Did cash-strapped Kitsap really need 'superstar' forensic psychiatrist?

Pretty much everyone understands the importance of law and order as a concept. And evidently a lot of folks appreciate “Law and Order” the TV show, too.

The question is whether you need to embrace the one to assure the other.

The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office last week announced that it had retained the services of forensic psychologist Park Dietz, whose résumé includes the title of technical advisor to the über-popular television franchise, to dispute the insanity plea of Daniel Mustard, the South Kitsap 18-year-old accused of stabbing to death his elderly neighbor last year.

In addition to his TV work, Dietz has also appeared as an expert witness in the cases of such celebrated criminal suspects as Jeffrey Dahmer, John Hinckley, Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, the Menendez Brothers (retrial), John DuPont, the Unibomber, and New York’s Zodiac Killer — to name just a few.

Clearly, Dietz knows his business. Which is why he’s well-compensated for his efforts.

His fees frequently run into tens of thousands of dollars. In his 2006 appearance in Kitsap County, testifying against Wayne Hower, who was accused and eventually convicted of gunning down convenience store owner Al Kono, Dietz billed the county at a rate of $600 an hour.

Since then, of course, the economy has soured and there have been cutbacks across the board in every Kitsap County Department — much to the annoyance of Prosecutor Russ Hauge, who argued loud and long that his office had already cut its expenses to the bone and couldn’t make do with any less without compromising public safety.

Honestly, we’re as keen on public safety as anyone. But isn’t it just possible a less-celebrated psychologist could have examined Mustard and come to the same conclusion at a fraction of the price?

In tough economic times, did we really need a TV star?

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