More on Medical Examiner's Loss of Accreditation

The Washington Times and the Washington Examiner have follow-up articles on the revelation earlier this week that the D.C. medical examiner’s office lost its national accreditation. The original story in the Washington Examiner said that the lack of accreditation could make the prosecution of homicide and other criminal cases more difficult.

The Examiner said that D.C. Gov. Vincent Gray is working to get the medical examiner’s accreditation back. Meanwhile, the Times’ article said that while the D.C. medical examiner’s office is “at a loss” to explain why its accreditation was not renewed, the National Association of Medical Examiners said it removed Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marie Pierre-Louis from its list because she “is not board-certified in pathology and has been out of training too long to go back and obtain the certification.”

The Times also explained what impact the accreditation loss will have on criminal cases:

Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said defense attorneys may use the lack of accreditation in court as leverage, but “that only goes so far,” he said.

“Do you win because you’re board-certified? Probably not. Do we lose a case because we’re not? Probably not,” he added. “But would the prosecutor rather say we’re accredited? Yes.”

Thomas P. Mauriello, a lecturer on criminology at the University of Maryland, College Park, said a defense attorney may attack the credentials of a chief medical examiner even if he or she didn’t work on the case, “as long as it confuses the jury enough.”

“Losing any accreditation allows the defense to question anything that comes out of the office,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the office isn’t doing good work. It is about a professional standard that has not been met.”

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