By Jon Kalahar
An editorial in The Wall Street Journal accuses a former state medical examiner of making mistakes during his examinations -- mistakes that led to innocent people going to jail.
As a medical examiner, Dr. Steven Hayne testifies in court on a weekly basis to his findings from autopsies. His business, Pathology Consultation Incorporated, performs between 1,000 and 2,000 autopsies a year. But an opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend accuses Dr. Hayne of making mistakes in those autopsies because he performs too many.
Radley Balko, senior editor at Reason magazine, also claims Hayne's testimony about his findings often falls in line with what the prosecution is trying to prove.
Hayne's testimony in the trial of Tyler Edmonds claims from the body he examined two people held the gun that killed the victim. Edmonds was 13 when convicted. The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned that ruling earlier this year after throwing out Hayne's testimony.
Balko has followed Hayne's work since he started investigating the case against 21-year-old Cory Maye. Maye was accused of shooting Prentiss police officer Ron Jones as Jones entered Maye's home to execute a search warrant. Hayne testified in that trial also, and Maye was given the death penalty. It was Balko's work that helped overturn that sentence. Maye is now serving life at Parchman.
Currently, Dr. Hayne receives a lot of business from county coroners who are overloaded. Each autopsy he performs, Dr. Hayne is paid $550s. Balko claims that's why Hayne does so many.
Hayne refutes that, saying he isn't the only one performing the examinations from his office.
Dr. Hayne told WLBT by phone he was tired of the attacks.
"We will address the issue in a court of law, and we will have no difficulty proving our point," he said.
Balko wants the state to revisit every case Hayne testified in, as well as requiring contracted medical examiners like Hayne to meet certain profession requirements.
The National Association of Medical Examiners limits the number of autopsies a medical examiner can perform in a year to 250. After 325, that organization will no longer certify a medical examiner's practice.
Dr. Hayne says he is certified, but when we talked to him, he could not remember the name of the organization that certified him.