Radley Balko has been on Mississippi state medical examiner Steven Hayne's case for years. He has gathered a fair bit of evidence that Hayne is not only an unqualified hack, but that he has a history of saying anything and everything, no matter how bizarre, that a prosecutor wants to hear in court to get a conviction.
The case of Jimmie Duncan is as bad as any. In this case, Hayne and his "dental expert" Michael West are seen on video mutilating an unmarked corpse with castings of Duncan's teeth in order to manufacture evidence for a conviction. Balko has the story, lots of links, and the video here.
The case would be troubling even if Hayne was just a one-off problem. But the absolute unwillingness of the state to investigate Haynes and many of the convictions he helped obtain, despite evidence of egregious incompetence and outright fraud, demonstrate that few in government have any interest in policing over-zealous prosecution. The experience of the few prosecutors like Craig Watkins who are willing to re-open convicted cases when the evidence changes (or evidence of past railroading emerges) lead me to think that lots of innocent men are still rotting in jails.
All this is the major reason why I gave up on supporting the death penalty years ago -- simply put, I don't trust the state to get it right. Back 25 years ago when I called myself a "conservative," I tended, like others on the right, to make exceptions for the untrustworthiness and incompetence of the state when it came to a) the military and b) the police and prosecution. No longer. There just is no rational evidence that the incentive problems and abuse of power issues that plague other branches of government don't affect these as well. Which is not to say there are not honorable people in these institutions -- its that I would rather have a system in place that didn't assume their were honorable people in these positions to functions correctly.
Postscript: People sometimes argue with me on the military exception above. They say "look at the US military. It seems so powerful and competant in battle. It pulled off Omaha beach. And Desert Storm."
Well, yeah, but the thing is, it is only competing with other government-monopoly operations. Its like saying the US post office is better than the French post office, or that Amtrak kicks butt on the Mexican National Railway.
As to D-Day, well, there are few opportunities in private life to demonstrate the heroism under fire that was common on Omaha Beech, but logistically, was it anything special compared to what is routine today? I won't let myself get caught comparing apples and oranges, but I have seen the Air Force's logistics system and it is a sad joke compared to Wal-Marts restocking of 100,000 sku's every day in 10,000+ stores around the world.