More on Dr. Michael West


The ACLU blog follows up on my story about Mississippi's Dr. Michael West:

As Balko notes, the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project Director John Holdridge has successfully challenged West's findings in the past. In 1993, John freed Larry Maxwell, an innocent man charged with three capital murders in Mississippi, and later helped to exonerate Anthony Keko, who was wrongfully convicted in Louisiana of killing his ex-wife. Both men had faced West's dubious science in court.

John also filed ethics complaints against West with three professional organizations to which the doctor belonged; those complaints resulted in West's resignation from two of the groups, and suspension from the other. Despite this loss of standing in the forensic community, he's still routinely called to testify in death penalty trials, almost always for the prosecution.

Defense atttorneys tell me Dr. West's frequency of court appearances has dropped pretty dramatically in the last few years, to the point where District Attorney Forrest Allgood is really the only prosecutor who still uses him regularly. Of course, that's bad enough. And there's also the matter of revisiting all the cases in which Dr. West has testified in the past, which should certainly be done. But check the pages of reason in the coming months for more craziness from forensic witnesses in Mississippi. Dr. West isn't alone.

The Innocence Project's blog also weighs in, noting that faulty bite mark evidence has sent at least four other innocent people to prison.