Mississippi: “Former state pathologist suing Innocence Project”

by Walter Olson on November 17, 2008

“Dr. Steven Hayne, the man who performed most of Mississippi’s autopsies for 20 years, has filed a defamation lawsuit against The Innocence Project.” (Howard Ballou, WLBT, Oct. 30).

Hayne has been criticized because he said he conducted about 1,500 autopsies a year, much higher than the recommended standard [of fewer than 250 -- ed.].

His testimony in two murder cases from Noxubee County turned out to be inaccurate and both men convicted in those cases were released from prison earlier this year.

One of the men had spent 15 years on Death Row for a crime he didn’t commit.

A third man has confessed to both slayings.

(“Investigation changes are needed”, Hattiesburg American, Oct. 22). As part of its campaign against Hayne, the Innocence Project sent more than 1,000 pages of material documenting its complaints to the Mississippi state medical licensure board and also denounced him to the national College of American Pathologists. (Jerry Mitchell, “Embattled doc suing Innocence Project”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Oct. 31). Radley Balko at Reason has been a longtime critic of Hayne (“Hit and Run”, Nov. 7), as has Lotus @ Folo. On Jun. 6, we reported on charges that Dr. Hayne’s forensic work has been of extensive assistance to plaintiff’s lawyers in Mississippi liability suits.