The Clarion-Ledger on Hayne’s Removal

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Here’s their article.

Author Jerry Mitchell goes back to Dr. Michael Baden for a defense of Hayne. I don’t know why Baden keeps defending Hayne, but he’s just about the only medical examiner in the country who does. I’m also not sure Baden is aware of the scope of Hayne’s transgressions. When I spoke to Baden, he seemed to have a beef with the the professional organizations and their standards, which he found arbitrary. And he seemed to be reflexively defensive of Hayne because he didn’t like the idea of groups likes the National Association of Medical Examiners telling doctors how many autopsies they’re allowed to do. I do believe Baden and Hayne worked together on a couple of cases. I’d also imagine that Hayne was on his best behavior while working with the celebrity medical examiner.

Of course you can oppose a hard cutoff on the number of permitted autopsies per year and still recognize that 1500-1800 autopsies per year by one man is insanity. Baden’s quote this morning implies that Hayne was reluctantly doing all of those autopsies as a favor to the overburdened coroners and district attorneys, and that he therefore shouldn’t be punished for his generosity. That’s not what happened. Hayne actively sought out all of that business. He and Dr. Michael West scared off competitors, and put up determined resistance against efforts to impose standards on how criminal autopsies are meted out and performed in Mississippi. In fact, Hayne actually added to his caseload in 2005 by seeking yet more business in Louisiana after that state’s version of Dr. Hayne–Dr. George McCormick–passed away.

Unfortunately, Dr. Baden is fairly famous. So when his name appears in articles like these, it implies that there’s some sort of split or balance in Hayne’s colleagues’ opinion of him. There isn’t. There’s Baden, and there’s just about everyone else.

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14 Responses to “The Clarion-Ledger on Hayne’s Removal”

  1. #1 |  MikeT | 

    Hayne has insisted Bennett is wrong, saying he would stake his entire reputation and career on it. He has said he is the victim of a witch hunt by the Innocence Project and other death penalty opponents.

    You don’t have to be an opponent of the death penalty to despise everything he has done and stood for in his career. In fact, with the number of people he has condemned to suffer grave injustice through his greed and incompetence, the only legitimate punishment for his false testimony is death.

    In a just society, Hayne would now be facing the death penalty for his actions. His negligence, on matters of such grave importance to his fellow man, is such a deeply immoral pattern that a just society would never show him an ounce of mercy or compassion for the lives he’s ruined.

  2. #2 |  MikeT | 

    The next time that Mississippi or Alabama wants to put up a statue of the 10 commandments, someone needs to post this statute from the Mosaic Law to remind them of how God deals with lying witnesses, be they cops, informants, medical examiners, etc.:

    “16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, 17 the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, 19 then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you.”

  3. #3 |  Jay | 

    He works 20 hours a day doing autopsies? I’ve worked at a cadaver lab. For one, he doesn’t do the cutting and dismembering and what not. They have dieners paid minimum wage to a max of eight bucks an hour for that. But then if he has to examine remains for 20 hours a day “to prove a case” as opposed to gathering the facts, which seems what this guy has done, well, that makes him a greedy bastard and a blight on the legal system too.

  4. #4 |  Danno49 | 

    “In a just society, Hayne would now be facing the death penalty for his actions. His negligence, on matters of such grave importance to his fellow man, is such a deeply immoral pattern that a just society would never show him an ounce of mercy or compassion for the lives he’s ruined.”

    But they’ll give him a golden parachute, no doubt, when he deserves what you say. As I said earlier, mother fucker must pay. I doubt he will but I will be quite pleased, as I am sure all of us will, if he is rightfully punished.

    Radley, I asked this in the last post but I don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle so I’ll ask again here . . . any early word on this being good news for getting Corey out of jail? Or will this not help at all?

  5. #5 |  Radley Balko | 

    Danno: It certainly can’t hurt. A lot depends on what grounds the state will give for dismissing him. My guess is that they’ll provide as narrow a reason as possible to prevent an onslaught of appeals.

    I hope I’m wrong, though.

  6. #6 |  Joe | 

    Do coroners have the same civil immunity that police officers have?

  7. #7 |  chsw | 

    Didn’t have a chance to post last night –

    Congratulations! You have caused the removal of an [allegedly] incompetent government employee who threatened the safety. In the future, men and women cleared of capital offenses by a more competent medical examiner may not remember Balko or Reason, but I am sure that the state of Mississippi’s AG office and the state’s coroners and medical examiners will. Well done!


  8. #8 |  Danno49 | 

    “I hope I’m wrong, though.”

    Me too, good sir. Me too.

    Thanks, Radley.

  9. #9 |  Tokin42 | 


    You’re not wrong. Sorry.

  10. #10 |  Frank | 

    Did you see all the state-paid shills on that website praising Hayne?

    I wonder if he’s going to sue? Supposedly his dismissal letter gave no reason.

  11. #11 |  David McCarty | 


    More than anybody, your extremely insightful research and hard work helped make this happen.

    I wrote you about ten months ago to celebrate your work. We were both pretty pessimistic, but your research helped make our justice system better.

    Thanks for that.


  12. #12 |  Judi | 

    Baden, Schmaden…regardless of his celebrity status, the record will and does speak for itself. Baden sure as hell cannot UN-RING this bell from hell…I could care less if he’s Donald Trump or Oprah.

    So Radley, what happens now? Will every case Hayne has had a hand in in the past 20 years be re-opened?

    I am going to Ms this fall and plan to put thumb screws on the state…to continue to dig into this proverbial can of worms…until they get down to the dirt and slime.

    I had the priviledge to speak to Devin Bennett on death row this morning and gave him the news. He shouted it out to the entire corridor! Needless to say there are a lot of tears of joy.

    But we have only just begun. The state MUST be made to review each and every case Hayne touched. I will not rest until this is
    done! This is a monumental victory however we cannot assume for a minute that it is over and that justice has been served.

    It ain’t over ’til the FAT LADY SINGS, and I haven’t even hummed a NOTE yet!

  13. #13 |  parse | 

    Even now, the local media obscures the facts behind Haynes dismissal. Critics have accused Hayne of sloppy work they say led to the imprisonment of the innocent. That gives the impression that Haynes wasn’t careful enough and people went to prison because of his mistakes. That would be bad enough–but the conclusion a reasonable person would draw from his career is that he created evidence used to convict innocent people of heinous crimes. Haynes seems a case of malevelence rather than incompetence.

  14. #14 |  Judi | 

    Parse, in the words of Barney Fife, “He’s a nut, that’s what he is, a nut!”