Friday, April 11, 2008

Part 4 Innocence in Mississippi

Dr. Steven Hayne, who performs 80% of the autopsies in the state of Mississippi and who performed the autopsies on the victims in both the Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks cases, is being exposed as a fraud by the Innocence Project. Innocence Project attorneys in Mississippi are officially calling for Hayne's license to be revoked. Hayne's misdeeds include lying under oath about his position within the medical examiners office, performing too many autopsies in a year, and making false statements concerning the conclusions of his autopsies. Given the importance of his job and the long term effect his testimony can have, Dr. Hayne's is amazingly cavalier about his indiscretions. In response to the Innocence Project asserting that while he has performed around 1500 autopsies each year, the maximum limit of the National Association of Medical Examiners is 250, Hayne told the press

Hayne said such a number is arbitrary. “There’s one group that says you shouldn’t do more than 350, and there are other groups that don’t have a limit,” he said. “Should I call the Innocence Project to see if I’ve done too many and stop?”

He estimates he works 110 hours a week. “Some people were put on this earth to party, and some people were put on this earth to work,” he said. “I’ve always worked very hard.”

Dr. Hayne fails to ever cite any group with 350 as its limit or with no limits at all. The question of quantity is central to this case given the fact that the autopsies he has performed when evaluated by independent experts is shown to be astonishingly poor. There is also a demonstrated pattern of arriving to scientifically improbably solutions in order to support the prosecutions theory of the crime. It's not surprising then that Mississippi prosecutor Forrest Allgood had this to say,
"My experience with Hayne is that 99 times out of 100 he testifies this guy died and this is how he died," Allgood said. "How is that in any way convicting innocent people?"

As the prosecutor in both the Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer cases, Allgood really should know the answer to this question. The jury convicted both men largely based on the faulty testimony of Dr. Hayne and another pathologist. These cases have thankfully held this obviously corrupt criminal justice system under the national microscope, and the fact that both Dr. Hayne and Mr. Allgood seem to have no remorse about the wrong that was done to these two men (and now it seems probably many more people as faulty autopsies done by Hayne are being discovered as a I type this for trials that have recently concluded or have not yet begun) is very unsettling. Our criminal justice system is not perfect and never can be and mistakes will happen, but when covering up those mistakes becomes more important than the rights of innocent people then maybe Mr. Allgood needs think about stepping down as well.

No comments: