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Letters to the Editors

Medical examiner investigation is indeed warranted


© St. Petersburg Times
published May 5, 2002

Re: Medical examiner needs to rebuild credibility of office, April 30 editorial

Editor: The official report on the Rebecca Long death as reported by the medical examiner is totally implausible and not the work of any stable professional forensic office.

That these two far differentiated diagnoses could be the findings of the same physician examining the same body is ludicrous. The explanation for this bizarre mix-up lies elsewhere. A further investigation is warranted.

The suggestion that professional physicians would enter into "conspiratorial zeal to hold someone accountable for the death of a child" is frightening. The insinuation rattles the justice tree like an aspen in a high wind. Because the same prosecutors and police personnel work so often together with the medical examiner, it is reasonable to conclude that over the years they bond and wish each other professional success.

The medical examiner, however, hopefully a board certified forensic pathologist, must not give in to favoring one side of a case, as opposed to the other, no matter how empathetic toward the minions of the justice system one may tend to wax over time. This case is just exactly what the critical importance of being impartial illustrates. A medical examiner can be the instrument of horrible miscarriages of justice merely by omitting being as passionate for the rights of the defense as for the prosecutor. If such equanimity intrudes on warm social relations, then these relations must be imperiled as a necessary sacrifice to the cost of being professional.

Dr. Thogmartin is to be congratulated for unearthing and correcting this disgraceful miscarriage. This mess is going to be costly. The authorities are going to have to do right by Mr. Long, and all of us taxpayers are going to pray that there are no other miscarriages waiting to be disinterred. But, I trust that neither the cost, nor any resultant revelations of ineptitude, will dissuade Dr. Thogmartin from conducting an exhaustive review of all Dr. Woods' cases where the forensic evidence was determinative. Sad to say, defense counsel in this, and any new cases which may emerge, will also have to answer for any inertia on their part.

A positive byproduct of all this might be the reinstating of criminal charges in a case or two where the courts might have been confused by various findings of different visiting pathologists. Just to be certain, they may require testimony under oath with regard to the actual forensic merit of their findings.
-- James A. O'Connor, Hudson

"Will Rogers never met Ginny Brown-Waite'

Re: Lawmaker's legacy is refusal to conform, April 28 Times:

Editor: It should have read, Lawmaker's legacy is refusal to get along, or perhaps, Will Rogers never met Ginny Brown-Waite.

I attempted to work positively with Sen. Brown-Waite for six long years in the Legislature. It was impossible. The woman is self-centered, insecure and hell-bent on trying to destroy anyone she feels is a threat to her future. I have seen her publicly humiliate and rebuke her staff, other legislative employees, lobbyists, local elected officials and constituents. The quality of life in downtown Tallahassee will markedly improve with her absence.

Sen. Brown-Waite has public tiffs with colleagues, but she never fails to look out for No. 1.

I continue to be amazed by the sheer number of people who have had negative dealings with her, and yet, she has an uncanny ability to fool the press and many of her constituents.

Most politicians like people and want to be liked themselves. Not Sen. Brown-Waite. Like a playground bully, she simply craves attention and a chance to put some perceived enemy in his place.

I don't find myself agreeing with gadfly Janey Baldwin very often, but her comment in the story that Harvey Waite, (Brown-Waite's husband) will go straight to heaven when he dies certainly begs the question, "Just where is Ginny Brown-Waite going?"

Even the summers in Washington D.C. don't get that hot.

Plus, the President and Congress will have their hands full with the war on terror and the weak economy.

Why in the world would we want to inflict Brown-Waite on them right now?
-- Jeff Stabins, Weeki Wachee

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