Friday, April 12, 2013

Bulletin: David Parvin: New trial ordered for convicted murderer after Mississippi Supreme Court rejects controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne's testimony. Calls heard for review of all of Hayne's cases. Radley Balko. The Huffington Post. Must Read. (Bravo Radley! HL.)

POST: "Mississippi Supreme Court tosses Steven Jayne medical examiner testimony in murder case," by Radley Balko, published  by the Huffington Post on April 12, 2013.

GIST:  "The Mississippi Supreme Court has thrown out the testimony of the prolific and controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne and ordered a new trial for convicted murderer David Parvin in a unanimous decision. It’s the second time in 20 years that the court has found problems with Hayne’s testimony in a murder case and may foreshadow things to come. The state high court justices found Hayne’s testimony and another forensic witness’s recreation of the killing based on Hayne’s measurements to be “woefully short of the requirements for admissibility,” according to the opinion issued Thursday. Furthermore, the court ruled that because “the speculative ‘expert’ opinions and the accompanying computer-generated depictions of a ‘possible’ account of the shooting should not have been placed before the jury.” “As this constituted the main evidence utilized to undermine Parvin’s defense, reversal is required,” the justices wrote, throwing out Parvin's conviction and sentence and ordering a new trial..........For nearly 20 years, Hayne performed as much as 90 percent of the criminal autopsies in Mississippi, which by his own account could approach 1,800 autopsies per year. Over the last two years, The Huffington Post has reported on several other cases in which Hayne and his frequent collaborator Michael West have given questionable testimony or issued forensics reports that led to a wrongful arrest -- most recently in January, with an investigation into the 1997 murder of 39-year-old Kathy Mabry......... Based in part on Huffington Post investigations, the Mississippi Innocence Project recently completed a long profile of Hayne and filed petitions for post-conviction relief in several cases. Those petitions make a well-documented argument that Hayne, West, and state officials have systematically corrupted Mississippi's murder investigation system for two decades, affecting potentially thousands of convictions. David Parvin was one of the cases in which the Innocence Project filed its dossier on Hayne. The ruling this week suggests the Mississippi Supreme Court is ready to scrutinize Hayne and the prosecutors who relied on his testimony. In an email response to a Huffington Post inquiry, Mississippi Innocence Project director Tucker Carrington wrote, “Our position is that the Parvin case -- specifically Dr. Hayne's baseless testimony and its admission -- is like his testimony in many others, including those in which we have recently filed for relief. In each we submit that Dr. Hayne's testimony, the bases supporting it, and in many instances his claims about his basic expertise, were similarly flawed. Applying the Court's reasoning today in Parvin to those cases should necessitate the same just result......... Until this week, the Mississippi Supreme Court had been deferential toward Hayne. Even in the Tyler Edmonds case, the majority treated Hayne’s testimony as a one-off. In the Parvin case, the court’s tone is far more skeptical, at times almost mocking Hayne. Several Mississippi officials, including a former state Supreme Court justice, told The Huffington Post in January that Mississippi needs a thorough, comprehensive review of every case in which Hayne or West testified."

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