More on Dr. Hayne

Monday, October 29th, 2007

There’s quite a bit going on in Mississippi right now. A quick and dirty summary:

  • Last week, I spoke someone who was once one of Hayne’s autopsy assistants. This person not only confirmed everything I’ve reported about Dr. Hayne, he says it’s actually quite a bit worse.
  • I’ve also spoken with an investigator who worked for more than 10 years in the office of a district attorney for whom Hayne did hundreds of autopsies. He too confirmed what I’ve written about Hayne, and like many others believes Hayne has put many, many innocent people in prison. He is retired as an investigator for prosecutors, and is currently assisting the defense counsel in a homicide case where Hayne performed an autopsy and came up with some questionable conclusions.
  • I recently exchanged email with an attorney who hired Hayne in a civil case. Hayne gave him conclusions that he felt couldn’t possibly be supported by the evidence. This attorney was so disturbed, he felt compelled to hire three additional experts. All of them said there’s no way Hayne could have drawn the conclusions he did. Keep in mind, this guy hired Hayne. And even though Hayne offered testimony that benefited his client, he was so disturbed, he not only hired three other experts to verify, he then felt compelled to contact me when his all of them determined that Hayne was out of line.

    I’ve also received lots of email from other people who have worked with Hayne in the past, and have expressed their gratitude that someone finally exposed him.

    Here’s the problem: These people are still reluctant to come forward publicly. They aren’t ready to speak on the record, because they’re afraid that Hayne still has enough power in Mississippi to damage or ruin their careers.

    This is why the state of Mississippi needs to conduct a wide-ranging, thorough, formal investigation into Hayne. That sort of investigation would give these people the cover they need to come forward without fear of repercussions. These aren’t all criminal defense lawyers, or attorneys who defend in malpractice or negligence cases (where Hayne often testifies for plaintiffs’ attorneys). These are Dr. Hayne’s peers and colleagues. They’re people who have worked for prosecutors. They’re people who investigate for local police departments, or they’re police officials themselves. They have no obvious ax to grind.

    On another front, I plan to speak with representatives from the National Association of Medical Examiners soon. As I understand it, no direct action was taken against Hayne at their annual conference last week, but there were a couple of resolutions passed that will certainly affect him, and that were probably passed with him in mind. Dr. Joseph Prahlow, the immediate past president of NAME, left me a voicemail last week. He said Hayne’s been all the buzz on NAME’s listserve over the last month, and that NAME members, executives, and committee chairmen voiced concerns about him privately at last week’s conference. Unfortunately, Dr. Prahlow said, the itinerary last week was too full, and my article about Hayne came out too late, for them to address it at the conference. He did, however, say that NAME will be looking into what to do about Dr. Hayne over the coming months.

    One member, who asked to remain anonymous, told me NAME is considering revoking Dr. Hayne’s membership. That would certainly be a start. Mississippi’s courts have let Hayne slide for 20 years. While I hope my reporting spurs them to take a harder look at him, it’s easy to see how they could argue that the professional organizations to which Dr. Hayne belongs are in a better position to evaluate his professionalism and practices than a judge. And if a group like NAME will still have Hayne as a member in the face of these allegations, why should Mississippi’s courts bar him from testifying? So an admonishment or eviction from NAME I think would go a long way. I plan to call the group’s new president this week.

    Finally, there’s lots of movement on the legal front, too. Over the last month, I’ve talked to quite a few lawyers with both civil and criminal cases pending in Mississippi. Over the next few months, we’re going to see a flurry of motions filed all over the state seeking hearings to evaluate Dr. Hayne’s standing as an expert witness. One of the first will be filed this week with the Mississippi Supreme Court by an attorney named Edwin L. Pittman. Mr. Pittman is a former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, and a former Mississippi state attorney general.

    I’m told that Dr. Hayne’s standing as an expert witness is also likely to be challenged next month in federal court.

    Cory Maye’s lawyers have also filed a brief challenging Dr. Hayne’s credentials, as well as some of the statements he made on the stand at Maye’s trial about his practices. That hearing will be Friday.

    More on that later.

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