Dr. Siebert Reacts

By: Candace White
By: Candace White

14th Judicial District Medical Examiner Charles Siebert is planning to appeal his probation issued by the Florida Medical Examiner's Commission.

Medical examiner Dr. Charles Siebert is holding his head up, but he says the constant media exposure and the recent medical examiner's commission audit has worn him down. After reviewing approximately 700 of his past cases, the commission put Dr. Siebert on probation for the rest of his contract with the 14th Judicial Circuit, which is another 10 months.

They also order him to hire another medical examiner to review all of his work. Siebert will have to pay for that service out of his own pocket.

During their audit, examiners say they found Siebert made 36 professional mistakes. Siebert doesn't agree with those findings.

"Some of the errors that they're pointing out as professional errors aren't actually errors at all according to Florida Statute and Florida Administrative Code."

Siebert admits errors will often happen, but nothing drastic and diagnostic.

"Obviously, mistakes happen. It's unfortunate. In a perfect world people wouldn't make mistakes and I made some mistakes. However, the mistakes that I made aren't things that impacted cause and manner of death."

Dr. Frederick Hobin was assigned to audit Siebert's work after Siebert found 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died of a sickle cell trait.

A second autopsy performed in Tampa showed Anderson died from suffocation, possibly at the hands of Bay County juvenile boot camp drill instructors.

The Anderson case left Siebert open to criticism from other families who had questions about their loved ones autopsies. That led to the medical examiners' commission audit of Siebert's performance.

Hobin's audit report concludes Siebert could and should improve the quality of his autopsy reports by including more detail and more quantitative qualifiers in his description of injuries and disease processes.

As for the audit and his probation, Siebert says this is uncharted and unfair territory.

"An audit like this has never been performed before and I'm being held to a standard that has never even been established. What is a reasonable error rate? Nobody knows, because it's never been done before."

Right now, Siebert and his legal staff are waiting on the final administrative order. From there they'll plan their appeal.

Although it was the Martin Lee Anderson case that put Dr. Siebert under a microscope, the Anderson autopsy was not included in the medical examiner's commission audit because the investigation is still open.

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