Patterico's Pontifications

10/7/2007

Balko Responds

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:35 am



As I expected he might, Radley Balko has responded to my post about his Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking the credibility of a Mississippi medical examiner. In that post, I noted that Balko’s op-ed failed to disclose that the medical examiner was a central witness against Cory Maye, for whom Balko has been an unabashed and highly visible activist. In a companion post, I noted how Balko’s bias in favor of Maye was relevant in assessing Balko’s credibility on issues relating to Maye, as that bias had led him in the past to misstate the facts of a court precedent.

Balko’s rather intemperate response is here. He claims my post is “complete speculation” and “utter bullshit.” I look “foolish and obsessive” to suggest that he should have disclosed the Cory Maye connection in his op-ed.

We now know that the lack of disclosure wasn’t the Wall Street Journal‘s fault. We also know — and this, frankly, surprises me — that Cory Maye isn’t mentioned in the upcoming Reason article, either.

Interesting.

Balko asks why in the world he would fail to disclose this:

Think about it this way, and Patterico’s accusation is even weirder: If wanting to free Cory Maye is the “main reason” why I wrote an expose on Dr. Hayne in the Wall Street Journal, why would I have neglected to mention anything about Cory Maye in said article?

I don’t know what Balko means by the word “accusation.” Let me be clear: I’m not accusing Balko of omitting the information deliberately. I put that in bold because I expect he will claim that I am making that accusation, despite what I just said. So I want it crystal clear that I am not making the accusation.

But Balko is wrong to act as though the omission of the information could not possibly help Maye in any way. So, since he asked how the omission might help Maye, I’ll tell him exactly how. It’s relevant to why this needed to be disclosed. I already addressed one possible reason in my earlier post: because the 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.

As I said in my post,

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.

The same principle applies to the Reason article. If Radley Balko writes 5000 words about the chief witness against his cause celebre, and doesn’t mention the connection, that lack of disclosure confers a false aura of objectivity upon the article. Now, granted, that isn’t likely to fool anyone who already knows Balko’s work. But it might mislead, say, readers of the Wall Street Journal — or maybe even justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court, if they weren’t paying close attention. And that could benefit Cory Maye.

Now, if you want my honest opinion, I don’t think that’s why Balko omitted the information. I think he’s just blind to the need for disclosure. He doesn’t see how his bias for Cory Maye could be seen as having an effect on his credibility in writing about one of the principal witnesses against him. And now it’s being pointed out by someone he doesn’t like (me) — so he’s straining to downplay the need to disclose this information.

But really, it’s pretty clear that he should have mentioned it. Radley Balko is known for his work on Cory Maye. Dr. Hayne is one of the most critical witnesses against Maye. These facts should have been disclosed in a Radley Balko piece attacking Dr. Hayne. Period.

I’m sorry to have to be so blunt about it, but it’s not even really a close call, under the circumstances.

Again, I am not accusing Balko of doing this deliberately. I point out the possible benefits to Maye because 1) Balko is claiming that there are none, and 2) it demonstrates the need for the disclosure.

Balko takes issue with my claim that Cory Maye is the “main reason” he wrote about Dr. Hayne. The idea that Dr. Hayne is important to Radley Balko primarily because of Cory Maye is not “complete speculation,” as Balko claims. The reason I say this is detailed in my earlier post. Balko brought up Dr. Hayne on his blog numerous times, almost always in connection with Cory Maye. I’m sure Balko is also motivated to raise concerns regarding the other cases in which Dr. Hayne has testified. But Balko is the one who has explicitly said:

“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 then wrote two articles about Dr. Hayne that didn’t mention Cory Maye.

I wasn’t the first person to make the connection between Dr. Hayne and Cory Maye. Balko was — and he did so repeatedly, as I showed in my previous post.

By the way, Balko “sort of” admits that he got the facts wrong on the court precedent, as I argued in the companion post, by saying that I am “sort of” right. (How I am wrong at all, he does not say.) But, he says, my criticism is “rather lame” and focuses on a “minor detail” of “negligible importance to the broader point” — that the precedent is a good one for Maye. Reading his post, you’d think that I didn’t acknowledge that in my companion post. But I did. I explicitly acknowledged that “there is still a strong argument that [the Wheeler case] is a good precedent for Maye.”

I’ve already had at least one angry reader coming here from Balko’s site who revealed through his comment that he hadn’t read my post. I urge anyone who has come to this site from Balko’s to actually read my posts before you make up your mind. My posts, while pointed, were fairly restrained. I took no cheap shots. I stuck to the facts. I supported my arguments with evidence. I explained the relevance of the Cory Maye case to Balko’s op-ed, and even carefully noted that the omission might have been an editor’s fault (even though it turned out that it wasn’t).

Ultimately, I think Balko is getting so upset at me, not because I did anything to deserve his anger . . . but because deep down, he knows I’m right about this. He should have made the disclosure. It’s not the end of the world. But he should have done it.

UPDATE: 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 x2: I have read Balko’s Reason piece on Hayne. My reactions here.

169 Responses to “Balko Responds”

  1. Should Balko have explicitly stated the Maye-Hayne connection? Perhaps, but it doesn’t change one single fact.

    Yes Balko found out about Hayne because of Maye, but that does not mean that his interest in Hayne’s credibility is somehow tainted. In the real world people become interested in subjects because of connections. It’s a fallacy to assume otherwise.

    In the end, however, you come off as a pedant. You take a small point and attempt to make it something it is not.

    Robert S. Porter (e483fd)

  2. Yes Balko found out about Hayne because of Maye, but that does not mean that his interest in Hayne’s credibility is somehow tainted. In the real world people become interested in subjects because of connections. It’s a fallacy to assume otherwise.

    It’s a fallacy to assume that other people would agree with you that Balko’s reporting on Hayne is not biased. Therefore, it should have been disclosed and people allowed to make up their own minds on the issue. One thing that is clear is that Balko is rabid in his support of Maye. So, the fact that he did not disclose the connection makes it look even more suspicious.

    dave (388c31)

  3. It’s a bizarre thing to obsess over. It’s probably best for all concerned if he goes back to ignoring you and you get over commenting on him in ways that make you look silly.

    For the record, I wish to disclose my bias on this matter because I do read his blog and not yours. Furthermore given that I got bored to tears with your angling around the prior arguments you started with him and eventually having to backtrack as events unfolded I may not have read this one from an entirely neutral point of view. Please take all this into account in reading my opinion on this matter and factor it into your analysis (sure, I can see someone writing a paragraph like that after a WSJ opinion piece)

    Bernard (7687a5)

  4. I assume everyone, yourself included, has a bias. So what? The facts either back up the argument or they don’t. I’m more concerned that in these three articles you’ve argued ad hominem and not attacked the facts presented.

    You seem to want it both ways in Wheeler, conceding yourself that the precedent supports Maye, while complaining about the factual misstatement which Balko has corrected. Even more than mainstream media, which also state things that aren’t true and later correct them, blogs are up-to-the-minute, and I’ve seen other corrections in Balko’s blog such as here when Jena defendant Mychal Ball’s previously sealed juvenile conviction was revealed.

    Maybe you’re right. These articles are a calculated strategy to convince people that Cory Maye ought to be free. I wouldn’t do it this way, because the other facts of that incident seem enough to convince anyone who could ever be convinced. But Balko is entitled to tell his story. These are strong claims against Hayne to begin with and need strong proof. If the best criticism is that Balko is going somewhere with this, I might continue to want strong proof, and might continue to scrutinize other stories that might be going to the same place, but I’m not going to refuse to believe it.

    I’m not familiar with your work, Patterico, beyond these three articles — what is your motivation, and where are you going?

    David Chesler (1ad6da)

  5. P: me thinks Balko deliberately omitted the connection.

    To anyone who has followed the Maye case, Hayne is huge; it’s impossible to ignore the connection between Hayne’s credibility and the chance Maye has of ever getting out of jail. When I started reading the op-ed and saw ‘Hayne’, without even having glanced to see that Balko was the author, I knew this was about the guy whose testimony was crucial in convicting Maye and I read the article with that in mind. Hayne is the elephant, it’s impossible to ignore him, it’s impossible to write or read about him without thinking of Maye. And one can’t write, as Balko did, or read, as I did, “how important it is that state expert witnesses be reputable, credible, and accountable before ever stepping onto the witness stand” without thinking that anything that reflects badly on Hayne improves the chance of Maye getting out of jail. Leaving Maye out of these articles required a conscious thought to do so, it had to have taken effort to shove the elephant out of the room; leaving Maye out of this article is not something that falls in the category of ‘oops, it slipped my mind, it didn’t occur to me that anyone would be interested’.

    As I read the article, I was surprised that Maye wasn’t mentioned, I thought it odd that any competent reporter could do a story involving Hayne without coming across Maye (#1 on Google) and that, having come across the connection, wouldn’t have thought to mention it. After looking to see who this incompetent writer was, I did a double take seeing that it was Balko and went to sleep wondering what in the world could have caused him to leave Maye out of a story that reflected badly on Hayne. Even if, as Balko claims, he stumbled on this particular case as part of his research on Maye, how could he not say as much in the story? Thanks for providing a reason.

    Another thought: it would surprise me if the WSJ didn’t screen in some way for conflicts. Did they not ask Balko if he had any connection or interest (financial or otherwise) in this particular story? I can’t imagine that if they did, and if he answered (as he should have) yes, then the WSJ wouldn’t have made that disclosure. Business writers have to disclose if they have a financial interest in the companies they write about, and Balko certainly has a financial interest in the Maye story going and seeing him freed (book deal, ala Johnson and Taylor with the Duke case?).

    stevesturm (d3e296)

  6. For God’s sake, Pattrico, is your running little fight with Balko so important to you that your most important response to what looks like a very solid case that the state of Mississipi has been putting people in jail for years on the testimony of a doctor who is at best a raging incompetent or at worst a flat out liar is to figure out how you can make a critiscism of Balko out of it? Granted, that yes, he could have or even should have mentioned the Hayne’s case in his article, what about the main charges?

    Did Hayne’s testify that he could tell a gun had been fired by two fingers on the tigger at the same time, and is this as utterly rediculous as it sounds? Is he doing doing a suspiciously large number of autopsy’s? I don’t want to just take Balko’s word for it, after all, as you point out, he might be biased. So I come here to get your take, and instead I get multiple long postings on how Balko misstated 1 fact in a case years ago. Get over it already and either post something showing me he is wrong about this Hayne’s guy or go ahead, grit your teeth, and admit he is right about this.

    Counterfactual (3a9a56)

  7. a reader may well respond differently to an article if the reader knows the author is an admitted activist, rather than a neutral journalist.

    Patterico, I think your binary assertions of admitted activist / (rather than a) neutral journalist ignores the most valuable position, investigative journalist. Good investigative journalism may look like activism (I guess) to someone unfamiliar with journalism. In this case though, Balko was pursuing one important story, and stumbled upon a second and even bigger story. Hayne has intentially inflicted (and continues to inflict) massive injustice on the citizens of Mississippi. That is bigger than even the injustice metted out to Mr. Maye.

    This is a big-damn-story, by itself.

    HTownTX (4807e1)

  8. I am a longtime regular reader of both sites, and on the earlier Patterico/Balko blowup I found something to be said for both sides…but not in this case. Balko found a Dr. in Mississipi who illustrates massive failures in the criminal justice infrastructure in Miss, and whose testimony may be leading to large numbers of unjust convictions. The story stands alone, why does it matter that there is a particular case that lead Balko to this story? Balko was clearly trying to avoid making any specific case the focus of the story, probably because it makes the point of the breadth of the failures of the system better by not focusing on any one case. And as he points out in his response, Maye was not the Dr’s most egregious failure.

    On this, and on the Wheeler issue, you’ve written a ton of words that seem to have come from the following thought process:

    “Oh, something in the WSJ by Balko. Bet its another screed against cop raids, or Cory Maye again. What? A whole article and he didn’t bring up Maye? He’s trying to hide the connection.” And then you rushed ahead without stopping to realize how minor the issue is. Wheeler is the same way. As you note, you put about 5 lines in your post saying something to the affect of “now sure, maybe Wheeler is still a strong argument for Maye…”, well then why bother?

    As I said, I read both blogs regularly, and I enjoy both, but P seems way off base on these criticisms. I’d much rather hear P’s experiences about the role of medical examiners, and, like judge shopping, are their Defense/Prosecution Friendly MEs? Can autopsies be shopped?

    Lou W (2e19cf)

  9. He should have declared the Maye connection; that’s Patterico’s point and I agree with it.

    Nonetheless, good reporting from Balko. I hope he corrects this oversight in future so as to remove this justifiable controversy and thereby strengthen his position with the intellectually honest.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  10. Another thing: why didn’t we get to hear from Patterico about how he stumbled upon Radley Balko and why Patterico dislikes him so much that he writes a two 5,000 word posts attacking him (posts that could have been summed up in about 25 words).

    From the impression that Patterico gives, he is ONLY motivated by truth, justice, and the American way. This gives him the false veneer of a neutral observer just correcting something in a WSJ Op-Ed.

    But THOSE OF US FAMILIAR with the situation know that Balko and Patterico have a long history with each other. Those of us who don’t may be mislead however.

    My speculation is that Patterico’s main reason for writing this piece is that he is a douchebag prosecutor who only can criticize his fellow prosecutors when white, rich LAX players are involved. He dislikes Balko always taking potshots at the police and prosecution, so he has systematically tried to find ways to discredit Balko.

    Dude (7676e6)

  11. If there’s any discrediting done here, it’s Balko who’s done it to himself.

    That’s unfortunate, as he may have a very strong case against Hayne. Problem is, if he left out the Hayne connexion to Cory Maye, as he did, any reasonable reader (as opposed to some of cop-haters that come Balko’s way out of the dope-user/dealer community) has to ask himself what else did Radley leave out?

    And, since most of what I know about the Cory Maye case comes from Radley Balko, what did he leave out of that story?

    Now, if you just hate cops and prosecutors and have the 14-year-old-Ayn-Rand-fan belief in letting ever’body just do his own thing, you might not see anything wrong with that. The end justifies the means.

    If you’ve lived in the real world where bad people (a few of whom are cops and prosecutors, sure) regularly happen to good people, the whole utopian libertarian ideal seems childish. It’s a belief that a person can only hold if he has the base of Maslow’s needs pyramid taken care of. Cf. 14 year olds in Mom’s basement. Which is pretty unbecoming when they’ve been trapped at 14 for thirty or forty years.

    Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien (88bf29)

  12. Dude #10,

    You’re way out of line. I admire a lot of what Radley does but why does an activist piece against a medical examiner deserve more deference than an activist piece for the legalization of all drugs? Radley was able to respond to Patterico without resorting to name-calling and so can you.

    nk (7d4710)

  13. nk:

    I think Dude was pointing out that Patterico, by not disclosing the entire case (and spending about 2x the amount of original characters on his point than Balko had to work with in the WSJ), did exactly what he’s accusing Balko of. (Despite having no space limitation, and no reason not to.)

    I’m disappointed in P, going for the personal attack, while downplaying the facts that Balko is uncovering – facts that are incredibly stunning. 1500 autopsies a year, and putting people in jail, and to death?

    Maye’s a big case – but it seems like this is a much bigger one.

    So, I suppose the question we need to ask P is, how much disclaimer is enough? How far back in history do we have to go, in order to be “fair”? Can we mention Kathryn Johnson, or do we have to link to the video of the 70-year-old gunman, so people know our biases?

    How much disclaimer does he want for the average journalist? I’d agree more would be a large improvement – but at some point, realistically, you’ll end up with the LA Times full of disclaimer, with no news, for example.

    Hey, if that’s his case, it’s a lot better one than the attack on Balko here.

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  14. Frequent reader of both, and I have vague memories of the previous [insert your choice of adjective here] contest.

    Why is it that Balko can’t be offended at the doctor’s behavior because of the doctor’s behavior, and that he must be offended because Maye is involved?

    I think your mindreader needs a checkup. Meanwhile, I’m putting away my ruler, and my pots are all in the dishwasher.

    htom (412a17)

  15. I have to agree with nk once again that Dude is on point with the first three paragraphs of his comment.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  16. Correction: I was agreeing with Unix-Jedi, not nk. And htom has a very good point as well.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  17. Why is it that Balko can’t be offended at the doctor’s behavior because of the doctor’s behavior, and that he must be offended because Maye is involved?

    OK, let’s assume that’s entirely true.

    The disclosure still should have been made.

    Why did I spend so many words on it? Quite frankly, because I knew he would respond angrily and send a bunch of angry commenters here — so I felt it necessary to be *crystal clear* about what I was and was not alleging; about the fact that it could be an editor’s fault; about why it matters (even though it’s obvious); about why the evidence shows a connection in Balko’s mind; about how I am NOT saying that the op-ed is wrong; etc. etc. etc.

    If I hadn’t spent so much space on these issues, then I wouldn’t be able to say that I already addressed these issues. It’s my history with him that made me take the space.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  18. And htom has a very good point as well.

    Even if his point is correct, it doesn’t eliminate the need for disclosure.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  19. I’m disappointed in P, going for the personal attack, while downplaying the facts that Balko is uncovering – facts that are incredibly stunning. 1500 autopsies a year, and putting people in jail, and to death?

    Please quote the portion of any post that is a “personal attack.”

    The disclosure could have been handled in a single sentence. “Full disclosure: Dr. Hayne also testified against Cory Maye, whose innocence I have advocated.” Something like that.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  20. Apparently Patterico’s bias is that he likes medical examiners that will support his charges regardless of what the facts are. Here’s to hoping that one day you find yourself on the receiving end of a Nifong.

    Rex (18123d)

  21. Dude is a comment spammer (literally — he does it for a living) who has spammed these threads before. Small wonder that spam comments are starting to fill up the threads. It’s “Dude” doing it.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  22. P@18, I think the disclosure would have been better because it would eliminate this argument.

    But Dude’s point about about you (inadvertently I’m sure) making the exact same omission as you pointed out that Balko made doesn’t help your position.

    You’re also not limited to number of characters to make your point, but Balko was. I don’t think that is the reason he didn’t make disclosure… but even that excuse is one not available to you.

    The most important point is Balko’s op-ed itself: true or false?

    Everything else is trivial by comparison.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  23. P @ 23, who would have thought a comment spammer (hate the scum) would make a good point.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  24. P @ 21, sorry

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  25. OK, I can include an update to that effect, although 1) I’ve linked his response, which makes the point, and 2) it’s now referenced in the comments, and 3) I didn’t think it necessary *in the blog context* to make it because everyone reading our blogs knows it. (I’d reference past battles if writing a piece about in the WSJ! It’s not the *same* thing.)

    No matter. I will update when I can. I’m at the daughter’s soccer practice now and can’t do the update now due to the Treo’s limitations in what it can accept in text. I would cut off most of the post if I tried.

    I may delete Dude’s comment if he continues to try to punish me by filling the site with spam, as he has done in the past when Balko has gotten him angry at me.

    Patterico (d30033)

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

    That’s a personal attack in my estimation.

    You don’t know his “Main Reason”.

    Cory Maye is the only reason Balko ever became interested in Steven Hayne.

    Which implies that it’s the only reason he would have.

    Balko’s interest in Dr. Hayne is wholly due to the fact that Dr. Hayne testified against Maye.

    Yes, I’m sure you won’t see that as a personal attack, either. To which I can only say “OK, well, I tried.” Despite your factual correctness, Balko’s won this game, set, match in tone and collegiality. Should he have disclosed his Maye case?

    Well, sure, maybe he should have. And what happens when his investigation (and outrageous discoveries – that seem to be being ignored by your counterparts in Mississippi) is discounted as “only being because of the Maye case?”

    What if he’s now chasing an entirely new thread, uncovered by Maye?
    Would you agree to the same disclosure and handicapping as you investigate crimes and uncover more crimes, conspirators, conspiracies? (That only the first could be investigated, and the rest discounted?)
    What of all the other people – besides Maye – who have (allegedly) been the victim of the justice system? Are they to be ignored until someone else with no track record appears? Can journalists only write 1 story on any subject?

    But most importantly: How far much he (and others), disclose? You didn’t feel the need to disclose your prior tiffs – despite “that being the sole reason you’re attacking Balko’s credibility and investigation now”. (My quote, using your structure.) Sure seems like I’d be attacking you personally (as in, you, your motives, and not your message or investigation), doesn’t it?

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  27. point about about you (inadvertently I’m sure) making the exact same omission

    If the host has a public “running” feud with Balko then “disclosure” is not an issue.

    If Balko publicly derides Dr Hayne’s credibility absent (public) context wrt conflict of interest, that is a relevant criticism.

    boris (ad3d7f)

  28. Fair enough, P, and thanks for the promised update; it’s the right thing to do in this case because of the specifics of your criticism.

    Remember, you gain and lose readers and your site also shows up in the search engines. There’s no guarantee everyone here knows the history between Balko and yourself.

    I take breaks from reading blogs depending on what’s going on in my life and don’t read every post you write because some topics interest me more than others.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  29. Unix-Jedi, I don’t know who you are, but you make some strong arguments. It’s overstepping to say that that’s Balko’s “whole” reason. I admit I know nothing about Maye, but the op-ed on Hayne interests me.

    So while Maye may have brought Hayne to Balko’s attention, the Maye intersection is probably not the limit of his interest.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  30. Frankly, I think my need to disclose the past feud with Balko is about on the same level as Christoph’s need to disclose that he and I have “feuded” before — or that virtually all the Balko supporters here have attacked me before on other issues. In the blog context it’s silly.

    That doesn’t mean that a hidden agenda shouldn’t be disclosed in a major media piece, whose readers (unlike you guys) are unfamiliar with the alleged hidden agenda.

    Again, I’ll update within an hour, even though it’s mostly unnecessary given Balko’s linked response and these comments.

    As for the idea that it’s an “attack,” all I can say is that everything that constitutes the alleged “attack” is a set of facts I *had to lay out* to show why disclosure was necessary.

    Read the post again and see how I was careful not to accuse Balko of doing this deliberately, or to bring up his history of past inaccuracies (which is, by the way, the main reason I didn’t disclose the past feuds, because most of them involved factual errors by him, and I was trying to be polite).

    Patterico (64070b)

  31. You don’t know his “Main Reason”</blockquote>

    Implies some standard of proof that cannot be met without a specific confession.

    The “evidence” is that Balko has indeed taken on Dr. Hayne for that reason. Quibbling over words like main or only is just hypersensitive victimology.

    boris (ad3d7f)

  32. Unfortunate use of format buttons.

    boris (ad3d7f)

  33. Patterico, if you have any way of finding Dude’s identity, I would urge you to sue him. I’m sure there are grounds and, if not, you can write up site T.O.S. in such a way that his behavior is prohibited and if he persists, to then give you grounds to sue for damages plus punitive.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  34. Wait. “Whole” reason? Please say for what.

    I’m on a Treo and can’t check easily, but I very much doubt I said Maye was the “whole” reason Balko wrote the piece. I probably said it was the “whole” reason he learned about him and first became interested in him. Subsequently, as I said, he no doubt had concurrent motivations, as he learned more about the guy.

    But I’ll check and see. Christoph, I ask only that you be very careful in quoting and characterizing me on this. I don’t want to start any new and unnecessary fights based on misrepresentations of my position.

    Patterico (390b85)

  35. Patterico, your point in 30 is well taken, but the point is because of what you’re criticizing Balko for, you needed to take the extra step to make sure you’re purer than Caesar’s wife on the post criticizing him for that.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  36. Verbatim quote, Patterico:

    “Balko’s interest in Dr. Hayne is 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…”

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  37. I haven’t read Patterico’s entire response yet to Balko, but I’ll make this first quick point.

    Balko’s an idiot for claiming that if he wanted to influence the Maye case, he would have mentioned it in his take-down of Dr. Hayne.

    Balko completely ignores/obfuscates the critical notion of witness/advocate “bias” when proffering information.

    Balko is biased — and I use that word not perjoratively, but simply to reflect that he favors one side over another in a dispute — in favor of Maye, and Dr. Hayne is on the other side.

    So, to write a take-down of Dr. Hayne, even one that has nothing to do with Maye’s case, and to not mention his bias while doing so, deprives the reader of a context through which to evaluate the information that Balko offers.

    Now that his bias is exposed, and he acknowledges willfully having omitted it, Balkos’ credibility takes a hit.

    I might have more to say after reading more.

    But I may join Patterico in Fisking this guy on a regular basis.

    wls (fb8809)

  38. I came here via digg: WSJ (Balko) and a quick google afterwards. Otherwise I know nothing.

    But if this is the only response that this blogs author has against the mentioned accusations against the doctor, I am happy not to live in Mississippi. No justice to find in this state obviously.

    aaron (acf496)

  39. Why exactly does Balko’s piece on Haynes not mention the Maye case? I find that suggestive.

    But probably more interesting is the way that no critic of Patterico actually bothers to address the substance of Patterico’s point.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  40. That Balko’s interest is “wholly due” to the Maye linkage is more defensible than “whole reason” for Balko writing the article.

    Without the existence of Maye linkage would there have been any awareness of other reasons for writing? Interest because of Maye led to attention and development of alternate attacks on credibility made public without disclosure of the motivation.

    It’s a fair cop.

    boris (ad3d7f)

  41. Aaron, you have not read Patterico’s posts obviously.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  42. Patterico:

    That doesn’t mean that a hidden agenda shouldn’t be disclosed in a major media piece, whose readers (unlike you guys) are unfamiliar with the alleged hidden agenda.

    Please prove that there is a “hidden agenda”.
    Not imply, but prove.

    That’s my problem with your insistence that no, you didn’t say [what most of us understood you to say]. (Very similar to the Johnson case, where what you said you said were completely at odds with what I, and many others, were seeing you say.)

    Ok, so you don’t see the need to disclaim the “only reason” you went after Balko’s apparently earth-shattering discovery of some serious criminal justice issues in Mississippi – while lambasting Balko for not disclosing the “only reason”.

    Could you please explain to me how any and all hidden agendas – (including yours!) can be disclosed and disclaimed, and how far back they need to be disclosed.
    Or, why it would be unfair to impute to you the same hidden agendas you’re imputing to others.

    I read the case about Haynes, and I want to know why the prosecutors aren’t doing their job. Why are the “layers of protection”, well, protecting and investigating?
    So here you are, a prosecutor, defending a court “expert” who’s been roundly and often impeached, but yet has been relied upon to imprison and execute defendants.

    I really don’t think you’re doing this to lockstep protect the prosecutors.
    But surely you could see that someone could make that exact same attack upon you, based on the same circumstantial evidence? This is your attempt to hush up the problems in the system, to deny that there are people railroaded, and the system doesn’t always work to ensure justice? That convicting the defendant is more important than the true crime, the facts of the case, or the truth?

    I guess I’m just disappointed that you’re going after Balko for “failing” to disclose something that he considers as unimportant as you do with your Christoph past. So you can think it’s unimportant, it’s no big deal, but it’s a Cardinal Sin for Balko to think similarly – or worse, to not admit to a hidden agenda that I suspect he’ll dispute he’s hiding.

    I can see that you’ve got a good point, and Balko might should have mentioned it. But it’s not a for certain thing, Even if (and I’d love to know how) you can prove there’s a “hidden agenda”. Disclaimers in my mind need to be when there’s a personal stake. Haynes testified against Balko once. Or tossed his dad in jail. Sure, needs to be disclosed. But came to attention with one case that Balko feels strongly about? Not quite a slam dunk. Much more of an opinion call. You disagree, I understand, and you have a point. But 3 posts, the attacks on the messenger (but disclaiming any knowledge or discussion on the message)?

    Especially when Balko has uncovered what appears to be a huge gaping flaw, for whatever reasons, and is (allegedly) demonstrating that the checks and balances in the justice system aren’t checking or balancing. So Haynes came to his attention via the Maye debacle. Ok, so does that mean that his case against Haynes is in any way incorrect?

    If you’re investigating a stolen car, and you found a messily dead body, are you seriously saying that you can’t investigate the homicide, since you started off with a ‘mere’ car theft? (I’m sure (at least, I damn sure hope so) you’ll say “No, of course not”, but it certainly appears that that’s your standard you’re promoting here.)

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  43. aaron, Patterico can be more-than-the-norm pedantic (I thought I was, and he is more so), but it’s because he’s thorough.

    When he makes a mistake, he’ll defend his position until the point is proven, then he’ll change it and acknowledge it too.

    I often debate him and he has changed my mind just as (less often) I’ve changed his. One of the main reasons I return to this site is I consider him to be above average in honesty and intellectual rigor. I wouldn’t worry too much about justice as applied by him in his work.

    He’s a decent guy, just wrong on occasion. And no more than average to be sure.

    It was wrong of Patterico to use the word “wholly” and an oversight not to mention his history with Balko for the benefit of people like yourself who don’t know the history. I still agree with his main point. It would have been better had Balko declared his history with Haynes. Not doing so diminished Balko’s credibility in many people’s eyes.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  44. I really don’t see it.

    Balko has a visceral dislike for unjust prosecution and ham-fisted local authorities, particularly with respect to the drug war, not that this bears directly here. Fine. Everyone has their pet peeves,and bloggers are, if anything, diligent in pursuing their pet peeves.

    I find it totally in character for Balko to be appalled by Dr. Hayne, no matter how he ran across him. Will it help Maye? Sure, but even if it didn’t Balko would be doing and saying the same thing if his portrayal of Hayne is accurate.

    Does he have a bias? Sure. He’s an effing blogger! D’oh! Does he have to include some ritual statement of all his biases in every outside publication? Doubtful. Is it misleading for him to write an op-ed that touches on another pet case of his without mentioning it? Also doubtful. Most everyone would be in hot water if that kind of disclosure was the rule.

    In short: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  45. Basically, Unix-Jedi, you’re making htom’s point in comment 14, and even though Patterico may be right, is probably right… that that is a huge part of Balko’s interest, there’s certainly no reason to believe he has no other interest in Hayne’s behavior.

    Proof, Patterico? It’s dead simple. Balko wrote the entire op-ed without mentioning Maye (as he should have for disclosure), yet hundreds of thousands of people will still find it interesting… proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that people, and I assume this means Balko too, will find more interesting about Hayne than his testimony in the Maye trial.

    I don’t think you have any valid argument against that.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  46. Oh, and just as an aside… I’d be far more critical of Balko on a day-to-day basis.

    If, that was, he had a comment section.

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  47. Balko is biased — and I use that word not perjoratively, but simply to reflect that he favors one side over another in a dispute — in favor of Maye, and Dr. Hayne is on the other side.

    So, to write a take-down of Dr. Hayne, even one that has nothing to do with Maye’s case, and to not mention his bias while doing so, deprives the reader of a context through which to evaluate the information that Balko offers.

    Um, it was on the “op-ed” page of the WSJ. That’s a pretty good indicator that the piece is not straight news, but rather, a piece of advocacy.

    Likewise with the fact that the longer article appeared in reason, a libertarian monthly. You know an article in reason is coming from a certain perspective, just as with an article from National Review or Mother Jones.

    I’m still wondering how Patterico can read that article and, as an officer of the court, his only public reaction to it is to malign me for not mentioning Cory Maye. No outrage that this guy is a regular prosecution witness, or that his peers and colleagues are concerned that he may have sent innocent people to jail. No concern from Patterico that his fellow prosecutors may be tainting the integrity of homicide cases in Mississippi.

    No, the only thing that bothers Patterico about this article enough to merit a blog post is that I didn’t disclose that I uncovered the story while writing about another case.

    It’s also telling that Patterico didn’t even bother to read the longer version of the article from the magazine before reading my mind and concluding that my surreptitious agenda for Cory was the “main reason” I wrote it, and that my interest in Hayne is “wholly due to the fact that Hayne testified against Maye.”

    You knew there was a longer version of the article, Patterico. Why not read it, and learn all you can about the story before jumping to conclusions? Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, despite the fact that Cory’s case led me to Dr. Hayne, I concluded that the Dr. Hayne saga was much, much bigger than Cory’s case?

    And isn’t jumping to conclusions before having all the facts exactly what you criticized me for in the Kathryn Johnston case?

    (I’d note here that you also drew conclusions about Ms. Johnston before knowing all the facts. And you were wrong there, too. I was right.)

    So let me ask: What do you think of the article? Does it bother you at all? Are you the least bit concerned about what’s happening in Mississippi? Or are you so preoccupied with discrediting me that you can’t move beyond trying to divine what motivated me to write it?

    Read the full version in reason. If you could get beyond your obsession with undermining my credibility, your experience and expertise as a prosecutor would make you an important contributor to the public discussion about Dr. Hayne.

    Radley Balko (68b635)

  48. Balko, your retort to Patterico is strong.

    But… and it’s huge… I’d have more respect for you if you opened up your blog to comments like Unix-Jedi said.

    Once in a while you’d have your butt handed to you so-to-speak, but the overall quality of your arguments would be better for it.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  49. Christoph —

    I disabled comments a couple of years ago because I didn’t have time to keep policing for trolls, banning repeat offenders, and deleting spam.

    I’m hoping to move to a new design in a few months, which (I hope) will include comments with a Digg-style self policing system, where commenters can mod other comments up and down. That would enable people to leave feedback, but require much less maintenance on my end.

    Radley Balko (68b635)

  50. Um, it was on the “op-ed” page of the WSJ. That’s a pretty good indicator that the piece is not straight news, but rather, a piece of advocacy.

    “Um,” op-ed pages have disclosure policies, too. WSJ’s requires that there be no hidden agendas. Even if we give you the benefit of the doubt as why you didn’t disclose the Maye connection, it’s a potential hidden agenda that should have been disclosed.

    I am not going to make up my mind about Dr. Hayne after reading a piece by someone with an agenda to discredit him. I can easily see some potential counterarguments to what you wrote, and if I have time I may write a post laying those out. But I don’t have months to dig into the potential other side, and quite frankly, I don’t trust you to present the other side even if there is one.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  51. Good luck. As a blogger who runs a couple small sites with a tiny target audience, I still get spam comments and they are the bane of human existence. Patterico and yourself can agree on this!

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  52. Patterico, I admit to NOT understanding the finer points of forensic medicine. That’s my disclosure.

    But if the National Association of Medical Examiners will not certify a practitioner who completes in excess of 325 autopsies a year, can you give me a hint about what one potential counterargument on maintaining quality and accuracy would be for someone who does 1500-1800 per year would look like? Since that’s mostly an intellectual exercise, it will not require months worth of research.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  53. I’d have to research the issue further to know how long a thorough autopsy should take. The National Association of Bloggers might argue that bloggers should not be certified if they do in excess of 325 posts per year — but Instapundit seems to do pretty well, even given his amazing volume.

    I can tell you this: as a prosecutor, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with the issue whether it’s valid or not. So I would certainly prefer to see any medical examiner I called to the stand to be within the guidelines, whether the guidelines are too restrictive or not.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  54. Not to mention having passed the test.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  55. P @ 53… since the National Association of Medical Examiners represents the interests of Medical Examiners, I’m certain they would not be allowed by their members to unduly restrict the members’ income… it strikes me as a stretch to think they would underestimate by a factor of 5.5 the amount of work their members are capable of doing in a year.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  56. Unix-Jedi,

    So here you are, a prosecutor, defending a court “expert” who’s been roundly and often impeached, but yet has been relied upon to imprison and execute defendants.

    Another misreading. How in the hell am I defending this guy? I’ll say it again: I have no idea whether the allegations against Dr. Hayne are correct or not. In the libertarians’ minds, that gets twisted into a defense, simply because I make a point — which you acknowledge is a valid one — about disclosure.

    And it’s not three posts about the lack of disclosure. I did one. I did a companion post — on something I noticed months ago, by the way, but which I didn’t blog precisely because I didn’t want to get involved in another pissing contest — on a related inaccuracy. And the third post simply responds to his attack on me.

    Finally, you say: “Balko’s won this game, set, match in tone and collegiality.”

    Wow. So, Unix-Jedi, I suppose I can now call your comments “complete bullshit” and you “foolish and obsessive” without offending you — because that sort of rhetoric (used by Balko in his post about me) meets your standards for tone and collegiality.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  57. Some comments, including Mr. Balko’s, have attempted to change this debate to whether Hayne is a competent medical examiner. However, Patterico didn’t post on that topic.

    I agree the Hayne matter is important but media disclosure rules are also important. We don’t all live in Mississippi so most of our information about this case will come from print or other media sources. It’s important to know the established rules of journalism – including disclosure rules – have been followed because that helps ensure we get reliable information.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  58. On the other hand… the Canadian Association of Pathologists says a typical autopsy takes one to three hours and this pathologist in New York says they average a couple hours… so what do I know?

    I’d be more confident in Hayne had he passed the American Board of Pathology exam.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  59. you can make a living as a comment spammer??

    assistant devil's advocate (14b53d)

  60. “Some comments, including Mr. Balko’s, have attempted to change this debate to whether Hayne is a competent medical examiner. However, Patterico didn’t post on that topic.”

    DRJ, he didn’t post on that topic, although that topic is indeed a lot more interesting to most people.

    Some commentators did point out Patterico’s use of “wholly” was inappropriate. One of those who cast doubt on whether that was wise or intended…

    … was Patterico.

    A commentator pointed out Patterico didn’t give the same type of disclosure he accused Balko of not giving. Again, a commentator who mentioned this should be corrected was Patterico.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  61. I have to agree with Balko here (#47). The facts he lists about Dr. Hayne seem incredibly damming to justice in Mississippi. And they are checkable facts on things the doctor has done and testified to, so we don’t have to take Balko’s possibly biased word for it, the charges can be tested against the record. And what is Patterico’s whole reaction to these seemingly outrageous actions by an M.E. to possibly put innocent people in jail? He is upset that Balko didn’t mention in his article that he initially became familiar with Dr. Hayne in the Maye case.

    Patterico, I repeat my earlier request (#7), say something useful about this case for me. Is it as outrageous as it appears on the surface for an M.E. to claim he can tell when a bullet was fired with 2 fingers pulling the trigger? Did Dr. Haynes actually testify to this and is there an explanatory context that Balko did not mention? Your last series of posts seem much more interested in bickering with Balko then learning or telling us anything about the issues Balko raises and are making this blog look more like therapy for you to work out your grudges than a place for meaningful posts on how justice is administered in America.

    Counterfactual (3a9a56)

  62. “Balko’s interest in Dr. Hayne is 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…”

    Thanks for that quote, which (when given in full context) proves that I was right when I said:

    I probably said it was the “whole” reason he learned about him and first became interested in him.

    It would have been clearer to say “initial interest” — but that point is made clear by the context of the next sentence.

    I knew when I wrote about Balko that every single word of mine would be picked apart, so I tried to write as carefully as possible. I can’t match the collegiality of “complete bullshit” or “foolish and obsessive” but anyone who gives my post a fair reading will see I was careful to be pointed but restrained.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  63. Did Dr. Haynes actually testify to this and is there an explanatory context that Balko did not mention?

    My reading of the case is that there may be a context that makes the testimony, if not entirely defensible, then at least not quite as portrayed. The problem is that not enough of the trial transcript is included to make a judgment. Enough is included to leave a hint that a fuller context may exist.

    Again, I may post about this if I get time, but I have a lot of other things to do as well.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  64. You were truly restrained in terms of rhetoric. I’m sure you wanted to open a debate and you’ve done so.

    But if you’re going to bypass the huge issues Balko raised as too time consuming to instead focus on what you feel is a missing one sentence disclosure in an op-ed, you can’t be terribly surprised when others pull apart your words.

    Shorter Patterico: “I didn’t mean ‘wholly’. I acknowledge there are other interesting points, some of which would clearly interest Balko aside from Hayne’s connection with Maye, someone Balko feels strongly about.”

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  65. Let’s take this out of the personalities at issue here.

    Should the LA Times have disclosed what Tom Rooney did for a living?

    The LA Times did disclose Rooney’s job, by the way, which wasn’t really the point of Patterico’s post there. It was this:

    P.S. I know, I know. Maybe old sewer pipes are a real problem. But here’s the thing: if the editors truly felt this was a critical issue, couldn’t they have found someone a little more dispassionate to write about it?

    It seems to me that a lot of folks who are commenting in this thread will read that entry and demand to know, “PATTERICO, WHY DO YOU WANT SEWER PIPES TO COLLAPSE? HOW CAN YOU BE SO HEARTLESS?”

    And if Patterico had bothered to explain at great length that no, he didn’t want sewer pipes to collapse, they would have said “why is this entry so frickin’ long? Tom Rooney didn’t have that much room to write!”

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I used to, and occasionally still, guest blog here.

    See Dubya (d4aa96)

  66. Oh, and my real name is Steven Hayne and I’m a medical examiner in Mississippi. Should I have disclosed that fact in my last comment?

    See Dubya (d4aa96)

  67. Christoph, as much of an ass as you often are, you may have a point. I meant “initial interest” (as I thought the next sentence made clear) but I obviously could have written it more clearly. Again, as I said, I knew every word would be picked apart, because it’s Balko.

    I will add the word “initial,” change the verb tense, and update the post to explain what I have done.

    I will do this because it’s the right thing to do, even though I know you’ll gloat about it. Do me a favor and try to limit your gloating to only one comment, okay?

    Patterico (bad89b)

  68. FULL DISCLOSURE: Some parts of comment #66 may or may not be entirely accurate.

    See Dubya (d4aa96)

  69. Actually, it’s rude to say you can be an ass. Let me be more collegial. Sometimes your comments are complete bullshit, and make you look foolish and obsessive.

    We do want to keep Unix-Jedi happy with my tone.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  70. I don’t think that a “ritual statement of all his biases” as Kevin Murphy puts it is at issue. Such a statement pretends that Patterico is claiming that every piece by Balko should have a long list of disclosures. What is at issue, and everyone criticizing Patterico without exception is ignoring ( even when telling Patterico what he should be writing about …), is that in this instance Balko has had a long running advocacy in favor of Maye and Haynes is involved. And that advocacy is probably unknown to many of the piece’s readers.

    So such a note is relevant to the specific piece and is omitted.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  71. You can be a jerk, Patterico (like now). I’m not “gloating”. I’m supporting a position other than your own.

    I’m more interested in the issues Balko raised, which are vastly more important than the legitimate issue you raised. What I’m going to write next isn’t a response to your ‘ass’ comment, it was something that occurred to me a few minutes ago while doing something else.

    You say it may take you too long to research the counterarguments Balko raises. That’s fine to a point, but it’s completely inadequate in another point.

    You owe it to yourself as a professional prosecutor to find an answer to what is a reasonable number of autopsies that can be performed within a year. Otherwise, a defense lawyer (say one who reads this blog) could roast your witness on the stand with that and you would have no rebuttal.

    Likewise, if the actual number is 1500 or so and the 250 figure is just in a perfect world, but not realistic nor widely practiced, then you can respond intelligently. Further, having this knowledge would give you a question to ask your witness pre-trial so you could sort your pathologist between: 1.) doing a reasonable amount of work so could, at least in theory, have been thorough; and 2.) money-grubbing huckster; no-way I can trust these results.

    Surely someone in your office has this knowledge if you ask around and, if not, you can find out?

    Because you should find out. And if pointing this out to you makes me an ass, so be it.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  72. Nah, it’s a good point. It’s never come up before, and I assume that L.A. County Medical Examiners are within the guidelines. But now that I’m aware of the issue, it is something I’ll ask medical examiners about in the future.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  73. But, frankly, I don’t have months to research Dr. Hayne. I don’t do this for a living, and in addition to family responsibilities, I actually have a decent amount of real work to do on this holiday weekend.

    I’ve seen Balko presented slanted versions of facts enough times that I’m simply not going to make up my mind about someone based on his word. Take the “uniformed officers” bit. Amazingly, when I call him on it, he admits that the victim wasn’t uniformed as he claimed, but says that Wheeler was fighting with three other officers who were uniformed. Except that he’s still wrong. It was two other uniformed officers, and one who (like the victim) was dressed in “civilian clothes.”

    That’s per the opinion.

    I found out about that months ago, after reading a post in which he angrily decried the trial judge for not granting a new trial based on Wheeler. So I read the trial judge’s opinion — and saw that, contrary to Balko, the trial judge claimed (I’m paraphrasing from memory, don’t hold me to it) that the victim in Wheeler was not in uniform. “But Balko said she was,” I thought. “I wonder who’s right?” So I read Wheeler — and found that the trial judge was right.

    Balko’s consistent position tends to be: as long as I’m right about the big picture, it’s OK for me to misstate facts to support my argument — and it’s picky of you to point out my misstatements.

    I don’t trust someone with that attitude. How do I know when he’s being thorough, and when he’s misremembering facts because of his bias? We all make mistakes, but when you make them even after being called on it, and take the attitude that accuracy on little details is unimportant, it doesn’t help your credibility.

    Maybe his pieces on Hayne will push the issue into the mainstream, where reporters I trust more will flesh the issue out. Meanwhile, I find it a little scary that state Supreme Court justices are quoting his articles.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  74. Patterico:

    Of course you could.
    And I could simply point out that you’re pulling quotes from context, and then twisting them. By pointing someone doubting which of us to “trust” to this discussion.

    You quoted me: So here you are, a prosecutor, defending a court “expert” who’s been roundly and often impeached, but yet has been relied upon to imprison and execute defendants.

    You said: How in the hell am I defending this guy?

    OK, so what comes right after that? The very next sentance, in fact?

    I really don’t think you’re doing this to lockstep protect the prosecutors.
    But surely you could see that someone could make that exact same attack upon you, based on the same circumstantial evidence? This is your attempt to hush up the problems in the system, to deny that there are people railroaded, and the system doesn’t always work to ensure justice? That convicting the defendant is more important than the true crime, the facts of the case, or the truth?

    I don’t know how much more plain my context and hypothetical could be set up and explained, that I did not say to you what you said I did, and then you set on fire with a strawman argument. (And then complained of others “twisting”.

    Can you then continue to insult me, and deride my opinion?

    Well, yes, you can, but I think you’re proving my point better than I tried to do.

    Because I can right there – point out that I already said the opposite, and you ignored that to attack a strawman.

    Back to quoting you: simply because I make a point — which you acknowledge is a valid one — about disclosure.

    Actually, I admitted it may be a valid one. Worthy of discussion. Not slam dunk, obviously you’re right. You’ve got a point. Same point you had when you didn’t provide the past history. That you, after consideration, decided was needed. Balko, after consideration, still thinks is not needed. But you’re investing a lot into (apparently) attacking the messenger, while claiming ignorance of the (what to me is the important part, the message.)

    I have no idea whether the allegations against Dr. Hayne are correct or not.
    ….

    Patterico, perhaps you misunderstand me. I did note that it odd that you’re doing what you’re objecting to others doing.
    (Which you continued with your answer to me, by taking what I said out of context, and ignoring my point.)

    Ok, so forget my attempts to point out that what you say you’re trying to say aren’t being correctly conveyed/interpreted. Water under the bridge and all of that.

    So, going forward, how far back should disclosures go? I’ve asked that several times. If Balko believes a disclosure isn’t required, such as in this case, who should be the deciding party? Who gets to write the disclaimer? How far removed must one be? Is there a time limit?

    Again: If you took the subject and transposed it to your line of work, would you still agree that your (apparent) guidelines (and outrage) are appropriate?

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  75. Did Dr. Haynes actually testify to this and is there an explanatory context that Balko did not mention?

    My reading of the case is that there may be a context that makes the testimony, if not entirely defensible, then at least not quite as portrayed.

    My reading of Radley’s OpEd is that he was reporting what the Miss. Supreme Court said in the opinion, not on what the complete transcript says. The case, on page 4 and 5 reflects that what Radley Balko wrote in his OpEd is an accurate rendition. The only addition that Radley might have made is that the Court found the idea that a bullet hole can tell one how many people pulled the trigger was “scientifically unfounded”. Frankly, I would not have expected any other journalist to report the Court’s reaction to Hayne’s testimony any differently.

    Radley’s OpEd seems well supported by evidence and reports from both those within the system and without it. So, is it being suggested here that Radley, in an act of overzealous advocacy, is misrepresenting the statements of Hayne’s fellow ME’s and forensic pathologists, including a member of the ethics board for ME’s, a police chief and others? Is it being suggested that he is trying to hide these misrepresentations by “hiding” his prior work and opinions regarding Corey Maye?

    Jerri Lynn Ward (bf2d8c)

  76. “Meanwhile, I find it a little scary that state Supreme Court justices are quoting his articles.”

    Then write an op-ed for the WSJ and get it published. Personally, I’m not surprised judges read the paper.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  77. Jerri Lynn Ward,

    What is being suggested is what I wrote in my posts.

    The answers to your questions are in them. I won’t repeat myself in comments.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  78. Then write an op-ed for the WSJ and get it published. Personally, I’m not surprised judges read the paper.

    Personally, I’m not surprised that judges read the WSJ. Personally, I’m not even surprised that they read Reason, which is the publication they quoted.

    Personally, I *am* surprised that they are quoting a biased journalist in a court opinion. That’s a very different issue, so don’t conflate the issues. Just as I was appalled when a California judge wrote an opinion suggesting lethal injection was unconstitutional — and then quoted articles from the highly biased Henry Weinstein of the L.A. Times.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  79. I’ve seen Balko presented slanted versions of facts enough times that I’m simply not going to make up my mind about someone based on his word.

    Shouldn’t you have disclaimed this initially?!?
    How can we believe you since you didn’t?
    (Ok, sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

    And I agree with you, by the way. Balko’s sometimes been (very) sloppy with the facts. But I’ve noticed him getting better as he’s gaining experience and picking up an audience.

    But what is our baseline? Balko’s track record far exceeds most print and broadcast journalists (In my opinion, of course). I’m willing to read that article about Haynes, and say “there appears to be a very large problem here.” With the same grain of salt I’d take with any report. (At least I think so.)

    Balko’s doing some incredibly good work – and again – I agree with you he’d do better correcting mistakes as they’re pointing out, instead of digging in his heels and being obstinate….

    Wait. Isn’t Alanis in LA now? Are you trying to explain “irony” to her?

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  80. I’m not sure about how I feel about judges quoting opinion pieces. It depends on the context. Are they using it as a definitive basis for their judgment or an example of the type of reasoning they are using to elucidate their opinion for those reading it?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  81. Unix-Jedi,

    When I read this:

    I read the case about Haynes, and I want to know why the prosecutors aren’t doing their job. Why are the “layers of protection”, well, protecting and investigating?
    So here you are, a prosecutor, defending a court “expert” who’s been roundly and often impeached, but yet has been relied upon to imprison and execute defendants.

    I really don’t think you’re doing this to lockstep protect the prosecutors.
    But surely you could see that someone could make that exact same attack upon you, based on the same circumstantial evidence? This is your attempt to hush up the problems in the system, to deny that there are people railroaded, and the system doesn’t always work to ensure justice? That convicting the defendant is more important than the true crime, the facts of the case, or the truth?

    I interpret it as this:

    You are defending this expert. I don’t think the *reason* you’re defending him is to hush up bad facts about the system.

    To which my response is: I’m not even defending him at all to begin with.

    So I disagree that I have left out the context of your comment. But if you want to treat it as water under the bridge I’m willing to do so.

    You are correct as a general matter that the issue of disclosures can be taken to an extreme. My point is simply this: a journalist who is best known for advocating the innocence of a criminal defendant, who writes a piece attacking the credibility of a key witness against that defendant — to an audience consisting of many people unfamiliar with his advocacy of that defendant’s innocence — should make that disclosure.

    Present it to ten unbiased media ethicists and see what they say. I think you might be surprised.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  82. “Present it to ten unbiased media ethicists and see what they say. I think you might be surprised.”

    You think there are 10 unbiased media ethicists?

    Snicker, snicker.

     
     
     
     
     
    And it’s a joke. Calm down.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  83. Patterico said:

    What is being suggested is what I wrote in my posts.

    The answers to your questions are in them. I won’t repeat myself in comments.

    In your post, you said:

    Let me be clear: I’m not accusing Balko of omitting the information deliberately. I put that in bold because I expect he will claim that I am making that accusation, despite what I just said. So I want it crystal clear that I am not making the accusation.

    In a comment you said:

    Balko’s consistent position tends to be: as long as I’m right about the big picture, it’s OK for me to misstate facts to support my argument — and it’s picky of you to point out my misstatements.

    I’m a bit confused.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (bf2d8c)

  84. Jerri Lynn, full disclosure, I admitted up above I can be quite pedantic.

    Patterico can be even more so. I believe someone referred to him as a “pedant” and he often is. Which can be good if it means thorough.

    But don’t repeatedly drive home inconsistencies in Patterico’s statements proving he is, indeed, fallible and human.

    Eventually you’ll be called obsessive (I am somewhat in a debate until my point is made, then I generally say, “Thank you,” which Patterico calls gloating) and an ass. Or your comments are bullshit.

    And I certainly wouldn’t want him to say that.

    Hey, my one comment gloating was fun. Thanks for the invitation, P.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  85. It’s Radley who calls himself “The Agitator” and the sobriquet is not unearned. Were I to accept everything he writes uncritically, I would be on a rooftop in Cabrini Green with a sniper rifle.

    I like a lot of what he does as I have said before, I am very happy for him and for people who are interested in what he writes about that he has made the crossover to MSM, but I also like Patterico or anyone else checking on him.

    (As for the spammer that I first responded to, neither Patterico nor Radley have ever used that kind of language against each other and that was waht my comment was really aimed at.)

    nk (7d4710)

  86. Eventually you’ll be called obsessive (I am somewhat in a debate until my point is made, then I generally say, “Thank you,” which Patterico calls gloating) and an ass. Or your comments are bullshit.

    You do get the fact that I was referencing the language Balko used to describe me, right? (Language that Unix-Jedi called collegial.)

    Patterico (bad89b)

  87. I’m a bit confused.

    Yes, you are.

    I am talking about two entirely different issues.

    Read the top three posts on my site. Then re-read my comment. Maybe you’ll be less confused.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  88. Yes, you said that at the time.

    So, if I’m in an argument with you and someone uses colorful language to insult you, as long as I’m pointing out where I got the language from, you’d consider it respectful if I borrow that language to describe you?

    A few minutes after calling you an ass?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  89. P.S. And I have a lot more way big problems with capital defense lawyers in Mississippi who need Radley to bring down Dr. Hayne or Dentist Michael West.

    nk (7d4710)

  90. Unix-Jedi #74:

    If Balko believes a disclosure isn’t required, such as in this case, who should be the deciding party?

    Journalists are subject to the ethical rules of their profession. Here’s a link to the ethical rules set forth by the Society of Professional Journalists that require journalists to “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived” and to “disclose unavoidable conflicts.”

    Is Balko a journalist? If so, does his advocacy for Cory Maye give him a real or perceived conflict of interest with Hayne that he should disclose? I don’t know the answers to these questions with certainty but I think the common sense answer to each is “Yes.”

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  91. Why, nk? Doesn’t it simply matter what the truth is?

    Even Patterico doesn’t know. For example, he’s going to research a reasonable amount of autopsies per anum and doesn’t know what the answer to that is.

    Either Balko is right. Or wrong. If wrong, then the smear or bias against Hayne is reprehensible. But if he’s right, then taking him down is absolutely the right thing to do.

    Where am I going wrong?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  92. Christoph,

    I think you need to slow down. Please reread my comment. It was a criticism of Mississippi’s death penalty defense bar and not of Radley.

    nk (7d4710)

  93. I’m not getting the grammar, nk.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  94. Christoph #92,

    Where you have gone wrong is believing in absolute truth. Rarely do we get that kind of clarity in life. Instead, we make judgments about truth based on our evaluation of many factors and bias is one of those factors.

    For instance, in deciding whether or not Hayne has done a good job as ME, it’s true you should consider how Hayne and other MEs do their jobs but you should also evaluate the credibility of Hayne and his accusers. Factors like bias are indicators of whether someone is telling the truth or shading the truth to fit an agenda. One small piece of testimony or evidence may not make a difference but the totality of the circumstances may be crucial.

    And NK’s point was that the Mississippi defense bar may have an agenda to compromise Hayne.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  95. “Where you have gone wrong is believing in absolute truth. Rarely do we get that kind of clarity in life. Instead, we make judgments about truth based on our evaluation of many factors and bias is one of those factors.”

    What drivel. Either unacceptable mistakes start getting made at 300 or so autopsies a year… or they don’t. And if they do, then 5-6 times that number of autopsies in a year is unreasonable and Hayne is incompetent and/or unethical.

    301, 302… occasion for judgment. 5+ times that number assuming the National Association of Medical Examiners is correct, not so much.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  96. Christoph #94,

    I suppose I could have been a bit more articulate. Radley has written extensively about defendants wrongfully convicted based partly on the testimony of Drs. Hayne and West. Well, why the hell were they convicted in the first place? Where were their lawyers to make the case he’s making? In the WSJ article, for example, Radley talks about one instance where the court refused to fund an independent pathology for the defense to counter Dr. Hayne. Why didn’t the defense attorney front the $1,000.00 or so? At the risk of sounding holier than thou, I would have done it and petitioned the court for reimbursement after the verdict, at the very least. Actually, I would refuse representation in any jurisdiction which forced to “play to lose” in such a way.

    And as much as I appreciate Radley pointing out such injustices I appreciate even more someone showing that that’s not necessarily what happened.

    nk (7d4710)

  97. DRJ #95,

    You are kinder to our Mississippi collegues than I was in my comment. I’m spoiled being in Illinois, I guess. We have no shortage of top-notch attorneys working for free and at a loss on death penalty cases.

    nk (7d4710)

  98. Christoph #96 [emphasis supplied]:

    What drivel. Either unacceptable mistakes start getting made at 300 or so autopsies a year… or they don’t.

    Your own statement proves it’s not drivel. Humans are fallible and everyone makes mistakes, including prosecutors, defense counsel, MEs, judges, and even blog commenters. At what point does it reach an “unacceptable” mistake and, more important, why can’t you understand that reasonable minds can differ on when that point is reached?

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  99. How about at 325, the point where a certifying body refuses to accept you can do the work?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  100. I think that a disclosure might have been most helpful to the reader as context for a possible reason why Dr. Hayne didn’t give Radley a comment for the story, as Patterico points out in an earlier post. However,I still believe that the editorial seems well sourced and fairly easily checkable for misstatements of fact.

    What I’m unsure of is whether, in the journalistic world, Radley’s past reporting and position taking is deemed a “conflict of interest” absent some sort of direct obligation to Maye, economic or otherwise.

    Here are some links at the Society of Professional Journalists that may shed light on the subject. It may not be a cut and dried matter.

    Personally, I’d like to see more disclaimers as well. For instance, every time Christopher Hitchens opens his trotskyite yap about religion, I’d like to see a disclaimer revealing that he has written obscene tripe in the past about Mother Theresa and/or that a nun once beat him in the schoolyard with at 2×4 (if that is, indeed is a source of his animus) I just don’t know if such is required.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (bf2d8c)

  101. How do you know that’s the rule, Christoph? Because someone on the internet told you it is and you believed it without confirmation or explanation?

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  102. No, DRJ, but it’s not unknowable. Your point isn’t that Balko is wrong and unlike you, Patterico has stated he’s committed to finding out.

    Your point was some quasi-mystical notion about everyone having a different truth or opinion. And that’s drivel. IF he does a maximum of 5.5 times the amount of work in a year that would cause experts to conclude he can’t do the work without grievous errors, THEN… your point utterly falls apart.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  103. Haha, jerri,

    I think disclosure of Hitchen’s blood alcohol level at the time he writes an article would be more interesting.

    alphie (99bc18)

  104. But if the guy does one two-hour autopsy every day without a day off, he exceeds this (in my view arbitrary and rather silly) limit.

    If he is a workaholic, and does four two-hour autopsies a day, that’s almost 1500. But the days might only be eight-hour days, if your two-hour average is right.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  105. Not knowing anything about the subject until reading both blogs today, there is a very dishonest aspect to Balko’s op/ed article. He twice mentions that Haynes would not speak to him. He says it not once, but twice, in an article that is not that long. Balko not only should have disclosed his prior history with Haynes, he should have done it as part of his article if he was going to use the fact that Haynes wouldn’t talk to him in such a derogatory fashion ( which is how I took it).

    Also, it’s a little disingenuous of a blogger to not include background information in their blog posts and then claim surprise that it would be expected. Bloggers do it all the time because if they didn’t they’d have a hard time keeping new readers because none of us new readers would know what the hell they’re talking about half the time. For a blogger to then get such wide exposure as an op/ed in the WSJ, and never even think of providing any background, as Balko claims, is a little hard to believe.

    nt250 (db86a9)

  106. Jerri Lynn,

    From Balko’s blog at the link Patterico provided above:

    And about that–this notion that Patterico says I should have disclosed all of this in the Wall Street Journal article, because Patterico says Cory’s case “helped my career.” I haven’t made a dime off of Cory’s case other than the fee reason paid me to write the story last October. I suppose you could argue it’s one reason why the magazine offered me a job. But it’s one of several pieces I wrote for them prior to working for them full time.

    Do you think any of these issues could give rise to a perceived conflict of interest?

    Look, good for Balko for raising something he believes is an injustice and for pursuing it so doggedly. But don’t try to taint the jury pool without full disclosure.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  107. Now, granted, this guy does lots of other stuff, if Balko is to be believed. So he might give a lot of them short shrift. If true, that’s obviously not good.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  108. Patterico @ 105, that’s why I brought up the time it takes to do an autopsy with links as references.

    The point I’m making with DRJ is that the question has an answer.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  109. nt250, that is a fair point, to which I hope Balko will respond.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  110. I never said the question doesn’t have an answer. I said it has an answer based on the totality of the circumstances, not an “I got it off the internet” answer.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  111. DRJ said:

    “I never said the question doesn’t have an answer.”

    and:

    “Where you have gone wrong is believing in absolute truth.”

    Forgive me. I guess you were saying the question does have an answer. You were just wording it beyond my ability to comprehend.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  112. But if the guy does one two-hour autopsy every day without a day off, he exceeds this (in my view arbitrary and rather silly) limit.

    If he is a workaholic, and does four two-hour autopsies a day, that’s almost 1500. But the days might only be eight-hour days, if your two-hour average is right.

    Once again, Patterico, if you had read the longer version of the article before spouting off, you’d be better informed.

    Hayne has kept up this incredible autopsy pace in addition to holding two jobs at local hospitals for most of his career — jobs that he has said under oath take up 50+ hours per week. He also testifies 2-4 times per week in court, all over the state of Mississippi (and occasionally in Louisiana). Factor in continuing education requirements, and it becomes pretty clear that there’s no way he could be doing 1,500 autopsies per year and doing them with any sort of standards at all.

    Your calculation also assumes he works every day of the week, every week of the year.

    I’d really encourage you to read the longer article before continuing to speculate.

    Radley Balko (3a4194)

  113. Balko, you quote the association as saying they decertify someone who works 326+ autopsies per year. For a person who doesn’t have the same extra-curricular activities, is it your contention that this is an excessive workload leading to critical errors?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  114. Balko, nt250 raised a very good concern and I trust you will address it squarely:

    “He twice mentions that Haynes would not speak to him. He says it not once, but twice, in an article that is not that long. Balko not only should have disclosed his prior history with Haynes, he should have done it as part of his article if he was going to use the fact that Haynes wouldn’t talk to him…”

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  115. Radley #113

    I only read the op/ed, not the longer version of the article, and I thought you did a really great job of explaining that part. I thought that was the strongest part of the article to illustrate not just Haynes incompetence, but almost certain corruption. He must have been billing for autopsies he never performed. While you don’t come out and say it that way, there is pretty much no other reasonable conclusion.

    nt250 (db86a9)

  116. Radley:

    I also said in my very nezt comment:

    “Now, granted, this guy does lots of other stuff, if Balko is to be believed. So he might give a lot of them short shrift. If true, that’s obviously not good.”

    I didn’t need to read your longer version to know that. It was in your op-ed.

    You conveniently omit the fact that I said that, so you can attack me for *not* saying it.

    My point was that the general 325 per year limit seems arbitrary and silly. But if we believe you that this guy has a lot of other time-consuming responsibilities, then it’s a concern, as I had already said before you published your huffy comment that suggested I hadn’t said it.

    Patterico (f0be1d)

  117. In any event, I don’t need to read the Reason piece, Radley, to know that you should have disclosed the Maye connection in your op-ed.

    nt250’s point, which I made in my original post, is one of several reasons this should have been dosclosed.

    Patterico (6496a7)

  118. Christoph #112,

    I’m sorry my responses weren’t clear. The point I was trying to make is that the absolute answer to a given problem (what I referred to as absolute truth) depends on the circumstances and context.

    For instance, two cars speed through a school zone on the same day. One is speeding for fun in busy traffic, while the other is speeding with no traffic to take a seriously injured child for medical assistance. Both are speeding and, in that sense, both have broken the traffic laws but the outcome in each case will probably be different because of the circumstances. Thus, there is no absolute answer based on the numerical fact that the vehicles were speeding.

    Similarly, the facts may show that Hayne provided unreliable reports due to excessive numbers of autopsies, or it may show the opposite, or some point in between. We can’t answer that question based on one person’s view in an op-ed. We can agree it should be investigated.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  119. “We can agree it should be investigated.”

    Agreed. And obviously people’s work capacity varies, etc., but not by 5.5 times the MAXIMUM considered feasible by experts while still maintaining quality. Not year in, year out.

    So either Balko’s numbers are bunk, something I hypothesized in comment #71 or much of Hayne’s work and testimony is garbage.

    Even if Balko’s 325 figure is silly, as Patterico and Balko both point out, Hayne’s work and testimony could be suspect if he really has as much extra work beyond autopsies as his sworn testimony (as reported by Balko) would seem to indicate.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  120. “He twice mentions that Haynes would not speak to him. He says it not once, but twice, in an article that is not that long. Balko not only should have disclosed his prior history with Haynes, he should have done it as part of his article if he was going to use the fact that Haynes wouldn’t talk to him…”

    I mentioned the fact that Hayne didn’t return my calls twice at the request of the WSJ editors. Their lawyers wanted to make sure it was clear that I gave Hayne a chance to respond, and that he didn’t.

    I’ve already addressed the disclosure issues. Sorry, but I’m still not convinced it’s a major issue. I don’t think it’s incumbent on a journalist to disclose every prior article he’s written that may be tangentially related to a given article. Nor do I think it’s incumbent on him to disclose that he might, someday, possibly write a book about a given topic. I’ve never seen that kind of disclosure.

    I called Hayne several times to ask him about the allegations I made about him in the original Cory Maye article, too. He didn’t respond then, either. I’m not sure why it would be necessary to include that in a separate article exclusively about Hayne. Is a journalist obligated to disclose every prior article he’s written about a given topic? If that’s your standard, half the newspaper would be nothing but disclosures.

    In any event, I don’t need to read the Reason piece, Radley, to know that you should have disclosed the Maye connection in your op-ed.

    That’s debatable. But you really ought to read it if you’re going to start throwing out idle speculation about possible counterarguments to what I’ve written. Especially if the longer piece contains information that explicitly rejects those arguments. If you want to choose to remain ignorant about what Dr. Hayne is doing in Mississippi, that’s certainly your prerogative. But choosing to do so ought to disqualify you from being taken seriously when you comment on him, or when you comment about my account of what’s going on with him.

    I didn’t see your follow-up comment to #105. I had already started to respond before you posted again eight minutes later. Then I folded up my laptop and watched the Colts game.

    But I can’t help but wonder — if you’re conceding that Hayne couldn’t possibly have time to do 1,500 autopsies per year while still holding down his other responsibilities (with the charming caveat, “if Balko is to be believed”), why in the world would you speculate with back-of-the-envelope math how 1,500 autopsies per year could be possible the way you did in comment 105? Did you post that comment, suddenly realize you had overlooked a section of the op-ed that clearly showed you were wrong, then put up a coy, second post to cover your tracks?

    Seems to me you’re once again trying to undermine the credibility of my work, this time while actively choosing to remain ignorant of facts that would prove you wrong.

    Seriously. Why not go ahead and read the longer article? What harm would it do?

    Radley Balko (3a4194)

  121. DJR #119

    Investigated by who? According Balko’s op/ed, the last person who tried was run out of town.

    I’ve only been reading Patterico’s blog for a few months now, but I’d love to see a prosecutor address this seriously.

    In keeping with the theme of this thread: I disclose that I am totally biased against prosecutors. I think they have way too much power this country, and that power is almost completely unchecked and unlimited. They have more power than cops, more power than judges. They can ruin lives on a whim and almost never have to answer for it. (Nifong was such a blatant example he will always be an exception.)

    Here’s a case of a medical examiner who is probably not only incompetent, but a fraud. Why aren’t the prosecutors in Mississippi going after him? If anybody should be, it should be them.

    nt250 (db86a9)

  122. Balko, speaking of covering your tracks, I’m still curious how the number YOU relied on, 325 max, could be relied on.

    If the average autopsy takes 2 hours, and a practitioner does actual autopsy work 200 days a year (sure as heck reasonable for a doctor), then that means 3¼ hours of medical work per working day. Surely this is not only possible, but very light work?

    Can you correct me if I’m wrong? Can you defend that number?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  123. lol @ “utter bullshit”….. the man has a way with language, this is a journalist?

    james conrad (7cd809)

  124. “Did you post that comment, suddenly realize you had overlooked a section of the op-ed that clearly showed you were wrong, then put up a coy, second post to cover your tracks?”

    No. I was simply moving from a general discussion of the 325 per year standard to an acknowledgement that there was a particular concern in this case — if your facts are to be believed.

    I was actually surprised to see any comments showed up between my comments, which were posted 1 1/2 to 2 minutes apart.

    Had I realized you were monitoring the comment thread to jump down my throat, I would have made sure to say both things in the same comment.

    How many uniformed police officers fought Mr. Wheeler, Radley. Since we’re busy jumping down each other’s throats.

    Time for yet another correction.

    Patterico (7d1e81)

  125. nt250 #122:

    Investigated by who? According Balko’s op/ed, the last person who tried was run out of town.

    The more publicity (including the WSJ op-ed), the more likely there will be an investigation. That was Balko’s point, wasn’t it?

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  126. DRJ #126

    Why should it take that, though? That’s my question. Why is it that it takes publicity to get prosecutors to do the right thing, and even then, in most cases, they don’t.

    And who says they will now? Here we’ve got a prosecutor, Patterico, who is no nitpicky about a simple op ed, and doesn’t even have any personal stake in the cases. What’s wrong with this picture?

    nt250 (db86a9)

  127. nt250, most prosecutors, like cops, do the right thing more often or not. You’re right that the consequences are terrible when they don’t, which is why their must be checks and balances on the system, including freedom of a vigorous press.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  128. DRJ,

    To be a conflict of interest, is a direct obligation to Corey May required? Does gaining notoriety from the story, perhaps leading to a job equal a direct obligation to Corey Maye?

    I don’t know the answer to the first. I would answer the second, no.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (bf2d8c)

  129. I think that the connection of Haynes to the Maye case and Balko’s advocacy in it should have been included in the piece, but I don’t think that it is a “conflict of interest” as those are strictly defined. I think it is a matter of omitting relevant information.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  130. nt250 #127,

    I agree with Christoph’s #128. There’s a saying that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” which is another way of saying we can’t understand and fix problems until we expose them. There may not have been an investigation because the local powers-that-be don’t want one, or perhaps there aren’t any serious or systemic problems to investigate, or maybe there have been investigations that weren’t made public or that we don’t know about.

    Criminal cases are more noticeable because they involve the criminal justice system where there is typically more publicity and someone may go to jail. That’s one reason the American legal system tries to build in so many safeguards to protect the accused from the government.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  131. Jerri Lynn,

    I don’t know the answer for journalists but in the legal arena I think this would be, at a minimum, a perceived conflict of interest. It involves a past pecuniary interest and an ongoing advocacy interest. But the standards may vary and there may be journalist exceptions with which I’m unfamiliar.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  132. Balko, speaking of covering your tracks, I’m still curious how the number YOU relied on, 325 max, could be relied on.

    It’s the uppermost number of autopsies allowed by the guidelines set forth by the National Association of Medical Examiners, widely considered the standard professional organization for forensic pathologists. If any single pathologist does more than 325 per year, their guidelines say they will not certify that office. The “suggested” upper limit is even lower — 250.

    325-350 is also the uppermost limit given by Vincent DiMaio, author of what’s widely considered the profession’s premiere textbook.

    I’m not a forensic pathologist. Therefore, in writing this story, I had to seek out the opinions of people who are, who are considered experts, and who are considered by their peers to be the foremost authorities in the field. That’s what I did. And 325 per year was considered the consensus ceiling. Which makes sense, when you account for 5-day workweeks, vacations, personal time, continuing education, and testifying in court.

    Now I’m sure you’ll find some medical examiners in parts of the country who say that limit should be higher. You’ll probably find some who think it should be lower. But I doubt you’ll find many who think 1,500-1,800 while holding down two jobs and testifying 2-4 times per week is anything but an outrage.

    Radley Balko (68b635)

  133. Like yourself I am not an expert in pathology and I have no rebuttal to that. The numbers seems low to me… if a doctor was a hard worker just one a day.

    The premier pathology association in my country suggests the average is two hours per so… well, at any rate, as a matter of law you can’t do much better than to cite the professional association and a leading authority on autopsies, which is what you’ve done.

    Unless other experts contradict you, I’d have to consider the matter settled in your favor. I gather this is what would have to happen in court too.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  134. The debate over whether 1500 autopsies might actually be possible for one person to do in a year is bordering on farcical.

    While accepting that all expert guidelines are subjective and capable individuals might safely exceed them a number 5 times as high as the limit beyond which the medical board refuses to certify is absolutely beyond reasonable limits.

    I’d hazard a guess that were a motorist doing 5 times the speed limit a prosecutor would tear apart any argument about safe driving.

    The fact that this point is being pulled out as an example of questionable journalism leads me immediately to guess that the other claims of abnormal bias are equally inane.

    Robert (e8227e)

  135. “The fact that this point is being pulled out as an example of questionable journalism leads me immediately to guess that the other claims of abnormal bias are equally inane.”

    You have absolutely demolished the strawman you constructed. Congratulations!

    Patterico (591fad)

  136. I’d say the laughable claims Dr. Two Hands made during the trial that the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the verdict are more damning than the number of autopsies he performed a year.

    Did he make similar rediculous statements during Cory Maye’s trial?

    alphie (99bc18)

  137. Alphie,

    In the Maye case, Hayne testified that he could tell the trajectory of the bullet from the wound and that Maye was standing instead of on the floor as Maye testifed. Here’s more.

    I’m gathering that the part of that testimony Balko’s story finds incredible is that Hayne speculated about what position the officer’s body was in when hit and seemed to ignore the physical evidence in a door frame which suggests that Maye was shooting up.

    Jerri Lynn Ward (bf2d8c)

  138. This comment thread sure has its share of the obtuse. Patrick wants Radley to own up to his reasons for opposing Dr. Hayne. I agree with Mr. Frey, Mr. Balko should inform his readers why he is speaking out against Dr. Hayne. Far from damaging his position, such information actually bolsters it.

    Dr. Hayne has hurt people with his fraudulent testimony, Cory Maye is one of them. Balko’s mentioning Hayne’s abuse of the evidence surrounding the Maye case could only help Maye’s cause, and the push to get Hayne removed as medical examiner and his testimony in many cases discredited.

    Knowing why someone is doing something helps with the decision to support that someone or not. By not revealing why he is opposed to Dr. Hayne Radly Balko has made it harder to support him.

    It’s called transparency people. I want to see Dr. Hayne in prison because he bore false witness. I hate false witness because I’ve been the victim of false witness. Hayne said false things about people because he thought they’d done something wrong, and because he wanted to help his friends in law enforcement. This wrong and cannot be tolerated.

    More specifically he said false things about one Corey Maye. One Radley Balko found out about this, and is now working to see that Hayne can no longer hurt people through bearing false witness.

    This I support. But not the fact he, Radley Balko, is hiding the fact he has a reason for what he’s doing. Mr. Balko, there will always be people opposed to what you’re doing. You’ll always have enemies. Don’t let them dictate what you do, for they will always find a way to use it against you.

    Alan Kellogg (8b45a0)

  139. Mr. Kellog,

    I’ve never hidden anything about Hayne, Maye, or my involvement in either. I’ve been pretty open about it on my blog. And I plan to write a separate article detailing why Hayne’s testimony in Maye’s case was prejudicial–and why he shouldn’t have been allowed to give it.

    I neglected to mention Maye in my respective exposes of Hayne in the WSJ and Reason because the story of Dr. Steven Hayne’s long time perversion of the Mississippi criminal justice system is much bigger than the Cory Maye case. While his testimony in Maye’s case was regrettable, it wasn’t as egregious as his testimony in other cases, which made for far more compelling examples to include in the articles.

    My decision not to include the Maye case had nothing to do with what my detractors might think. It simply wasn’t worth including because it wasn’t all that relevant. His testimony in several other cases, including two involving men still on death row, seemed far more urgent.

    Radley Balko (68b635)

  140. To Radley Balko @ 47:

    You’re quoting my comments there, not Patterico, though he graciously allows me to post as a guest commentator on his blog.

    And, like Patterico, I too am a prosecutor.

    Let me say this about the version of your article that is in the WSJ — I am appalled by the system used in Mississippi, and its use of a forensic pathologist whose practice appears to be — based on your reporting — so far outside the accepted professional norm.

    The information you provide in the article is such that I would never make use of Dr. Hayne if he were to come to my attention as an option.

    But, it is an adversarial system, and the third branch of government is charged with the responsibility of insuring the fairness of the process afforded a criminal defendant.

    That does not relieve prosecutors of ethical and moral obligations we should embrace in the pursuit of justice, and I find it astonishing that an “expert” such as Dr. Hayne — taking your reporting at face value — continues to find clients for his work.

    wls (fb8809)

  141. wls, Patterico had no idea how many autopsies a pathologist should be able to perform while maintaining quality. My question, which I think nk brought up, is why didn’t the defense in any of the innumerable trials he testified in challenge and discredit him?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  142. So are you going to post an actual correction of your *second* error in representing the facts of the Wheeler case, Radley?

    Or are you just going to quietly change your post and pretend you always had it right?

    Patterico (f0630d)

  143. Wow, WLS.

    That was a nice, respectful post. Unlike the pretender (Patterico), you did a very nice job of raising the level of discourse.

    My favorite part of Patterico’s post:

    “Ultimately, I think Balko is getting so upset at me, not because I did anything to deserve his anger . . . but because deep down, he knows I’m right about this. ”

    Patterico claims to be against “trolling”…but I don’t know what you call the above. Besides the obvious continued use of mind reading, he might as well say, “Neener neener….I’m getting Balko so mad, lookie me…neener neener!”

    Hypocrisy, thy name is Patterico.

    Dude (7676e6)

  144. Do you guys read the WSJ opinion pages regularly? Do you feel that the article in question was written to a lesser standard than others in the opinion section? For better or worse… dry scholarly articles would not get published in the opinion page.

    Disclosure: I’m an Agitator homer. But from my biased viewpoint, Patterico is holding an opinion page article to an inappropriate standard. Balko was clearly identified as a Reason writer — anyone with any curiosity could go to Reason.com, click on staff, and see everything there is to see about Balko. I don’t know anything about Patterico and I hope I’m wrong here, but I get the feeling Patterico is the one with the ulterior motive.

    Justin Cook (0f6841)

  145. Shut up, Dude.

    From the defense side I echo wls (and I touched upon it previously). I don’t see a biased expert witness being determinative without a worthless defense attorney and more worthless judge as his enablers.

    nk (6e4f93)

  146. Dude — you need to read my post at 37 above. I agree with Patterico that Balko did himself no favors by not disclosing his bias against Dr. Hayne in his piece.

    It would have needed to be nothing more than “I’ve written previously about Dr. Hayne and his dubious testimony on behalf of the state in the prosecution of Corey Maye, and further study has led me to even more examples of his shoddy work.”

    That gives the reader — someone like me completely unaware of Balko’s previous advocacy on the subject of Dr. Hayne — a context for Balko’s information, and his credibility is intact. When someone like Patterico comes along and says “Yeah, but did you know that Balko …..?” only makes me wonder why Balko wasn’t upfront with the same information.

    I don’t think Patterico is siding with Dr. Hayne, he’s just critical of Balko for not being forthcoming. I think Patterico has a point, and Balko’s wound is self-inflicted.

    wls (fb8809)

  147. WLS-

    Your difference of opinion with Balko is noted and well-stated. I disagree with you, but disagreements are bound to happen.

    I’m just saying that the way you express yourself is much preferable to “Tee hee hee….Balko’s getting so mad cuz he knows I’m right….tee hee heee heee.”

    Dude (7676e6)

  148. Radley Balko,

    Are you going to continue to pretend that you didn’t claim Wheeler fought *three* uniformed police officers?

    Correcting something without acknowledging the error is not cool.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  149. Btw, I recommend this comment I left on another thread for an interesting alternative interpretation of what Dr. Hayne was actually testifying to.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  150. Patterico — you are deep in the weeds now comparing App. Ct. opinion language to what the Supreme Court characterized it to be, and then taking Balko to task for relying on the Supreme Court’s characterization.

    But, this is a very BIG point for you, and does much to rehabilitate Dr. Haynes’ testimony.

    wls (fb8809)

  151. I’m doing a post on it now.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  152. Can’t wait to see the new post. Also curious if it will counteract some of Hayne’s credibility issues on the stand vis-a-vis his workload and failure to pass a qualification exam as a pathologist. Nonetheless, Balko’s characterization of Hayne’s testimony as showing how many fingers were on the trigger or whatever by the bullet wound (I may be misunderstanding it) seems grossly simplistic.

    I can’t believe Hayne is actually stupid.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  153. It goes up in about 40 minutes, and says nothing about the number of autopsies, or about any case but Edmonds.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  154. Patterico — you are deep in the weeds now comparing App. Ct. opinion language to what the Supreme Court characterized it to be, and then taking Balko to task for relying on the Supreme Court’s characterization.

    Oh, that will be the argument — how can I, a lawyer, be so stupid as to not know the Supreme Court trumps the Court of Appeals. Yada yada yada. I explicitly address that issue in the post — but since when does what I say in the post matter? Balko’s minions will believe whatever he tells them to believe, and that’s what he’ll tell them.

    Mark my words.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  155. The point, as a factual matter, is that the Supreme Court majority opinion doesn’t really address the points made by the Court of Appeals. Rather, it simply misquotes and mischaracterizes them.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  156. Cool. Absolutely, totally off topic, but if you ever get a minute to contemplate this, even if you don’t post on it, as a law and order Canuck, I’m still kinda shocked a guy can face 30-years for stealing a 52-cent doughnut.

    I would think if ever a case called out for a plea bargain and a maximum 2-years in jail (also kind of absurd) this is the one. Prosecutorial overreach. As far as I’m concerned, that prosecutor should have a rapid change of heart or be forced to resign in shame. No fact, even as alleged, warrants anything near this time.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  157. I’m not getting sidetracked by that, on this thread especially.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  158. You don’t have to and I’m not trying to sidetrack you. As I said it’s off topic and you don’t have to post on it. Just wanted to throw it out there in case you were interested.

    Again, this is off topic, but I was in Australia recently and watching their court shows I was just shocked at how mind-blowingly permissive they are. Stuff like, “Mr. Trent, you’ve had a lifetime of stealing cars, this is your fourth time before the court, and your second time before me. We are going to set an example so you understand that you can’t do this in Australia. As such, I’m giving you a 9-month suspended sentence and directing you to a counselling program.”

    This type of thing was repeated over and over again. And it was nuts. Yet the potential 30-year doughnut thing is the other side of nuts.

    Anyway, you don’t have to post on it, I just found it generally interesting and wanted to mention it while it was in the new.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  159. *news

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  160. Balko’s minions will believe whatever he tells them to believe

    Yikes!

    alphie (99bc18)

  161. They are mind-numbed robots, alphie.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  162. Are they similar to the engineering types we heard about during the Spector trial that lack the ability to make the logical leaps over the holes in prosecution cases?

    alphie (99bc18)

  163. Spector is guilty as sin IMHO.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  164. I’m trying to imagine this “neutral journalist” that Patterico says readers would assume wrote the article (absent disclosure)…

    How would this journalist be neutral in a way that anybody should care about? Would he have never heard about Hayne via a prior investigation and just randomly decided to investigate a medical examiner? Is that what people assume?

    Would he have to be neutral on the issue of corrupt prosecutors or incompetent expert testimony?

    Would anybody really think that would add credibility to the article?

    I’m no expert on journalistic practice and conventions, but even if there were an expectation of disclosure in this case, it seems almost insanely, stupidly, irrelevant to the important issues involved here.

    Why write posts with lots of bold face phrases, about such a trivial point?

    Are there any relevant facts about the substance of the article that are in dispute?

    If not, then why not just applaud Balko’s efforts and be happy that the cause of justice has been furthered?

    Gil (a003b8)

  165. Are there any relevant facts about the substance of the article that are in dispute?

    Yup. See the end of the post for a link.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  166. Correction to the above: (#26)

    After some email correspondence, I’d like to retract my “collegiality” judgement in favor of Balko, I missed several insults and comments in my initial reading of his response.

    Apologies to Patterico for my (upon review, obvious) error.

    Unix-Jedi (b18156)

  167. That’s decent of you to say, Unix-Jedi.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  168. P@140

    Mr. Balkoo, even the appearance of a conflict of interest damages your cause. By not disclosing your connection with the Corey Maye case you are presenting the appearance of a conflict of interest. Actual relevance means nothing here, what matters is the appearance of relevance.

    From all I’ve seen you have good cause to oppose Dr. Hayne. His false witness in the case of Corey Maye serves to bolster your cause. By not disclosing why you learned about the criminal actions of one Dr. Hayne over a number of cases, you weaken your cause in the eyes of the world. It’s a matter of motivation. Why was the thing done? By hiding a perfectly legitimate motivation you give Hayne’s defenders and your detractors ammunition against you. They’re going to hate you anyway, why not give us—those prone to support you—ammunition we can use against them.

    Be it a good motivation disclose it proudly. And be you unwilling to disclose the why you need to ask yourself; was it indeed a good motivation?

    Alan Kellogg (c06d0b)


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