Mississippi Announces New Medical Examiner

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Mark LeVaughn, who is coming here from Buffalo, New York, is now Mississippi's new chief medical examiner. He has his work cut out for him.

Mississippi has been without a chief medical examiner since 1995.
LeVaughn comes into an office that is no stranger to a backlog of cases and a limited number of staff.

You may remember back in early January that the state hired a chief medical examiner, but due to health reasons, that person was unable to accept the position.

LeVaughn says the office will reduce the backlog and plans to develop closer relationships with law enforcement agencies.

"I think the greatest challenge as the chief is to have unity with the coroners in the state, gain their trust and to also gain the trust of the families of the patients that we deal with, and the law enforcement officers," said LeVaughn. "And my main goal at this point in time is to manage our case load better and not dwell on what happened in the past, and to move forward in a positive way."

"This position has in the past been filled by contract, or in at least one case, simply because no one else wanted the job," said Albert Santa Cruz, Mississippi's commissioner of public safety. "The office has been called in to question in national publications and across this state. That's about to change."

To put this in perspective, on average, 1500 to 1700 autopsy cases pass through the Mississippi medical examiner's office each year.

The goal of the department is to hire five forensic pathologists to be placed in regional offices across the state to help ease that work load.