Patterico's Pontifications


Balko’s WSJ Op-Ed Fails to Disclose the Main Reason He Wrote It

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:14 pm

Radley Balko has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal about a Mississippi medical examiner named Steven Hayne. Balko argues that Hayne is an incompetent and unqualified medical examiner who has no business testifying in criminal cases.

The average reader of Balko’s op-ed is likely to conclude that Balko is simply a disinterested journalist writing about a questionable medical examiner. That’s because Wall Street Journal readers weren’t told that Radley Balko has an ulterior motive to discredit Dr. Hayne.

Specifically, Dr. Hayne was one of the most critical witnesses in the trial of Cory Maye, a Mississippi inmate whose efforts to overturn his murder conviction have been a central focus of Balko’s professional life for some time. In short, although he writes about many topics, Balko is known primarily for his work done on behalf of Cory Maye.

Despite the centrality of Dr. Hayne’s testimony to the Cory Maye case, Balko does not mention one word about Cory Maye in today’s op-ed. This omission gives Balko’s piece a false veneer of extra credibility, because it appears to be the work of a neutral journalist, rather than what it actually is: a piece by an activist with a longstanding and well-established point of view regarding Dr. Hayne.

The omission is very curious, because Cory Maye is the only reason Balko ever became interested in Steven Hayne. And Balko has told readers that he wants to see Dr. Hayne discredited because that will help Cory Maye. But the readers of today’s piece are told none of this.

Balko’s initial interest in Dr. Hayne was wholly due to the fact that Dr. Hayne testified against Maye. Indeed, Balko has made it clear that he first began investigating Dr. Hayne because of the importance of Dr. Hayne’s testimony in the Maye trial. In December 2005, Balko wrote:

Hayne’s testimony was crucial in securing Maye’s conviction. His testimony about the trajectory of the bullet found in Jones’ body cast doubt on Maye’s version of how the raid transpired. Maye’s current lawyer, Bob Evans, thinks jurors dismissed just about everything Cory Maye said after hearing Hayne’s testimony.

In that same post, Balko first mentioned Dr. Hayne’s questionable testimony in an unrelated case — testimony that Balko discusses in today’s op-ed. The post makes it clear that Balko became interested in that testimony because it might have some relevance to the Cory Maye case.

Thereafter, Balko continued to write about Dr. Hayne in connection with the Maye case. For example, in October 2006, Balko wrote a lengthy article about the Cory Maye case — and devoted considerable space to attacking Dr. Hayne’s credentials. Indeed, in the Mississippi Supreme Court case discussed in Balko’s WSJ op-ed, a concurring opinion quoted from the portion of Balko’s article discussing Dr. Hayne. In January of this year, Balko noted that fact on his blog, and wrote that he hoped it might be positive news for Maye:

Here’s hoping Hayne gets continued scrutiny from the state’s supreme court going forward, including when they sit to hear Cory’s case.

And just a few days ago, Balko touted his upcoming Reason article on Dr. Hayne (which today’s op-ed is based on) and again mentioned the fact that Dr. Hayne did the autopsy in the Maye case.

Yet not one word concerning Maye made its way into today’s op-ed. Indeed, in the concluding paragraph of the op-ed, Balko writes:

The state [of Mississippi] needs to revisit every criminal case in which Dr. Hayne has testified.

But Balko doesn’t mention that one of those criminal cases is the Maye case — a case in which Balko has personally championed the defendant’s innocence.

That’s something that WSJ readers should have been told.

Regardless of whether this information was omitted by Balko or by an editor, it was important information that should have appeared in the article. After all, a reader may well respond differently to an article if the reader knows the author is an admitted activist, rather than a neutral journalist.

For example: Balko pointedly says in his op-ed that “Dr. Hayne declined repeated requests from me to comment.” That might sound vaguely suspicious to a reader who thinks Balko came to the story without preconceived notions. The reader might have a very different view if he knew that Balko has openly questioned Hayne’s credibility for months, on a case that has been very important to Balko’s career.

Similarly, as I show in a companion post, Balko’s zeal on behalf of Maye has led him to (I assume unintentionally) misstate the facts of a critical court precedent. A reader might be more skeptical of his facts in this piece, knowing that Balko’s bias has affected the accuracy of his assertions in other contexts.

By the way, I am not drawing any conclusions regarding the accuracy of the allegations in Balko’s op-ed. I simply don’t know enough about Dr. Hayne to comment.

Nor am I in any way disparaging Mr. Balko’s decision to work on behalf of Maye. I am most certainly not arguing that it is somehow improper for someone like Balko to become an activist on behalf of someone like Cory Maye. Quite to the contrary, I have explicitly approved of the involvement of committed activists working on behalf of convicted defendants. Very often it is only through the efforts of such activists that an inmate’s innocence comes to light, and I respect very much any person who devotes their time to such work, if they truly believe that they may be helping a genuinely innocent person.

But if one of them writes an article directly relevant to their cause, they need to disclose that fact.

P.S. I am obviously not accusing Balko of any longstanding effort to hide the connection between Dr. Hayne and the Cory Maye case. As the links and quotes above show, Balko has discussed the connection explicitly on many occasions, and the involvement of Dr. Hayne is familiar to anyone who has closely followed the facts of the Maye case.

But Balko’s op-ed takes the issue of Dr. Hayne’s reputation to a wider audience, which likely includes many people who are unfamiliar with the minute details of the Cory Maye case. As such, they should have been told of the connections between the author, the subject of the piece, and an inmate on whose behalf the author has extensively worked.

UPDATE: Balko has responded here. My response is here.

UPDATE x2: As Balko makes clear in his post, which I linked in the first update, he and I have had public disagreements in the past. The overwhelming majority of my readers already know about these disagreements, and they are referenced in comments on this and related posts on this site. If I were publishing this post in the Wall Street Journal, though, I would be sure to mention these past disagreements. I would also mention that I am a prosecutor who puts medical examiners on the stand at trial — another fact that regular readers already know.

UPDATE x3: I initially wrote that “Balko’s interest in Dr. Hayne was wholly due to the fact that Dr. Hayne testified against Maye. Indeed, Balko has made it clear that he first began investigating Dr. Hayne because of the importance of Dr. Hayne’s testimony in the Maye trial.” When taken out of context, the first sentence could be read to imply that even now, Balko has no other interest in Hayne beyond Maye. I think it’s clear I don’t think that, but it’s best to be clear. So, I have changed the first sentence to read “Balko’s initial interest in Dr. Hayne was wholly due to the fact that Dr. Hayne testified against Maye.” That is what I meant to say, as the sentence following it (and the rest of my post) makes clear. Thanks to Christoph for pointing this out.

UPDATE x4: I have a new post which gives another possible interpretation for why Dr. Hayne might have testified the way he did in the Edmonds case cited by Balko.

UPDATE x5: I have read Balko’s Reason piece on Hayne. My reactions here.

UPDATE x6 2-23-09: Having had this controversy revisited by a Radley Balko comment on my blog recently, I have re-read this post. If I rewrote the post today, I would probably change one thing: instead of saying “the main reason” in the title, I would have said “an important reason.” Otherwise, I think it’s a pretty good post.


  1. Yes, that is terrible of Balko.

    Almost as bad as accusing a 93 year old recently deceased woman of being a drug dealer and deserving to get shot by crooked police, while SIMULTANEOUSLY admonishing people not to jump to conclusions.

    Chutzpah, indeed.

    Comment by Clapper (7787b4) — 10/6/2007 @ 9:19 pm

  2. That’s a remarkable respect for the facts you’ve got there.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/6/2007 @ 9:23 pm

  3. Hey, she deserved the lumps she got, right, tough guy?

    Comment by Clapper (7787b4) — 10/6/2007 @ 9:28 pm

  4. Listen, you anonymous, cowardly dumbass, you’ve made your irrelevant and inaccurate point. That’s not what the post is about, so that’s the last post you’re making on the topic. Kapeesh, tough guy?

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/6/2007 @ 9:32 pm

  5. Dumb as I often am, I’m not dumb enough to bait a prosecutor or sneeringly call him “tough guy”. Fortunately you are somewhat anonymous, but you may have biased Patterico’s views on the next defendant as willfully stupid as yourself.

    Hope it made you feel good for little bit.

    Patterico, it is quite possible that an editor simply cut Balko’s op-ed and/or bio-blurb for some damn fool reason or other. If Balko informs you that was the case, could you let us know? I enjoy much of his writing and find him…hot-headed but well-meaning. If he intentionally concealed his track record in this instance, that would be worth knowing, as would the bonehead editor scenario. You’ll likely hear from him before too long, so please keep us posted.

    Comment by Uncle Pinky (3c2c13) — 10/6/2007 @ 11:38 pm

  6. Uncle Pinky,

    You’ll note, of course, that I said in my post that an editor might have cut the reference.

    Except that we now know that didn’t happen. Balko has already posted something of a screed in response to my post. The one thing it makes clear is that he never mentioned Maye — not only in the WSJ piece, but even in the 5000-word Reason piece.

    I’m working on a new post responding to his.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/6/2007 @ 11:44 pm

  7. Does it really matter how Balko came across the story of prosecutorial corruption? All that space presuming and attacking the author’s motives, without a word on the merits of the piece. Am I to conclude you are now on the record as defending Dr Hayne?

    Comment by Nunya (869893) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:21 am

  8. Not such a good reader, are you, “Nunya”? Here is what I say in the post above — which you obviously didn’t read, choosing instead to rely on Balko’s depiction of it:

    By the way, I am not drawing any conclusions regarding the accuracy of the allegations in Balko’s op-ed. I simply don’t know enough about Dr. Hayne to comment.

    Next time, anonymous dumbass, read first and snark later.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:26 am

  9. Or should I say “not so anonymous” dumbass? Because “Nunya,” as it turns out, is our old friend Richard Bennett — whom I banned here long ago. But my tech guy insisted that I empty out my ban file to improve performance, and so we are getting cameos from some of the old obsessive crowd like Dick here.

    Back into the ban file you go, Dick.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:51 am

  10. The average reader of Balko’s op-ed is likely to conclude that Balko is simply a disinterested journalist writing about a questionable medical examiner.

    They are readers of the WSJ, not the LA Times. Give ‘em a little credit.


    Comment by Gerald A (e18cb7) — 10/7/2007 @ 1:29 am

  11. Wow. Nunya is not your old friend Dick Bennett (Not as smart as you thunk) and is apparently alot more anonymous than you think.

    I didn’t realize the depth and breadth of your idiocy, so I’ll spell it out real slow:

    What is the relevance of how the author came across this story? Unless an ulterior motive leads to misrepentation of the facts, why should I care about how the author unearthed said facts? Balko’s motive is only relevant if it colors the story, which you admit you’ve made no attempt to authenticate. Your attack on Balko is like your attack on me: juvenille and ad hominen.

    Comment by DickBennetNot (d3705b) — 10/7/2007 @ 4:30 am

  12. I’ve two questions relating to your claims in this piece. The first is admittedly pedantic. As near as I can tell, Balko’s work on paramilitary police raids predates his activism in the Cory Maye case. (Overkill came out 17 July 2006, while his Cory Maye article in Reason came out in October of the same year.) I assume his study of raids led to his interest in the Cory Maye case. It’s a small thing, but if one believes Balko has erred in not disclosing his activism, why not focus on his general activism rather than a specific case, even if the Cory Maye case is the one specifically tied to Dr. Hayne? Wouldn’t that be a better indicator of Balko’s bias?

    Secondly, I admit I did not consider Balko’s background an issue precisely because I read his blog and yours regularly, so I was already aware. This leads to my second question, which may come across as sarcastic or disingenuous, but I am seriously curious. Balko’s piece is explicitly an op-ed piece, which you acknowledge. Aren’t such pieces by definition neither neutral nor disinterested? Why would you or any reader be caught unawares by an author presenting his or her particular view in such a context?

    Comment by Quiescere (30aef0) — 10/7/2007 @ 5:01 am

  13. Is this really your best shot? You’d have to really have it in for the guy to waste even digital space on this sort of silly, meaningless criticism. Do you honestly think that anyone without a prior motive for attacking the author could possibly care less about this? I read the article, and whether or not he’s been an activist that has found fault with the man’s work in the past, the article stands on its own just fine without excessive disclaimers. Especially in an environment where space is so limited, wasting words on disclaimers that only the most nitpicky and bored critic would ever waste time worrying about is completely ridiculous.

    Go find a cause and do something worthwhile. You just look silly. This is the first writing of yours that I’ve read, and it will also be the last.

    Comment by Matthew (deaba2) — 10/7/2007 @ 5:01 am

  14. I’ve been casually following the Maye case for awhile, and am favorably inclined to support Balko’s arguments re Maye’s innocence.

    But if you’re writing an op-ed–pro or con–about the very same medical examiner involved with the case you’re advocating about, you should disclose that fact. Period. Frankly, I’m surprised so much “ink” has been devoted to arguing about the need for dislosure. It’s not even a close call.

    Comment by RHB (0b223e) — 10/7/2007 @ 5:46 am

  15. Seems awefully petty to snark about where Balko stumbled upon Hayne. This story has merit regardless of where the leade originated. Massive and routine deception, state-funded, with such horrible consequences as imprisoning innocent people and sentencing them to death row? Balko apparently spent quite a bit of time researching the Hayne case and it is a hell of a piece of investigative journalism.

    Comment by HTownTX (4807e1) — 10/7/2007 @ 6:14 am

  16. Yah, I did note that you had brought up the possibility of editor error, and felt that it was worth pursuing. Thanks for the update.

    As I’ve said before, I like reading Balko. He’s passionate and crusading and often engrossing. Most times he argues from logos with some pathos hucked in. Having an op-ed in the WSJ elevates his stature and makes his use of his expanded ethos debatable. When I get some time I’ll read his response, contrast it with your take and see where we come out. Gut call right now is, no matter how well reasoned his argument, more disclosure is better than less.

    Comment by Uncle Pinky (3c2c13) — 10/7/2007 @ 9:40 am

  17. I agree with Patterico that Balko should have disclosed his advocacy for Corey Maye and the fact he left it out causes me to be more suspicious about his motives and facts.

    On the other hand, if Balko had written a sentence that explains he learned about Hayne through the Corey Maye case and his concern that Maye was wrongfully convicted in part due to Hayne’s testimony, then that would grab the reader’s attention and make it clear why this issue matters. Thus, it might have strengthened Balko’s argument to mention the Maye case.

    By the way, I post here at Patterico’s blog and while I don’t always agree with Patterico, I do this time. I’m mentioning this because some readers might think my posting privileges cause me to be biased.

    See how easy that was?

    Comment by DRJ (d0ada6) — 10/7/2007 @ 10:22 am

  18. DRJ, I respect your position and agree with it… but not because it substantially diminishes Balko’s argument, just because not disclosing the fact allows an unnecessary arrow to remain in Balko’s critics’ quiver.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/7/2007 @ 10:26 am

  19. So, Balko (whom I a fan, full disclosure) finds out about Hayne while working on a story about Maye, which he probably found while following his previous (long lasting) work about paramilitary police force and the failed war on drugs. That work very possibly got started because he or someone he knows was terrorized by the criminals in blue and prosecutors more interested in convictions than justice.

    So should he have to disclose all of this to make you happy, Patt? Or could it just be that Balko is an activist against the abuse and injustice that clearly exists in the “Justice” system? You, being a prosecutor, probably love people coming out with damning facts that makes it harder for you to imprison innocent people. What exactly is YOUR motive for arguing against someone that simply wants justice to be done?


    Ron Paul 2008

    Comment by Sean (9dc0c4) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:03 pm

  20. Ugh, Sean, you killed your point by mentioning your nut-candidate. Mostly I’m opposed to ad-hominem, but for Ron Paul and his supporters I’ll make an exception.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:08 pm

  21. Another comment from a Constitution hater… not surprising. And to think my point was good UNTIL you found out I believe in the Constitution and Liberty.

    Comment by Sean (9dc0c4) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:42 pm

  22. Sure, I “hate” the Constitution. Nothing to do with opposing Paul’s policies.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/7/2007 @ 12:43 pm

  23. “Thanks to Christoph for pointing this out.”

    No worries, Patterico, call me an ass any time.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/7/2007 @ 5:50 pm

  24. Christoph, didn’t you know that “Constitution” and “Liberty” are registered trademarks of the Ron Paul campaign? By definition, no one can support Constitution and Liberty while opposing Paul, or vice-versa.

    Right, Sean?

    Comment by Xrlq (6c2116) — 10/7/2007 @ 8:29 pm

  25. If anyone had a sinister motive for wanting the Hayne story written and published…let me step up to the plate and admit I did! I contacted Radley Balko after a piece he had written was quoted by the Mississippi Supreme Court in the Tyler Edmonds case. Tyler was 13 years old when convicted and sentenced to 65 years in prison for a murder his half sister committed and Hayne testifed in part that the bullet wounds in Fulgham’s body were consistent with the prosecution’s theory that there were two hands on the gun that fired those bullets. Tyler is not alone, he isn’t the only child in Mississippi doing life in prison due in part to Hayne’s egregiously horrid “expert” testimony. The fact that even one person is in prison who may well be innocent warranted the story. That there ARE probably MANY makes the story a compelling read!

    Comment by Intrigued (e90762) — 10/7/2007 @ 9:08 pm

  26. I don’t have the trial transcript, but the Court of Appeals opinion makes it clear they didn’t think Hayne was testifying to what Balko claims. By contrast, the Supreme Court thought he was.

    Here is a representative quote from the Court of Appeals opinion:

    In considering Dr. Hayne’s testimony in context, it is critical to remember that in Edmond’s confession, Edmonds-despite saying at one point that Kristi’s hand was on the trigger-made it clear during further questioning that he was unsure of the location of either of Kristi’s hands when the fatal shot was fired, although he thought her right hand was on his stomach. Of equal importance is Edmonds’s statement that he “was just holding the gun” and “wasn’t really aiming at anything,” that he “was just pointing it somewhere at [that] time.”

    ¶ 50. It is not debatable that Joey was shot almost in the center of the back of his head. For that to happen, someone had to aim or point the gun toward Joey’s head. If Edmonds did not do the aiming, then Kristi did. On these facts, we do not find Dr. Hayne’s testimony problematic for two reasons.

    First, it was the defense, not the State, that asked the question regarding the two-person-trigger-firing scenario. Second, it is clear that the point which Dr. Hayne was attempting to make is that, given Edmonds’s testimony that Edmonds did not aim the weapon at anything, it was more likely than not that another person assisted. This interpretation is clearly borne out by Dr. Hayne’s answer to the following hypothetical question asked by the defense attorney: “And let’s suppose if one person had fired that shot, would your opinion be the same?” Dr. Hayne’s answer was, “I could not exclude that; however, I would favor that a second party be involved in that positioning of the weapon.” Had Edmonds not stated in his confession that he did not aim the weapon, there would not have been any basis for Dr. Hayne to answer as he did. Dr. Hayne is a well-respected forensic pathologist who has performed many autopsies in this state and has given in-court expert testimony numerous times. He knows that you cannot look at a bullet wound and tell whether it was made by a bullet fired by one person pulling the trigger or by two persons pulling the trigger simultaneously. The record does not bear out Edmonds’s contention that that was Dr. Hayne’s testimony in this case.

    The first of the two bolded sentences was chopped up by the Supreme Court to mean something other than what was written. Here is what the Supreme Court said:

    Tyler’[s] attorney objected to the testimony and requested a Daubert hearing, arguing that such testimony was beyond Dr. Hayne’s area of expertise. The circuit court denied the request, but the Court of Appeals recognized that such testimony was scientifically unfounded: “You cannot look at a bullet wound and tell whether it was made by a bullet fired by one person pulling the trigger or by two persons pulling the trigger simultaneously.” Edmonds at ¶ 51. We agree.

    Legally, the Supreme Court’s opinion is what matters. But that doesn’t necessarily make it correct.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/7/2007 @ 9:31 pm

  27. I may post more on the Court of Appeals’ entire analysis if I get time. The point is not that the Court of Appeals is necessarily right — but that there is another interpretation out there that makes sense.

    I.e., there’s another side to the story. There often is.

    And I think the Supreme Court was very sloppy about the way they quoted and characterized the Court of Appeals opinion.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/7/2007 @ 9:38 pm

  28. The one thing that jumped out at me from the Balko op-ed piece was that Hayne was performing roughly four times the number of autopsies per year that the profession believes can properly be handled by one person. This single factor seems to me to cast doubt on the quality of his work.

    I believe that the WSJ has a different editorial standard (and maybe different people as well) in respect of the Saturday op-ed pages. That standard seems looser in a number of ways. I would think the WSJ would be at least mildly embarrassed by the lack of full disclosure here.

    Comment by Voiceguy (7655c0) — 10/8/2007 @ 8:45 am

  29. Dr. Hayne is a well-respected forensic pathologist who has performed many autopsies in this state and has given in-court expert testimony numerous times.

    Well respected by whom? You and a few other bonehead prosecutors hungry for a guilty verdict?

    Comment by Intrigued (e90762) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:02 pm

  30. Intrigued, did you really pull that quote without noticing that it was a quotation from a court opinion? And not Patterico’s words?

    Sheesh, that’s lame.

    Comment by SPQR (6c18fd) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:06 pm

  31. It was lame. Bonehead smear at its worse. If he waw honest, or merely alert, he’d notice Patterico has doubts about Hayne and thinks they must be investigated by his state’s authorities.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:08 pm

  32. *was

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:09 pm

  33. You, being a prosecutor, probably love people coming out with damning facts that makes it harder for you to imprison innocent people. What exactly is YOUR motive for arguing against someone that simply wants justice to be done?

    Well, duh! He’s obviously a jackbooted thug who wants to lock everyone up, mostly because that’s what jackbooted thugs do. He argues against people who JUST WANT JUSTICE TO BE DONE because he’s a jackbooted thug, silly!

    Who wants to lock absolutely everyone up. Forever.


    Comment by Pablo (99243e) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:39 pm

  34. Quiescere,

    It’s a small thing, but if one believes Balko has erred in not disclosing his activism, why not focus on his general activism rather than a specific case, even if the Cory Maye case is the one specifically tied to Dr. Hayne? Wouldn’t that be a better indicator of Balko’s bias?

    Not when he’s writing about Hayne specifically.

    Comment by Pablo (99243e) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:43 pm

  35. The more I read Balko’s defense of his op-ed and reason piece and the serious charges he brings up against Hayne, the less convinced I am that Maye is the main reason he wrote it. I think Patterico’s wrong.

    It would have been better for Balko to disclose what brought Hayne to his attention in the first place because transparency is a virtue and it would have ended this controversy in advance… but I’d say Balko is now more concerned with what he considers the bigger picture re: Hayne.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/8/2007 @ 9:49 pm

  36. Plus, he’s barely made a dime of the Cory Maye case.

    It’s never mentioned in his resume.

    If he gets Cory Maye out of prison, it probably won’t mean another dime in his pocket.

    His “not a dime” defense was, if I may quote Balko The Man Himself, complete bullshit.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/8/2007 @ 10:06 pm

  37. Patterico, I’m totally lost about your last comment. Can I ask what you’re referring to?

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/8/2007 @ 10:08 pm

  38. You know, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, maybe you should inform yourself before you start calling me wrong. You didn’t even know Maye was still imprisoned. You probably haven’t read Balko’s response to me. You probably haven’t looked at any resume of his to see how central Maye is to his career. Yet you are blithely opining that I am wrong when you just don’t know what you’re talking about.

    You want to make yourself useful, find me a media ethicist who will hear my question. The media expert I contacted doesn’t want to get involved, and I don’t know any others who do. (I spoke to someone about all this before I published and they agreed with me, but I can’t say who that is.)

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 3:53 am

  39. Plus, “main reason” or not has nothing whatsoever to do with the disclosure issue.

    I’m done talking to you about this, Christoph.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 3:54 am

  40. I’m arriving at this late, I admit — maybe too late to hope for a response — and I further admit that I haven’t managed to read every single word of the scintillating back-and-forth.

    But I’ve been reasonably attentive, I think, and as far as I can tell, one question hasn’t been addressed: What do the editors at the Wall Street Journal think? You’ve established that the nondisclosure was Balko’s, not theirs — so have the WSJ editors been apprised of this alleged transgression?

    I’d be curious to know their reaction. Outrage? Yawn? Eye-roll? It wouldn’t settle the matter, of course, at least as a point of general ethics, but it’d give a sense of scale within the journalistic world (by addressing how writers are led to stories and when/whether that path matters, for example).

    Comment by Not Rhetorical (81134d) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:19 pm

  41. It’s a good question. My thinking is there was no conflict of interest involved, at least not as it would have been laid out in any official policy.

    If Maye was Balko’s brother, then yes, but if Maye was someone Balko wrote about, and this lead him to write about something else he discovered while investigating that, I just don’t see a direct conflict because Balko’s interests are not directly involved.

    Maye’s are to be sure, but not Balko’s, not directly.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:21 pm

  42. Not Rhetorical,

    If I can figure out the right person to contact, I’ll find out. Any idea who that would be?

    Without connections anything I send them will just get lost.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:26 pm

  43. Balko’s interests are not directly involved.

    Maye’s are to be sure, but not Balko’s, not directly.

    So says Mr. Oh Is Cory Maye Still In Prison?

    Here’s a hint, Sherlock. Go to Balko’s site. There’s a link there for resume. Click it and don’t forget your magnifying glass. Tell me what you see.

    As someone who knows the situation quite well told me recently: Radley Balko is known for Cory Maye.

    Read Milhouse’s comment on the other thread.

    Because you’re so goddamn ignorant on this subject you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. So you look like a complete idiot offering these opinions. Why, I think you may be so ignorant you’re actually EVIL.

    And . . . back to “ignore.”

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:29 pm

  44. “My reporting on the Cory Maye case was cited by the Mississippi Supreme Court (Mississippi v. Edmonds, concurring, Diaz), profiled in National Journal, and covered by blogs, newspapers, and online publications across the country. My reason magazine feature on the Maye case was a 2006 finalist for a Los Angeles Press Club award in investigative reporting.”

    I don’t know, man. One, as far as disclosure goes this is hardly a secret and there’s no way someone could accuse him of even being able to keep this connection a secret if he’d wanted to.

    Two, you’re well known for Hiltzik (it’s how I discovered you)… if you were promoting yourself as a journalist blogger this would and should make your resume… but just because you’re known for that story, does that mean any connection on which you write which touches on something you learned while looking into Hiltzik (if there was such a thing) should be declared in the op-ed?

    One of the reasons Maye wasn’t mentioned, I think, was just focusing available characters on his point rather than been drawn off into tangents. But in any event, even if this was an error by Balko, there’s a difference between someone who lives their life very publicly with Maye being referred to on his publicly posted resume not disclosing the fact in an article read by hundreds of thousands… and someone who is actually hiding a real conflict.

    At worst, bad judgment from Balko. But there was no way he could gain from it. Had he mentioned Maye, it wouldn’t have detracted from his op-ed’s power in the Maye case in my opinion.

    How would tying an allegedly money-grabbing incompetent prosecution shill-witness to an injustice suffered by Maye hurt Maye?

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:37 pm

  45. You didn’t read Milhouse’s comment, did you?

    Spin it out.

    Balko discredits Hayne.

    Maye’s case is revisited.

    He is freed.

    Balko doesn’t benefit?

    My God, you are dense and retarded.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:40 pm

  46. I’m trying to find Millhouse’s comment as we speak. Remember the part where I asked you to refer me to details?

    There are like a gazillion threads on this topic.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:41 pm

  47. Enjoy.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:43 pm

  48. Of course Balko benefits. The question is is this a direct conflict of interest as laid out in journalism and legal guidelines and I’m doubtful.

    And yes, I got that entire theory you just laid out within about two minutes of you referring to Balko in the first place days ago. You said above you don’t know how the WSJ editors feel about this and whether this violates their ethical guidelines. Well, I don’t either. And it’s rather an important question don’t you think?

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:44 pm

  49. I would absolutely love to know what they think.

    But then, Erwin Chemerinsky once wrote an op-ed about the Newdow Pledge of Allegiance case — and forgot to mention that Chemerinsky had helped Newdow prepare the case. WHOOPS!

    I wrote Michael Kinsley about it and got nowhere.

    Since then I ran it by another L.A. Times editor who said I was absolutely right.

    But when I brought it up wth Kinsley — nothing.

    Tell me who to ask at the WSJ and I’ll ask. But if I just write some letter to the editor to their standard link, it will go into a black hole.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:47 pm

  50. Millhouse writes a very good post. It is not too far off from what I’ve believed all along (although whether an op-ed opinion piece writer can be held to the same standard as a lawyer anticipating going to trial in a case is hardly clear).

    My favorite part in Millhouse’s post was “maybe, maybe not.”

    And that was my point. I didn’t assume the worst from Balko although I acknowledged that’s possible and wish he’d disclosed as Millhouse recommends. My main point is not that he shouldn’t have disclosed, because I’ve said he should have ad verbosity. It’s that I thought the main reason he wrote the Hayne piece was Hayne’s questionable practices and Maye was secondary to that. That’s what Balko stated in reply to you and I’ll buy it.

    The reason I’ll buy it is if I were in his shoes, that’s the way I’d see it. Maye may be helpful to me, but Hayne goes far beyond that. So, in my case not necessarily Balko’s, the *main* reason I’d write that would indeed be the general injustice I see.

    I think it would advance Balko’s career just as much to have such a great expose on Mississippi’s justice system generally as on the one case.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:50 pm

  51. Tell me who to ask at the WSJ and I’ll ask. But if I just write some letter to the editor to their standard link, it will go into a black hole.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/9/2007 @ 11:47 pm

    Then why not write multiple letters to the editor (a tactic I’ve used in the past… some get published, others don’t) to each of the WSJ’s local and national competitors?

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:55 pm

  52. What a retarded and dense idea.

    Find me the name and e-mail of the right person and I’ll write them.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:57 pm

  53. Night.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/9/2007 @ 11:58 pm

  54. Well, when I had a point of view I felt strongly about, opposed to the interests of the editors of many papers in Canada, I wrote dozens of letters to the editor (through the magic of technology) and got several published. And you know what?

    I had to find the links on my own. It wasn’t even that hard. I also tried to find the name of the actual editor where possible and wrote it to them. A few wrote me back personally.

    So speaking of whiny…

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/10/2007 @ 12:00 am

  55. Christoph & Xrlq-

    Please name me an unconstitutional Ron Paul policy and the constitutional policy you like better. And I mean Constitutional, as it was written and amended and not interpreted by the idiots in a court.


    Comment by Sean (1e82d2) — 10/10/2007 @ 4:03 pm

  56. You’re not voting for a constitution, you’re voting for a person, and your person is a nut.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/10/2007 @ 4:12 pm

  57. No, I’m voting for a protector of the Constitution. No one else in our current government shows as much respect for the Constitution as Ron Paul. Call him a nut all you want, it doesn’t change the fact he is the only defender of the Constitution left in national government.

    Oh, nice none answer. Call them crazy and you must be right. Right?

    Comment by Sean (1e82d2) — 10/10/2007 @ 5:50 pm

  58. Sean:

    Please name me an unconstitutional Ron Paul policy…

    Why on earth? You’re the one playing the “anyone who disagrees with me hates the Constitution” card, not me. My position on Paul is that he’s an idiot, not that his idiotic policies are unconstitutional. Most dumb ideas are constitutional, and Paul’s are no exception.

    Comment by Xrlq (5a5e4c) — 10/10/2007 @ 6:55 pm

  59. Sean, if you’re down to one of 537, you’ve lost.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/10/2007 @ 7:06 pm

  60. Or let me put this another way… maybe you should build up and get “two” elected before you try to get your lone voicing barking at the moon elected President.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/10/2007 @ 7:07 pm

  61. Robert Pollock is the editorial features editor at the Wall Street Journal. He is the person to whom Balko would have submitted his piece, I believe. The official e-mail address is; I wasn’t able specifically to find Pollock’s e-mail address, but the convention for Journal e-mail addresses would suggest it’s

    Comment by Not Rhetorical (69faff) — 10/10/2007 @ 9:39 pm

  62. Not Rhetorical,

    I have drafted an e-mail to Mr. Pollock.

    And that’s not even rhetorical.

    Comment by Patterico (bad89b) — 10/10/2007 @ 10:01 pm

  63. I hope he responds. On a related note: Have you alerted Romenesko to your postings & comments on the subject? The conversation seems right up his alley. Just a(nother!) thought.

    Comment by Not Rhetorical (69faff) — 10/10/2007 @ 10:10 pm

  64. Christoph-

    That’s the sad part. You think I’ve lost, when in reality it is the Constitution and the People that have lost. The Rights of the People and the States have been slowly stripped away by both political parties. Neither believes that the Constitution applies to them unless that will advance their power.

    Currently, Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate that does in fact respect the Constitution and knows that it applies to him. The federal government has drastically over stepped its limits and I want that to change. Dr. Paul, as President, would have significant power to do just that.

    I also think it telling that you would call a medical doctor of over 40 years an idiot.

    Comment by Sean (5c48dc) — 10/11/2007 @ 1:39 pm

  65. Why, Sean? Plenty of doctors are stupid.

    Comment by Christoph (92b8f7) — 10/11/2007 @ 1:41 pm

  66. So, in my case not necessarily Balko’s, the *main* reason I’d write that would indeed be the general injustice I see.

    I think it would advance Balko’s career just as much to have such a great expose on Mississippi’s justice system generally as on the one case.

    I completely agree with this statement. I had forgotten until I saw this on the news and read the article but the statements made regarding Dr. Hayne appear to be true. I am much more concerned about the impact his testimony has had on so many cases and the number of innocent people who are potentially in prison because of such testimony and practice.

    I am personally involved in one myself (trying to help someone) and Dr. Hayne was indeed the chief forensics expert. Furthermore, I have a friend who attended EMT school and experienced first hand the goings on during an autopsy and she described to me almost verbatim (several years ago) and then again yesterday what she experienced which matches, again, almost exactly what is stated in the original article. And no, I didn’t refresh her memory at all. Only after she re-told me of her experience did I read to her the article from the WSJ.

    So, who is going to be looking into this? That is my biggest concern. There is more than one person’s life involved here!

    Comment by JusticeForMississippi (470ef9) — 10/15/2007 @ 9:11 pm

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