Disturbing Possible Florida Criminal Charges Against Dr. Michael Berkland

August 22, 2012 by David S. Seltzer

Florida State attorney’s office may file criminal charges against Dr. Michael Berkland, an associated medical examiner who had stored massive amounts of human remains in a storage unit at Uncle Bob’s storage on East Fairfield Drive.

Dr. Berkland alleged conducted autopsies privately for about a decade – from 1997 to 2007 – at Florida funeral homes and other places in Panama City. Like something out of a bad episode of American Pickers, Dr. Berkland’s grisly storage surprise was discovered when a buyer purchased the storage unit in question at an auction. After discovering the remains of over 100 people, including 10 brains and remains of tissues like hearts and lungs, the buyer alerted the Pensacola Police Department.

Dr. Andi Minyard, a medical examiner working with police investigators to try to clean up the mess and understand what happened, said that “it’s a horrible thing to know that your uncle’s brain is sitting in some storage shed that got sold at an auction.”

Dr. Berkland was fired from the medical examiner’s office in 2003 for failing to fill out autopsy reports and for maintaining a big backlog of cases. Minyard said that the reconstructing what happened might be difficult, since “several of the tissue buckets and several of the brains don’t have any labels on them at all, so we have no idea who they would have belonged to.”

The incident highlights how “quirky stuff” can go wrong in your Florida criminal investigation.

Most people – and definitely most defendants – assume that Florida investigators and police and others involved in the system are capable of exhibiting a degree of competency. But as this situation illustrates, strange “stuff” can throw off any investigation and potentially complicate your case in multiple, diverse, and difficult to detect ways.

For instance, if you can show how bad police impacted your case, you might be able to get exonerated or at least reduce your charges… just on the basis of the incompetent police work itself. On the other hand, police or investigatory errors can make your life more complicated and potentially inadvertently lead to unfairly harsh sentences.

To understand your rights and potential leverage, connect with the team at Seltzer Law at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE -- 1-888-843-3333 -- for sound, effective, and clearheaded defense thinking. Call us any time of day or night to schedule your free case evaluation.