Coroners want Hayne back - - Jackson, MS

Coroners want Hayne back

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by Howard Ballou - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - He was unceremoniously kicked off the list of medical examiners approved to conduct autopsies in Mississippi a year ago.

Now, Doctor Steven Hayne, accused of shoddy work and lacking proper credentials, is poised to make a comeback following an opinion by the state attorney general.

When Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Simpson announced Dr. Steven Hayne's services would no longer be needed by the state in August 2008, not everyone thought it was good news.

Now, this opinion by state Attorney General Jim Hood, requested by Yazoo County Coroner Rickey Shivers, opens the door for Dr. Hayne to get back in the business of performing autopsies on a statewide basis.

Attorney Dale Danks represents Dr. Hayne. "The A-G's opinion simply says if two or more adjacent counties enter into an agreement among themselves, that they can create what is known as, called regional medical examiner's districts. And the A-G's opinion also says that once that district is created, two or more adjacent counties, they can retain the services of any qualified pathologist to perform autopsies in those respective districts."

 If everything goes as planned, Dr. Hayne will be doing autopsies at American Mortuary Services on Terry Road in Jackson and not in the state crime lab. Owner John Davis said, "We're gone be jumping and jivin' here in a little bit!"

Davis says he's looking forward Dr. Hayne's increased case load.  Said Davis, "He's been doing private autopsies here since him leaving the state crime lab."

Hayne, who conducted 80-percent of all criminal autopsies in Mississippi for nearly two decades, lost his state job amid complaints by The Innocence Project. The advocacy group claimed he provided bogus and misleading autopsy reports resulting in wrongful convictions of two men on felony charges. Those men were released from prison in 2008.

Hinds County Assistant Public Defender, Matt Eichelberger, has challenged Dr. Hayne's testimony in the past and finds the new development troubling. "He was removed from that list. Steve Simpson didn't really go into any detail as to why that was so, but there certainly had to be a reason for that to happen. So, I believe this to be somewhat of an end run.", said Eichelberger.

Mississippi has not had a state medical examiner since 1995. Autopsies for the state are now performed by a medical examination business from Nashville, Tennessee.  

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