Dr. Hayne’s Credentials

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Remember that Jackson TV news report, where Dr. Hayne said he couldn’t remember the name of the board that certified him in forensic pathology? I think there’s a reason for that.

First, here’s some background from my reason piece:

Though Hayne routinely testifies under oath that he is “board certified” in “forensic pathology,” he isn’t, at least as the phrase is understood by most of his peers. Instead, Hayne says he’s certified by other organizations that are considerably less reputable.


One of the groups Hayne lists on his C.V., the American Academy of Forensic Examiners, doesn’t seem to exist. Some forensic experts interviewed for this article say it is an alternate name for the American College of Forensic Examiners, which has been criticized by legal experts as a mail-order outfit where the only necessary qualification is a check. Consistent with that reputation, Hayne has testified that the American Academy of Forensic Examiners “grandfathered” him into certification without an exam.

In the past Hayne has listed another certifying group, the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons. It no longer offers specialty certifications in forensic pathology. The forensic experts I interviewed for this article had never even heard of it. The doctor the group sent to proctor Hayne’s exam for the organization has since been indicted on felony charges and no longer practices medicine.

There’s actually a third organization that Hayne has claimed under oath to be certified by. The following excerpt is from the transcript of his testimony in the March 2001 case, State of Mississippi v. Bobby Joe Townsend. Defense attorney Robert McDuff is asking the questions:

Q. Now, under the present law–under the present statute you are not qualified to be state medical examiner, are you?

A. No. I’m not board certified by the law [sic] that they want. They want the Board of American Pathology, and I have the Board of American Forensic Pathology.

Q. The American Board of Pathology, right?

A. Right.

Q. That is what the state law requires, for someone to be board certified by the American Board of Pathology before they can be considered and hired as state medical examiner, correct?

A. That’s correct.

Hayne goes on to say that he took the American Board exams, but walked out in the middle of them because he found the questions “absurd.” Of course, thousands of forensic pathologists have taken those tests before and after Hayne, and managed not to be offended by them.

I mentioned this in the article, but the astonishing point to be made here is that even though Dr. Hayne isn’t qualified by state law to be Mississippi’s state medical examiner, he has basically become the de facto state medical examiner anyway. He does the vast majority of the state’s autopsies, by virtue of his cozy relationship with the state’s DAs and coroners, and because the legislature hasn’t appropriated funds for a real, board-certified state medical examiner in 12 years.

But I bring up this testimony in the Townsend case because as you might have noticed, Hayne here claims to be certified by yet another mysterious certifying organization. He calls this one the “Board of American Forensic Pathology,” which sounds an awful lot like the accreditation he should have, which is a certification in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology.

The thing is, like the American Academy of Forensic Examiners, the “Board of American Forensic Pathology” doesn’t seem to exist. Now perhaps this group does exist, and just don’t have a website. That would be odd, but not impossible, I guess. But none of the forensic pathologists I’ve spoken with have never heard of the organization, either.

In my reporting, I found three versions of Hayne’s curriculum vitae (Hayne has revised his CV over the years after being questioned for listing publications that, if you look him up, don’t actually list him as the author). None of the three copies of Hayne’s CV that I have lists a group called the “Board of American Forensic Pathology.”

It would be interesting if someone where to ask Hayne exactly what group he was referring to while testifying under oath in the Townsend case. If he really meant the “Board of American Pathology,” where is this organization headquartered, and what are their qualifications for certification?

If he misspoke, to what group was he referring?

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