Mississippi's Medical Examiner for Hire: New Probe Underway

Dr. Steven Hayne, Mississippi's medical examiner for hire, had his faulty forensic work exposed when two inmates, wrongfully convicted in separate child murders, were exonerated a few weeks ago after serving 15 years in prison. The Innocence Project has more on his background and on the two clients recently released.

There's more news today, as the Innocence Project has filed open records requests on Dr. Hayne.

The Innocence Project and the Mississippi Innocence Project today issued 23 formal Public Records Act requests that will show the extent to which discredited medical examiner Steven Hayne is using state facilities to conduct autopsies – and potentially using federally-funded crime labs for forensic work that is fraught with negligence and misconduct.


Hayne, who is not properly board-certified, conducts 80% of all criminal autopsies in Mississippi – and contributed to the wrongful convictions of two Innocence Project clients who were recently freed in Noxubee County. Hayne nets well over $1 million a year in taxpayer funds for conducting autopsies and testifying in cases. Technically, he functions as an independent contractor (a “medical examiner for hire”), but autopsies conducted in federally funded state labs are subject to closer scrutiny, the Innocence Project said.

How many more inmates have been wrongfully convicted and are languishing in Mississippi jails?

Responses to these open records requests should help answer that question. And again, Radley Balko is following Haynes closely, so check in at The Agitator for updates.

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  • Display: Sort:
    It's hard to find.... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:04:48 PM EST
    more noble work being done than that being done by the Innocence Project.

    Long may they run....

    Well said my friend, well said. (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:50:10 PM EST
    can we work on Tennessee now? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:08:49 PM EST
    I really wish more people would blog about and discuss the West Memphis Three.

    there is tons on line about them if you google.
    they have been a pet peeve/project of mine for a long time.

    sorry (none / 0) (#3)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:09:42 PM EST
    I guess that would be arkansas.
    west memphis arkansas.

    One wonders why this medical examiner (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:29:38 PM EST
    isn't getting the full, federal prosecution treatment like, say, former Pittsburgh M.E. Cyril Wecht.  His trial - for (gasp!) alleged honest services fraud by using the government fax machine for personal faxes (among other minutiae) - has been on for well into a month.  There are more articles in the Pittsburgh papers than I can count - here's one.

    Maybe it's because the Mississippi medical examiner is not a Democrat and Wecht is?

    These cases are just the tip of the iceberg for... (none / 0) (#6)
    by sef on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 04:06:34 PM EST
    Radley Balko at the Agitator & Reason mag notes goes even further.  He notes at least two additional wrongful conviction Hayne's had a hand in (including a second capital murder). Indeed,  Hayne's work &/or consultations may well have played a role in sending five different people to death row for crimes (and in one case noncrime) that they did not commit.  Balko appears to be about two months ahead of what the Innocence Project feels comfortable going with, however, he has been hitting homerun after homerun on the topic.