In a nation where up to 10% of incarcerated people may be wrongfully convicted, how do you determine who’s innocent and who’s guilty? Dr. Burton Bentley is an emergency medicine physician who helmed a company called Elite Medical Experts. Its mission is to provide expert medical opinions in complex litigation in the hopes of avoiding such miscarriages of justice.

This fascinating installment of Open Mike examines the nuanced, sometimes convoluted systems that necessitate third-party intervention in order to provide a fair verdict. Casting a spotlight on a captivating discussion between a brilliant legal mind and a brilliant medical mind, this episode is truly a must-listen!

Show Notes

[0:05] Introducing today’s guest, Dr. Burton Bentley

[0:55] Dr. Bentley, you’re at the University of Arizona right now, is that true?

[1:18] What possessed you to help innocent people get out of prison?

[1:35] Dr. Bentley’s background

[3:17] Your company has helped provide experts for indigent defendants, correct?

[4:18] Can you provide an example of stepping into a case where a defendant didn’t have an expert and you were able to have someone step in and lighten the jury to good effect?

[8:51] So, this is a man who’s already convicted, probably life imprisonment, or a lengthy sentence?

[10:57] I assume his attorneys in Ohio will be filing a motion to relief from judgment, using your affidavit you were able to procure from a forensic pathologist to show there’s no evidence, asking the judge for a new trial?

[12:06] The expert witnesses are so important — in Michigan, the Supreme Court recently passed a law stating these types of criminal cases, if the prosecution is bringing expert witnesses against the defendant, the defense must provide expert witness testimony.

[13:19] How crazy is it to hear that defense attorneys try to defend someone without an expert? What’s your take on that?

[15:26] The presumption in child abuse is that it’s inflicted, because the child couldn’t have inflicted it on themselves, and by the time it reaches a legal construct, it’s because someone has informed Child Protective Services or law enforcement

[18:42] The jury has to hear the other side, even in exceptional circumstances, so they can determine who is telling the truth

[20:40] Dr. Bentley provides an example of a baby with multiple, sustained head injuries; the assumption is child abuse, but the family has video evidence of the baby constantly hitting their head against their crib

[24:48] How does a juror determine which expert is telling the truth?

[26:01] One of the telltale signs of legitimacy is if an expert is making a living off their expertise, if they’re an “advertising expert”

[28:27] Experts are being paid thousands of dollars to provide expert testimony! Leaving aside the money, how do you tell who’s telling the truth?

[30:55] A lot of credibility goes to the character of the expert or physician and how “likeable” they are

[33:14] You have knowledge about a specific type of expert, a child abuse pediatric expert, can you explain what those credentials are?

[36:19] How does that expert have time to treat patients as well? What kind of background does a child pediatric expert have?

[38:14] Recent studies show at least 10% of people in prison could be innocent

[39:25] Thanks for watching and listening to this episode of Open Mike!

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