Defending Chauvin Was Not The Crime.

Think about this. You are in a lawsuit about something. You need an expert witness to support your contentions. You call a good one and are told, “ Hey, after what happened to David Fowler, I simply couldn’t do it.”

In the Washington Post today, there is a sympathetic report that David Fowler, past Chief Medical Examiner in Maryland, is having his prior cases reviewed seeking to reveal a past criminal intent.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/maryland-medical-examiner-investigation-chavin-testimony/2021/04/23/61951580-a2ed-11eb-85fc-06664ff4489d_story.html

Fowler testified in support of varied causalities in the death of George Floyd. I am a physician and what he said was a legitimate perspective. Perspective and opinion are what a defense of anything demands. A former Chief Medical Examiner in DC, however, wrote to the Attorney General of Maryland saying that Fowler’s testimony was “ baseless”, which is a legitimate review and it “ revealed obvious bias”. These last words are hemlock.

This was a murder charge and the essential element is an assumption that the State must prove its case. To do so, it has to defend. If it cannot, and clearly this will stop or limit those willing to speak for you , it breaks the branch at the root. Nothing in Fowler’s testimony was a bias. It was his medical diagnosis but vultures were sitting in the cheap seats and the message had to be made clear. To bear your witness makes you part of the crime.

I cannot fathom that this request/demand , to the drooling glee of the WAPO writer, was taken seriously. For all I know, the AG response may have been, dismissively pro forma, as in “ I will call you in the morning” but it sounded like cat’s cream. How much better does it get when convicting one racist than getting a shot at anyone who defended him? Defense is no defense.

But dear keepers of the guillotine basket, it does not stop there. The request stretched out its talons and demanded a review of Fowler’s medical license. This is just too delicious. The punishment, like Simpson’s gloves, must be made to fit. For those who do not know, just bringing Fowler up for Medical Review will end his career as a medical expert. This gives intimidating a jury a good name.

At some level, I should not be surprised. Almost all societies have a lipstick on a pig element buried in them. The funny thing about really horrific events is that they are obvious when looking back at them, but did not seem so bad as they emerged, day to day, person to person, group to group, class to class,

Neighborhood to neighborhood.

As far as I can tell, we have no Emile Zola to turn to. No great advocate of our system, no moral voice of such resonance. This is not , in any way, a Dreyfus case. But Zola was not merely speaking for Dreyfus but against something. His clarion words were not,” I support” but “ J’accuse”, “ I accuse.

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Joel B. Levine MD

Joel B. Levine MD

Professor of Medicine , essayist, practitioner, basic research and education ; reflections on medicine and modern society