The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons Medical Examiner
W. R. Anderson
As a forensic pathologist I’ve been involved in thousands of cases involving deaths wherein there is some suspicious circumstance, the death is related to trauma and the cause and mechanism of injury may become important, the cause of death is unknown, or is the result of the action of another—particularly instances of homicide, medical negligence or when the victim is under the control of a State agency, such as in police custody.
While there is an increased interest in forensic science on the part of the citizenry, often as in any field, some of the intricacies involved in the actual practice of those sciences may not be particularly apparent to them. And sometimes this obscuring may be other than inadvertent.
One of the objectives of this series of case studies by our fictional medical sleuth is to uncover some of the problems that are often ‘under the radar’ of the people not directly associated with the field, as is the case with all of us when dealing with areas that we don’t encounter every day.
Hopefully, this will be at least a little informative.
I think the general public, including when those folks serve on juries, have the impression that forensic science is an exact process, and very black-and-white, basically immune from the outside influences that might tend to prejudice a case. The reality is quite different with often considerable political pressures being exerted to come up with a result that will help the prosecution (the State) which most often is the employer of the very scientists who are trying to be ‘independent’.
In the late 1800’s the birth of forensic science was fostered to some extent at least, by a number of writers who featured protagonists who utilized investigative techniques and critical thinking in their approach to solving crimes—and some real ways enlightened people as to how science might vastly improve law enforcement investigations.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes would obviously stand out as a prime example of what I am referencing. Holmes not only used deductive reasoning in his approach to investigative problems, but also suggested many avenues wherein science, including chemistry and forensic analysis, could help solve crimes.
It really is these types of methodologies seemingly pure ‘science fiction’ at the time, that led to the development of many of the disciplines we now have in the field of forensic science and pathology.
Now that the science has been established, it is necessary to critically address the potential problems that might arise when actual people perform these ‘scientific’ exams, and the human errors that would possibly compromise the integrity and accuracy of those determinations.
Despite the precision and objectivity that science brings to the field of forensic analysis, we must remember that although the methods and techniques are accurate and free from bias, the humans that perform those techniques and utilize those methods are a different story, and subject to the potential for errors in the performance of the analysis, as well as potential bias in the equally important interpretation of the results that they generate.
We see in all of the cases that Dr. Arthur Lyons investigates that while the facts may be relatively clear and straight forward, the issues can be rapidly clouded and complicated when the politics of human nature becomes involved.
There is consistently the most frequent problem that is encountered by our hero, and in reality reflects situations encountered almost daily by forensic sciences in dealing with a legal system that places a priority on winning, and scientists that are trying to bring objective analyses of medicolegal situations to the court—with the goal of educating the jury to the truths they are trying to explain.
It is important that potential biases be recognized in order that the public doesn’t automatically equate ‘forensic science’ with absolute fact when confronted with information that might be presented to them as irrefutable ‘scientific fact’ most critically when they deal with some aspect of the criminal justice system. In this case, it is good to be skeptical!
As a practicing physician and forensic pathologist and having experienced many of the issues in common with our protagonist Dr. Lyons, this seemed to be an area that I knew at least a little about, and since these are fictional accounts, they are constructed in a manner to address some of the real-life issues encountered in the practice of forensic pathology in the real world.
As I indicated earlier, although the case studies are fictional and not necessarily base upon actual case situations, the issues addressed were based upon a composite of experiences and problems encountered in the real-world medical practices of many forensic pathologists.
There are a number of concerns addressed in each of the case studies in Volume One, that include the political intrigue and cover-up in the ‘Rough Ride’ case, the failure to acknowledge the clear evidence of a non-accidental death in the ‘Gym Mat’ case, and the conviction of a young Black teenager, fleeing a law enforcement officer firing indiscriminately into a darkened vehicle—claiming that he ‘ran over’ that officer despite the absence of impact injuries and a dashcam video that clearly refuted the facts upon which he was convicted.
Well we’re still in the early stages of getting this project off the ground, but we’re using FaceBook primarily as well as email to various contacts. The plan is to continue as e-book on Amazon and within a few months expand to at least a paperback format.
Everybody has areas of expertise, and it is usually in those areas that the person is most knowledgeable and consequently most comfortable.
Personally, I think there is great potential in utilizing real life experiences as the basis for fictionalization and in doing so can extract certain factual situations and expand them thru ‘poetic license’ to address larger issues—utilizing this as a potential vehicle to both enhance awareness of a problem and provide impetus for action to correct it.
There is, either happily or unfortunately, (depending your perspective) a plethora of cases both from recent events and from my professional experience that continue to address the issues and raise the controversies that fueled the first volume of case studies.
Clearly we title the first book as ‘Volume 1” indicating that there were more to come and consequently plan to have a second installment in the series ready for publication by late summer of this year (2019), which will include several more case studies addressing the problems and the successes of our hero in the pursuit of justice in the practice of forensic medicine.
You can read the review of W.R. Anderson’s book here!From backpacks and planners, to study guides and textbooks, B&N has everything you need to start off the second semester right
Anthony Avina, (Born March 1990), is an author, a journalist, and a blogger. Born in Southern California, he has battled through injuries, disabilities, moves back and forth across the country, and more, yet still maintains a creative voice that he hopes to use not only to entertain but to inspire hope in even the darkest situations. He writes short stories and novels in several genres, and is also a seasoned journalist for the online magazine, On Request Magazine, as well as the popular site TheGamer. Having grown up reading the books of Dean Koontz and Stephen King, they inspired him to write new and exciting stories that delved into the minds of richly developed characters. He constantly tries to write stories that have never been told before, and to paint a picture in your mind while you are reading the book, as if you could see every scene of the book as if it were a movie you were watching. His stories will get your imaginations working, and will also show that in spite of the most despairing and horrific situations, hope is never out of reach. He am always writing, and so there will never be a shortage of new stories for your reading pleasure. http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com