With his license on the line, Mississippi doctor responds
Posted: April 9, 2008 3:25 pm
After the Innocence Project filed a formal complaint yesterday to revoke Steven Hayne’s Mississippi medical license due to his autopsy misconduct, the doctor broke his long silence to the media and tried to defend his record.
(Innocence Project) officials say Hayne performs too many autopsies each year – about 1,500.
The National Association of Medical Examiners limits pathologists to fewer than 250 autopsies a year.In the article, Hayne does not cite organizations that say it’s acceptable to do 350 autopsies a year, or organizations that recommend no limit at all – likely because no credible organization or expert would say it’s acceptable to do so many autopsies, let alone 1,500 per year. In the complaint filed yesterday, the Innocence Project also notes that Hayne claims to testify in more than 300 cases a year while also serving as the Medical Director of three different medical institutions. The volume of work is important, since the quality of Hayne’s work is so poor, as evidenced by numerous cases (several of which are cited in the complaint filed yesterday).
Hayne said such a number is arbitrary. “There’s one group that says you shouldn’t do more than 350, and there are other groups that don’t have a limit,” he said. “Should I call the Innocence Project to see if I’ve done too many and stop?”
He estimates he works 110 hours a week. “Some people were put on this earth to party, and some people were put on this earth to work,” he said. “I’ve always worked very hard.”
Hayne’s questionable practices have come to light after the exonerations of two Innocence Project clients – Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer – 15 years after Hayne’s testimony helped convict them of capital crimes they didn’t commit. Forrest Allgood, the prosecutor in both the Brewer and Brooks cases, comes to Hayne’s defense in today’s article.
"My experience with Hayne is that 99 times out of 100 he testifies this guy died and this is how he died," Allgood said. "How is that in any way convicting innocent people?"
Read the full article here. (Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, 04/09/08)
In the Brewer and Brooks cases, Hayne’s testimony substantiated Allgood’s central argument: that the defendants bit the victims before killing them. But the complaint filed yesterday says Hayne testified falsely to support Allgood’s prosecution case. Marks on the victims were not human bites, and they occurred after the victims died and their bodies were dumped in the water. There was no scientific basis for Hayne’s testimony, but the testimony was critical in helping Allgood wrongfully convict Brewer and Brooks in separate trials. As a result, Brewer was sentenced to die, and Brooks was sentenced to life without parole.
Read more coverage of yesterday’s request by the Innocence Project and the Mississippi Innocence Project that officials revoke Hayne’s license:
Associated Press: Attorneys ask state board to pull pathologist’s license
Read the Innocence Project’s April 8 letter to Mississippi officials.