Balko on Mississippi's Forensic Pathology System:

Radley Balko has an excellent piece in the October Reason on the Corey Maye case. Thanks to Instapundit, I've discovered that the piece is now online.

I'm writing an article on expert evidence under Daubert/FRE 702 in which, among other things, I call for the privatization of forensic science services. There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to go about such privatization, and Mississippi seems to have done it the wrong way: "Mississippi's forensic pathology system is, in the words of one medical examiner I spoke with, 'a mess.' The state has no official examiners. Instead, prosecutors solicit them from a pool of vaguely official private practitioners to perform autopsies in homicide cases."

In contrast to a properly designed system, in which such practitioners would be subject to periodic tests of proficiency and honesty, Balko's account suggests that the Mississippi judicial system exerts virtually no quality control over its forensic pathologists. The result, according to Balko, is convictions, including perhaps Maye's, based on highly dubious evidence. Balko tells me he is working on a follow-up to this aspect of the Maye story. Meanwhile, his entire article is well worth reading.