Criminal Justice

Good News in Mississippi?

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The Innocence Project seems to think so.

Governor Haley Barbour has appointed Steven Simpson, a judge from the Gulf Coast, to head up the state's Department of Public Safety. That's the agency that oversees the crime lab and the medical examiner's office. The new appointee has promised to make it a priority to get both agencies in order.

Judge Simpson is a former prosecutor and law enforcement officer. He comes from one of just a couple of areas of the state that hasn't regularly used Dr. Steven Hayne for autopsies. Though I'm told the guy they do use down there is nearly as bad, my sources in Mississippi say that on the whole, Simpson's appointment is probably good news.

The other news is that the state legislature has appropriated (pdf) a barely-adequate budget to fund the state medical examiner position, something they haven't done in more than a decade. The total budget for salaries, benefits, supplies, and so forth is just under $1 million. That should be at least enough to attract some decent candidates for the head position and run a bare-bones office, though probably not enough to adequately staff it.

Rep. Bob Evans' amendment that would have withheld funding from the entire Department of Public Safety until a new state medical examiner is hired didn't make it through the conference committee.

Still, if the new salary is high enough to at minimum attract a qualified, professional candidate with some integrity, it would likely spell the end of Dr. Steven Hayne's autopsy practice. That's a step in the right direction.

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  1. bare-bones office

    Groan. Great reporting, and good news, despite the pun.

  2. Hi everybody! I am proud to be heading new million dollar coroner office. Together, we will put “fun” back into “insufficient funding!”

  3. “Still, if the new salary is high enough to at minimum attract a qualified, professional candidate with some integrity, it would likely spell the end of Dr. Steven Hayne’s autopsy practice.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t taking on Dr. Hayne-ous the reason the last two office holders were forced out?

  4. Dr. Riviera only got this position because of the “enhancement” services he’s rendered for Mayor Quimby’s “nieces”.

    Uh he he he he he

  5. Governor Haley Barbour has appointed Steven Simpson

    Simpson, eh?

  6. He’s one of your mindless drones from sector 7-G, sir.

  7. New man?

  8. Actually, sir, he thwarted your campaign for governor, you ran over his son, he saved the plant from meltdown, his wife painted you in the nude…

  9. Judge Simpson is a former prosecutor and law enforcement officer.

    Satisfaction reduced by a factor of .8.

    Couldn’t they get someone from the defense bar?

  10. A “step in the right direction” would be the convening of a grand jury to discuss an indictment of Hayne and Allgood.

  11. hamilton,

    Have a little patience. That is hopefully the one of the next steps. Things move slowly down yonder.

    Although I would be outraged, I wouldn’t be surprised if he found “no wrong doing” due to:
    1) “…taking on Dr. Hayne [was] the reason the last two office holders were forced out”
    2) “Judge Simpson is a former prosecutor and law enforcement officer…[and]…I’m told the guy they do use down there is nearly as bad.”
    3) The Old Boy network does exist.

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