UPDATE: Read my disclaimer. Don’t run crying to my employer. They have nothing to do with this.
This is the sixth in my series on the politically motivated witch hunt against Dr. Charles Siebert for making a politically incorrect, but medically correct, diagnosis. The first installment is here. The second installment is here. The third installment is here. The fourth installment is here. The fifth installment is here.
The lynching of Charlie Siebert by Gov. Crist and the Medical Examiner Commission (MEC) of Florida is reaching it’s final stages. Even at the end, the MEC has managed to achieve a new level of perfidy.
Dr. Siebert is, of course, appealing the false accusations made against him, and it does not look good for the MEC — even their own outside consultant has stated that the charges are not supportable. They know they are going to lose, and that Dr. Siebert will be vindicated.
What to do? Well, if you are the MEC, the answer is simple — treachery. The MEC went to Dr. Siebert and said they would not be prepared for the hearing by the late 2007 trial date, and requested a continuance. Dr. Siebert said OK.
In the meantime, the search committee for the new appointee decided that, since Dr. Siebert was applying for reappointment, it would only be fair to allow Dr. Siebert to clear his name before making a recommendation. The MEC, in a profoundly treacherous and cynical move, denied the committee’s request for a delay, said it would ignore the recommendation of the search committee, and that it would make a recommendation to Gov Crist on December 29 of Dr. Dan Davis, an applicant from Arizona. Since Dr. Siebert would no longer be employed as a Medical Examiner he would no longer have standing for appeal, and the MEC would never have to face a judge’s ruling on its attacks. They could not win an appeal, so they used their own request for a delay to deny Dr. Siebert his day in court.
But then, what else would you expect from such a politicized and corrupt system?
The endgame continues, though Dr. Siebert will probably end up hurt no matter what happens. After the MEC said they would ignore the search committee’s recommendation and nominate Dr. Dan Davis (the only other applicant by this time), the search committee went ahead and recommended Dr. Siebert. The MEC said that it would still nominate Dr. Davis.
This grotesque behavior by the MEC roused the National Association of Medical Examiners to write an open letter stating that the MEC was “dishonestly misrepresenting the facts of their investigation,” demanded a public retraction of the claim that the MEC was using NAME standards for its evaluation and noted that the MEC had severely damaged the credibility of the Florida ME system by its politicization of this case.
An independent group of over 20 Medical Examiners from around the country and Australia cosigned an open letter published in the Tallahassee Democrat that states, in part:
”Now the commission is attempting to remove Siebert and destroy his credibility. It delayed Siebert’s administrative hearing until after the new year, but has refused a request from District 14 to delay the appointment of a medical examiner until after the hearing. It appears that technicalities are acceptable only when the commission uses them.
The commission has also informed the people of District 14 that it will ignore their opinion and choose someone else as chief medical examiner. The commissioners set the meeting to make this decision for Dec. 29, in the middle of the holidays. They have no shame.
This political hijacking of Florida’s medical examiner system should be of concern to everyone. Without confidence in the independence of medical examiners, every decision can reasonably be questioned and unreasonably be scrutinized. Medical examiners from every corner of our country have added their names, alarmed about these events and their consequences.
Medical examiners throughout Florida have privately expressed their concerns, but they will not speak publicly in fear of becoming the next victim of this out-of-control commission.”
Ironically, Dr. Davis has now removed his name from consideration and has taken a position in a less politicized and corrupt system. Now the MEC is in the position of refusing to delay its recommendation — but having nobody to recommend! I’m sure they will do whatever they can to avoid having to defend their illegitimate accusations before a judge. They know they will lose, and lose badly.
Dr. Davis’ decision to seek greener pastures is something that Florida can look forward to in future openings as well. The actions of the MEC have made Florida the place to go when you can’t work anywhere else. There’s certainly a place for such systems, particularly when you are negotiating for salary — it’s good to be able to say “Well, for that kind of money, I might as well go work in Florida” and have your potential employer know that in fact, Florida will always be an option as long as you don’t have an outstanding felony warrant. Of course, Gov. Crist’s and the MEC’s corruption of the ME system does a great disservice to the good MEs that got jobs there back when it was a good system and who are still there. It’s hard to leave your home; they will likely hunker down and hope things get better.
I hope they’re right. But it won’t get better until there’s a structural change in the Medical Examiner system in Florida that will put Medical Examiners instead of Al Sharpton in charge of making forensic diagnoses. This is all probably too late to save Dr. Siebert, but one can only hope that the people of Florida realize that playing Nifong is not the role the Medical Examiner Commission of Florida should aspire to. The ME system in Florida needs a complete overhaul, starting with removing non-physician political appointees from the MEC. Otherwise, there’s no need for a Medical Examiner system at all — you can just let the Governor appoint the NAACP to write what they think will fit their agenda and dispense with the autopsy altogether.
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