It’s been a while since we visited the Steven Hayne saga in Mississippi. There was some big news today.
If you’ll remember, when my story about Hayne broke and the Innocence Project went after him a short time later, Hayne was asked by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about why he was never board certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. Here was his response:
He said the American Board of Pathology hasn’t certified him because he walked out of the examination. He said he got angry at what he regarded as a stupid question – ranking in order what colors are associated with funerals instead of asking questions about forensic pathology.
“I’ve got a temper. I don’t put up with crap like that,” he said. “I walked out and took another examination from another board.”
After that article ran, the paper was contacted by the American Board of Pathology:
“As the executive director of the American Board of Pathology I was surprised by Dr. Hayne’s description of the ‘stupid question’ (related to colors associated with funerals) on his forensic pathology examination that caused him to walk out of the exam,” Dr. Betsy Bennett said by e-mail. “Dr. Hayne took the forensic pathology examination in 1989. I pulled the text of this examination from our files, and there was no question on that examination that was remotely similar to Dr. Hayne’s description.”
When confronted with this information, Hayne responded:
“She is flat wrong. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”
He said he would stake his reputation and career on that question appearing on the test, saying, “It’s like remembering where you were when men landed on the moon.”
The latest salvo comes in a post-conviction relief motion filed in Monroe County Circuit Court by attorneys for former Mississippi State University professor David Parvin, convicted last year in the 2007 shooting death of his wife.
Hayne now acknowledges a previous statement he made in connection with his credentials isn’t true, according to the documents filed by Parvin’s attorneys on appeal, James L. Robertson of Jackson, Jim Waide of Tupelo and Tucker Carrington, who heads the Mississippi Innocence Project.
Hayne had testified under oath in a 2004 trial and reiterated to The Clarion-Ledger in 2008 that he walked out of an 1989 exam for certification in forensic pathology because of a stupid question about ranking in order what colors are associated with funerals.
In a recent deposition by the Innocence Project, Hayne was confronted with the exam and admitted there was no such question about death, lawyers wrote.
At the time Hayne “walked out” of the exam, he was failing it, lawyers wrote.
That means he not only flat-out lied to the Clarion-Ledger in 2008, he has now admitted under oath that he lied in his testimony at a murder trial. And probably not just one.
Longtime defense lawyer Matthew Eichelberger recalled quizzing Hayne about the same matter.“That man looked me in the eye, looked all 12 jurors in the eye and looked Circuit Judge Betty Sanders in the eye,” he said. “And he swore that he walked out of the exam because it contained all of these absurd questions. Of course, we now definitively know that not to be true.”
In the case that brought all of this out, Hayne claimed under oath that he could tell by a shotgun wound how far away the muzzle of the gun was from the victim when it was fired. So we now have definitive evidence that Hayne has lied under oath about his qualifications. He has also repeatedly lied about them out of court. And the Mississippi Supreme Court itself has found that Hayne gave testimony in a murder case that was unsupported by science (preposterous is more like it). What do you think, will Mississippi finally show some sense of shame and admit that every case in which this guy was involved now needs to be reexamined? Think we’ll see him arrested and charged with perjury?
Nah. Me neither.
By the way, Jeffrey Havard was convicted of murdering his girlfriend’s little girl almost exclusively because of Hayne’s testimony. That testimony has since been called into question by qualified forensic pathologists. Havard was denied again by the Mississippi Supreme Court earlier this year. His post-conviction petition is now in federal court. If he loses there, he’ll likely get an execution date.