Mississippi CYA

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

As I explained last night, yesterday’s news conference in which Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Simpson (sort of) announced that the state would no longer be using the services of embattled medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne was an important first step, but it was offset by Commissioner Simpson’s effusive praise for Hayne, and his assertion that his agency has no complaints about Hayne, and that it had no intent to investigate any of the cases in which Hayne has testified.  He even invited Hayne to apply for the state medical examiner’s position (Hayne can’t, of course, because he isn’t board certified).

According to this AP account of the event, Simpson’s praise pleased Dr. Hayne’s attorney, Dale Danks, Jr.  Danks is a former mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, and the former attorney for current Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, who is now facing a federal indictment (Melton was also recently profiled here at reason as the "wost mayor in America").  Here’s Danks:

Hayne’s attorney, Dale Danks, said his client wouldn’t seek a legal response to the contract termination.

"Dr. Hayne has dedicated many, many years of his life to ensure that autopsies that were required by the state of Mississippi were done," Danks said. "The commissioner made it very clear that Dr. Hayne had done an excellent job."

This is odd, because the day before the press conference, Danks was threatening litigation.  From Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger: 

The Department of Public Safety faxed a letter to Hayne on Monday informing him of his removal from the list of pathologists.

Hayne would not comment, but his attorney, former Jackson Mayor Dale Danks Jr., said Monday that the letter gave no reason for his removal. "I think it’s totally unjustified and unfair, and this matter will probably wind up in litigation," he said.

Seems pretty clear what happened, here.  Danks threatened litigation, so Simpson went out of his way to placate Hayne.  I’m told that after the presser, Danks walked up to Simpson, shook his hand, and told him he did a great job.

If it’s money state officials in Mississippi are worried about (instead of, you know, justice), I’d be more worried about the far more expensive series of lawsuits likely to come from the people wrongfully convicted by Hayne’s testimony than by an employment lawsuit from an incompetent doctor for whom there was more than enough cause to terminate.  

Meanwhile, Mississippi’s old guard is circling the wagons around Hayne.  Here’s Attorney General Jim Hood, a former district attorney who has used Hayne as a witness:

Attorney General Jim Hood said he’s concerned about Hayne’s impending departure because it could impact cases that the pathologist has been involved with.

"If defense lawyers are able to ask the question, ‘Have you been fired?’ on the witness stand, it’s going to hurt in all those cases," Hood said…

That’s sort of the point, Mr. Attorney General.  It ought to hurt those cases.

Then there’s this, which seems to be the fallback talking point among Hayne’s defenders:

Dr. Samuel Richard of Canton, an emergency physician, said Hayne has been "caught up in a whirlwind outside of the mainstream, originating in extremist ideology. The net result is to leave the state of Mississippi with no pathologist who will do the work."

There are no forensic pathologists to "do the work" in Mississippi because for the last 15 years, Hayne and his cronies in the DA and coroners’ offices have chased all of the legitimate doctors away. 

I’ll address just how "outside the mainstream" and "extremist" Hayne’s critics really are in an upcoming post.


Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

11 Responses to “Mississippi CYA”

  1. #1 |  Josh | 

    Nice to know things like due process and competence are extremist concepts that don’t reside within the mainstream of Mississippi’s legal and medical community, if Dr. Richard truly represents the “mainstream.”

  2. #2 |  jazz | 

    If this Mississippi’s interpretation of due process includes allowing provably false testimony from an “expert” known to have (at best) negligently performed his duties, granting that testimony the weight of a nearly unimpeachable pronunciation of fact, and refusing to entertain the very real possibility that innocent people likely were wrongfully convicted based on the “expert’s” ill-informed testimony, the State’s criminal justices system is nothing more than a lynching dressed in the robes of blind justice.

  3. #3 |  Cari Barichello | 

    I can’t tell you how elated I am to hear that Dr. Steven Hayne of Mississippi is finally banned from practice. I have been following his career religiously through the Clarion Ledger, Innocence Project and Radley Balko and am relieved that Mississippi is finally taking steps to remove this man.

    I have been a Child Advocate for years and attended the Tyler Edmonds trial. I am sure I don’t have to remind you of the incredibly damaging testimony that man spouted out that sent a child to a life of imprisonment. I remember the moment exactly when Hayne testified that the gun shot wound he examined on the victims head was consistent with two fingers pulling the trigger of the same gun at the same time.

    I remember my mouth dropping and looking around the court room to see the reaction of others to this ludicrous assumption. Knowing that the gun was never found and no clothes, shoes or skin was ever tested for gun shot residue, I was literally flabbergasted that the Judge allowed this testimony in and that the jury believed it!

    Thanks to that absurd assumptiom made by Hayne that the Judge and Prosecution sucked up, after 4 long years in prison, Tyler was released by the Mississippi State Supreme Court and will face his new trial in October. I hope the removal of Hayne now as the State Pathologist will have some positive impact on Tyler’s case. That boy has been put through enough. I also hope that the State considers charging Hayne for the lies he has spewed for blood money and that those innocent prisoners consider civil suit against a man who almost ruined their lives.

    Lastly, I take it that Dr. Richard meant that those of us that aren’t “considered” part of the main stream …perhaps he meant groupie, gang, cronies… just aren’t competent enough judge the great Dr. Hayne. Yes, idealy those of us from the outside have everything to lose to this man and nothing to gain freedom-wise nor money-wise. Truley in my eyes, the ideology here is: IS STEVEN HAYNE REALLY, LEGALLY A DOCTOR?

    Thanks for finally getting Mississippi some justice!

  4. #4 |  MikeT | 

    The word “extremist” is so badly abused today, especially by the left, that it is almost always a good clue that the person using it is trying to cover up or engage in politics. It’s just one of those words you use to try to shut someone down when they’re saying and doing things you don’t like.

  5. #5 |  Kevin | 

    “I’d be more worried about the far more expensive series of lawsuits likely to come from the people wrongfully convicted by Hayne’s testimony”

    True. But if Simpson came out and said Hayne was a hack, and was being removed for incompetence, wouldn’t those lawsuits have more merit? Sounds to me like he was interested in mitigating the effect of all lawsuits, not just one by Hayne. Also, a Hayne lawsuit would put the State into the position of proving they let him go with cause, that is, they would have to prove he was incompetent, thus lending even more credit to wrongful conviction suits.

    What Simson is quoted as saying is: “Dr. Hayne has clearly carried the water,” Simpson said. “He’s conducted numerous investigations under difficult circumstances.”

    That’s not really the high praise I was expecting. In fact, is says nothing of whether he actually did a good job, it just says he worked a lot, and it was hard. It is interesting he was not willing to pile on the BS even further.

    It’s funny, even Hayne’s lawyers sounds like he is hedging his bets: “Dr. Hayne has dedicated many, many years of his life to ensure that autopsies that were required by the state of Mississippi were done”

    That’s like saying, at an employee’s retirement luncheon: “Jack spent many years of his life ensuring he showed up to work and did stuff.”

    Regarding Richard’s extreme ideology comment, I wonder what he’s referring to. Is it the belief that innocent people should not go to jail? How about the desire for competence and transparency in the justice system? Yeah, those are extreme, alright.

  6. #6 |  pam | 

    Fist bump to you Cari. I hope Tyler can finally get out from under this atrocious miscarriage of justice.He denied it for 3 hours until they took his Mom out of the room and brought in his half sister, the real murderer to confront Tyler. He recanted in short order. Not only should Hayne be fired, he should be prosecuted. I’m running right along side you with another case where a barely 15 year old boy gave an illegal coerced confession with no parent, lawyer or friendly face present ever, at all, for weeks. Dr. Hayne was the only expert to testify to what the prosecution told him happened, not what really happened and he had no proven scientific evidence to back it up just his smarmy, slimely credendials, accepted without question by the judge, prosecutors, defense lawyers and jury. The boy had not one witness called on his behalf. Let’s celebrate girlfriend! One more thing, I think if I were a juror involved in any of Haynes cases, I’d be furious, especially if I sent a child to prison for life, or a man to his death.

  7. #7 |  Graham | 

    Rock on, Radley. There’s obviously more to be done, but this important step could never have happened without you.

  8. #8 |  Judi | 

    Simpson ‘dodged’ the bullet…because HE didn’t want Hayne to do HIS autospy.

    Radley, I hope we can stock up on CONDOM CAPS to pass out in Mississippi because their sure are alot of DICKHEADS down there that obviously NEED them!

    Simpson and the others sond like a bunch of cowards by NOT admitting to the fact that Hayne was incompetent and unqualified. Just like you said Radley, and I have been saying all along…this will open up a flood of wrongful conviction lawsuits and poor old Miss doesn’t want to ante up. Too bad.

    His supporters have ‘commented’ on the Clarion Ledger and other websites. It’s almost like they wringing their hands and say, ‘Woe is me…what will we DO now?” Like the world is coming to an END!

    My question to them is aren’t there ENOUGH bodies STACKED UP as it is and wrongful convictions? What? You want to WAIT another 20 years so that his PILE can get a few miles higher?

    The state KNEW about this for a VERY LONG TIME. They should have ‘nipped it in the bud’ instead of letting this decay spread like a plague. They wouldn’t be facing the dilelmma they are in today NOR would there be INNOCENT people in prison to SUE THEM!

    Well DUH…

    Pass those ‘caps’ out Radley before any more of their BRAINS spill out of their warped HEADS! PLEASE!

  9. #9 |  Judi | 

    P.S. Yeah the ‘world is going to end’ because of Hayne’s termination just like it ended at Y2K! LOL

    Gimme a break!

  10. #10 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Old File Shows Problems With Hayne Date Back to Early 1990s | 

    […] of the file’s documents are from the early- to mid-1990s, and they further put the lie to the line now coming from state officials in Mississippi—that for 20 years, Mississippi has been overwhelmed with […]

  11. #11 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Correction to My Previous Post on Dr. Hayne | 

    […] of the file’s documents are from the early- to mid-1990s, and they further put the lie to the line now coming from state officials in Mississippi—that for 20 years, Mississippi has been overwhelmed with […]