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Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dexter In The Dark, Take 2: Is Dr. Hayne Qualified To Render Expert Testimony?

On Saturday, I wrote a post about a Mississippi case, where the Court of Appeals of Mississippi found that forensic pathologist Dr. Hayne properly rendered expert testimony on blood spatter evidence.  The issue I raised in that post was whether we would usually expect a forensic pathologist to be able to interpret blood spatter evidence or whether the situation would be more analogous to a dermatologist testifying about HIV?  Well, apparently, there is a much more troubling issue raised by that case.  Earlier, this week, I was sent an e-mail by Radley Balko, who lives in my old stomping grounds of Alexandria, Virginia, and is a senior editor at Reason magazine and bloger at the Agitator.  According to the e-mail:

     -"I can't speak for what other courts have said, but I can tell you that the doctor in the case you mention -- Mississippi's Dr. Steven Hayne -- frequently testifies to matters he has no business testifying to.  Moreover, the guy really shouldn't even be testifying as a forensic pathologist.  I've been trying to draw attention to Hayne for months now.  I wrote about him initially in a long piece for Reason magazine (my employer), along with shorter pieces in the Wall Street Journal and Slate.  Thus far, it seems that Mississippi's courts have no interest in reining him in."

Balko then directed me to the following writings he's done on Hayne:

     -CSI Mississippi;

     -a series of blog posts about Hayne under the forensics category of his blog; and    

     -The Bite-Marks Men (which details the plights of two recently exonerated men who were convicted in part based upon Dr. Hayne's testimony and indicates that Hayne isn't board-certified in forensic pathology).

In a later e-mail, Balko wrote me, "It would be difficult to exaggerate how much damage this guy has done, both in the criminal courts and in Mississippi's tort and medical malpractice cases."  Looking through his writings on Dr. Hayne, I am convinced that Dr. Hayne is not qualified to be rendering expert testimony, and I direct readers to his compelling writings on the matter.  Unlike with blood spatters, in this case, I would say that the evidence speaks for itself.

-CM

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