years. We were tipped several years back to investigate him, but didn't get around to it. A big ole hat tip to Radley and Reason for doing what state media could have, and should have, done a long time ago.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-04T20:36:17-06:00
ID
132828
Comment

If Hayne has conducted 80% of all criminal autopsies in Mississippi for more than 20 years, then 80% of all criminal autopsies in Mississippi have been compromised for more than 20 years. I would say that this definitely calls for a moratorium on the death penalty and a new trial for every single conviction in which a Hayne autopsy played a significant role. Expensive, probably excruciating for many victims' families, but necessary if the concept of a fair trial is to mean anything in Mississippi.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2008-08-05T01:45:22-06:00
ID
132829
Comment

So long doc. He's yet to appear in many cases pending which he was the pathologist. These fellows too often get corrupted by the push to make tons of money while no one is watching their work or verifying their findings or results. Make no mistake about it, other pathologists tired of him killing the profession by sloopy work and sending possibly innocent people to jail helped bring him down too.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-08-05T07:44:26-06:00
ID
132830
Comment

I should add however that the saddest thing of all is that prosecutors likely knew for years before the defense bar found out that Haynes did questionable work and made doubtful findings.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-08-05T07:49:55-06:00
ID
132831
Comment

Any word on whether Dr. Michael West will be terminated? West is the Hattiesburg dentist Hayne called in to consult on many of his cases. His "expert" testimony was also questioned in several of the cases the Innocence Project has investigated in Mississippi.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2008-08-05T08:29:45-06:00
ID
132832
Comment

I finally met Dr. West a couple of years ago after reading his testimony in Brewer and elsewhere. I was stunned at his appearance of sloppiness, run over shoes and look of dirtiness and dishevelment in his dress or attire although he was then showing up as a witness for trial. He even had on sandals. I expected so much more but instantly knew he was also sloppy and careless in other matters as well. He was of no consequence at that trial. West never had any credibility in the real science world. Prosecutors liked him but his field of specialty would never hold under under Daubert or the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus theory although under a different test less than all above judges allowed his testimoy to be used and send people to jail.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-08-05T08:41:20-06:00
ID
132837
Comment

The Clarion-Ledger reports this today (late, as usual) -- and does not give credit to Reason magazine and Radley Balko on it for the in-depth work he did. They put Jerry Mitchell on the story -- but where was he and the Ledger all these many years? We hear inside there that they pull Mitchell out to report on "big" (meaning national interest) stories so that his name shows up on them, even if he does, has done, very little on the stories. That's fine, but the least he could do is give credit where it's due. Meantime, the Ledger gives credit to Bloomberg in their editorial today about Barbour's blind-trust boondoggle. So we know they know how to.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T09:30:48-06:00
ID
132838
Comment

So we have to go back through all this again? (and could someone get rid of the italics?)

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-08-05T09:33:56-06:00
ID
132839
Comment

Well, we need to go through every case Hayne ever touched, after declaring a moratorium on the death penalty until all this can be aired out and investigated (not to mention why certain "trustys" are going free and not others). And we need to get to the bottom of Barbour's "blind trust" game, although that's a different topic. As for the italics, not sure why, but I'll see if I can figure it out.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T09:38:13-06:00
ID
132844
Comment

Which would bring me to point two: How do you pay for all this?

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-08-05T09:50:58-06:00
ID
132845
Comment

All of what? Meantime, isn't it weird to see that Dale Danks is Hayne's attorney?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T10:14:19-06:00
ID
132846
Comment

I'm not stunned. He has experience in defending corrupt quasi-governmental figures, at least. All of this: How are we exactly going to go about reopening and re-investigating and redoing all that data? Who's going to get stuck with the bill, the taxpayers again?

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-08-05T10:29:00-06:00
ID
132847
Comment

Obviously, the taxpayers are going to have to pay for mistakes by corrupt and inept politicians who allow this kind of inequity? Who else would? That's why you should watchdog up front -- but people are so blinded by politics that they refuse to believe this kind of stuff until the chickens come home to roost. It'll probably happen in the form of legal appeals by any prisoner ever touched by Hayne, so it won't be up to us to decide. The state would actually save money by stopping the death penalty while all this shakes out. That would help offset the other legal proceedings, I would guess. And at this point, it would be truly immoral to execute anyone that Hayne had anything to do with. Mississippi is going to have to take a hard look at our criminal-justice system: it is corrupt, clearly with many attorneys, judges and prisoners on the take, and trying to help each other or keep someone from ratting them out. Clearly, not everyone is dirty, but it's hard to know what or who to trust. It's crumbling, and it needs to. Sure, it'll cost money to fix it and rebuild, but that's the cost of letting corruption take it over all these years when we didn't have to. It's also the cost of having media that won't do real investigative reporting about the here and now.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T10:37:12-06:00
ID
132848
Comment

Again, I'd argue that Mississippians can't get over the hurdles to government. When we have to struggle so much to basically survive, who has time to actually care about government? It's not that your average citizen of Mississippi has time to make sure, they're busy surviving. Otherwise, we'd have to find a way to sell judicial reform without politics. 'Cause you know either side would love to have the deck stacked in their favor. If you want real justice, it has to be neutral.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-08-05T10:45:47-06:00
ID
132849
Comment

We're not really talking about government here. We're talking about human morality. It is immoral to put innocent people in prison, or to execute them. Screw politics. People need to stay paying attention to the truth and not be so damn gullible. You Iron, for instance, often come on here toeing a GOP line in response to something that isn't political, but plain factual. You are quick to accuse criticism of a Republican on politics. In other words, you often see politics first, as so many people do. To your credit, though, you also will criticize Republicans. The real problem are those who make every decisions based on party, or who they perceive their political enemies to be (such as watchdog media, like us, who dare to criticize their favorite party and candidates, even if they are dirty to the bone). It is naive and wrong to assume that criticism of a politician of a particular party is partisan -- if it is based on good information. That is how demagoguery and corruption take hold. Right here in Jackson, since the JFP started, we have been put through the ringer by a small group of partisans (actually two small groups, Dems and Repubs, although the Repubs have been more dishonest and meaner about it) because we dared criticize their candidates, such as George Bush, Haley Barbour, Frank Melton, David Blount, among others. But we were *right* about them, as is being shown, including Blount's cheap immigration rhetoric, which we pray he will leave on mothballs going forward. But the first three: pretty much disasters, as even Barbour is proving now. And the fact that we put cold, hard facts out there about them made us the target—classic attacking-the-messenger—rather than looking at what we reveal, without deference to party. So if you want to see a change, it should start with yourself and the willingness to get past partisan thinking. Same with all of us.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T10:57:27-06:00
ID
132850
Comment

Eh... I think you missed the point of my attempt at debate here. I just don't believe either party can honestly reform the judicial system here in Mississippi. It would be better if we did it, rather than have the government continue to oversee our judiciary. If reform is to happen, the people will have to do it rather than believe in their government.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-08-05T11:03:12-06:00
ID
132852
Comment

Who said anything about a party doing it? Obviously, "the people" have to do it, but obviously government has to be involved. If we stop electing corrupt officials who appeal to our worst instincts to lead the damn government, it wouldn't be such a bad thing. Thus, blaming "the government" is a red herring; it's "the people" who put them there. "The people" need to learn to reject the politics of personal greed, fear and racism, and start paying attention to what the agendas of these guys really are. Right now, we have a lobbyist and political operative as governor. He has no interest in fixing the criminal-justice system, and will likely block every attempt. And so on. Thus, the work "the people" have to do is clear. We have to educate ourselves and each other about real facts, and then remake our government. It's not about party, and only is when people allow themselves to be blinded and divided by partisanship. When the first thing out of someone's mouth is, "oh, you're picking on him because he's a _________ (fill in party)," you know you're in trouble. The first question should be, "what is your proof?" "What are the facts?" "Tell me more." That's the way we sort through the garbage; not be rejecting it because someone dares criticize our precious political party. What malarkey.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T11:17:47-06:00
ID
132856
Comment

The latest state Medical Association editorial had a piece on Haynes and I think it is safe to say the majority of docs in the state would like a reputable state medical examiners office. Its the right thing to do and geez we all watch CSI and its nuts that we don't have anything approaching that here.

Author
GLewis
Date
2008-08-05T12:01:49-06:00

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