Those following the Charles Siebert lynching in Florida know that I have been focusing a lot on it. However, there are a number of other egregious examples of political compromise of Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathology offices in other states. More recently there is the unwarranted firing of Dr. Flomenbaum in Massachusetts. His attempt to turn the office around rocked the political boat, and it resulted in the standard BS charges used to force folk out. Usually I don’t write about these since they are so common — Jon Arden in DC, Mark Flomembaum in MA, Charlie Siebert in FL, the entire crew in Indianapolis, etc., etc., etc. Most Medical Examiners spend a lot of time praying that they don’t get that special case that makes them politically unpopular. God save us from getting stuck doing the Terri Schiavos and Martin Andersons of the world.
Most of the time, however, we can count on our colleagues generally standing behind us, with the exception of the standard media whores and such, of course. That’s what made me focus on the Charlie Siebert lynching — it would not have been possible without the eager cooperation of a select group of his colleagues.
But, sometimes, we can fight back. One of the worst cases of injustice in the recent past was the mass firing in Indianapolis by the newly-elected Coroner there. For years, Indianapolis had been a stellar place for forensic pathology. The office run by John Pless for years was the kind of place that most MEs wish they could turn their offices into. It was associated with a good medical school and did excellent academic investigational work, it had the highest standards in practice, and it produced some of the best young forensic pathologists in the nation. When John retired, Steve Radentz continued in that tradition. Excellent work. Excellent group. Some of the best forensic pathology around.
Of course, none of that holds water when it comes to racial politics. In 2006, a new Coroner, Kenneth Ackles, was elected. Coroner Ackles is not a pathologist or a medical doctor. He is a chiropracter and made it his mission to dissassemble one of the best ME offices in the nation and remake it in his racial image. He fired the team there and reconstructed it to meet his political and racial preferences. While I wish Dr. Carter, his current hire, the best, he has destroyed what was once one of the best offices in the nation. Finally, though, the group is fighting back. The suit will likely reveal some of the shenanigans Ackles used to create an office of the appropriate hue, as well as some of the operational results of that kind of management.
It should be interesting.