The lawyer’s client isn’t the most sympathetic defendant in the world (even by her own account, she apparently abandoned her kid in a public area, then went back to get him) but here’s yet more evidence of Dr. Hayne magically finding a prosecutor’s preferred cause of death where another medical professional couldn’t.
Note too this passage:
State pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne ruled that the child died of suffocation. Under state law, a petition can be filed with the state medical examiner, asking for further review of an autopsy conclusion.
But Tina Funderburk’s attorney, Hinds County Assistant Public Defender Matthew Eichelberger, said that since there is no state medical examiner, his request might be moot.
If you’ve been wondering why the Mississippi state legislature has refused to adequately fund a state medical examiner position all these years, the passage above provides a pretty plausible explanation, doesn’t it?
With no state medical examiner, there’s no one for defense attorneys to petition for a review of Hayne’s work. Meaning there’s no one to make sure he isn’t cutting corners or fudging his diagnoses. If you’re an indigent defendant and can’t hire your own expert to review him, you’re at the mercy of the court to provide funding for your own expert. Which in Mississippi generally means you’re pretty much out of luck.
If you’re wondering why Mississippi doesn’t just give Hayne the state position, they can’t because he isn’t qualified. State law requires the official medical examiner be board-certified. Hayne isn’t.
So though Mississippi law seems to call for some safeguards to ensure the quality of autopsies done in the state, the legislature, executive, and prosecutors have found a way around them. Don’t fund the office, and Hayne gets free reign.