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Thread: Coroner & Coroner's Inquest

  1. #1
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    Red face Coroner & Coroner's Inquest

    A coroner is either the presiding officer of a special court, a medical officer or an officer of law responsible for investigating deaths, particularly those happening under unusual circumstances.

    Many jurisdictions have a coroner, or their equivalent (medical examiner is a frequent alternative title in the United States).

    England and Wales
    In England and Wales a coroner is a judicial officer appointed and paid for by the local authority. The coronial system has recently come under the control of the Department for Constitutional Affairs which is headed by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

    The post of coroner is ancientódating from around the 11th Century, shortly after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. However, in its current form it dates from the 19th Century, and due to widespread dissatisfaction with the legal framework under which coroners operate, it looks likely that the role will be reformed again in the coming years.

    To become a coroner in England and Wales the applicant must be a lawyer (solicitor/barrister) or doctor of at least five years standing. This reflects the role of a coroner, to determine the cause of death of a deceased in cases where the death was sudden, unexpected, occurred abroad, was suspicious in any way or happened while the person was under the control of central authority (e.g., in police cells).

    Aside from the usual coroners, certain persons are ex officio coroners in limited circumstances - for example the Lord Chancellor has been historically allowed to certify the death of someone killed in rebellion.

    The coroner's jurisdiction is now limited to finding the name of the deceased, and the cause of death. When the deceased died an unexpected, violent or unnatural death, the coroner will decide whether to hold a post-mortem and if necessary an inquest. If he or she decides to do so, the most common verdicts which he or she may return include: death by misadventure, accidental death, unlawful killing, lawful killing, suicide, natural causes and an open verdict. The coroner's former power to name a suspect for trial upon inquisition has been abolished. The coroner's verdict will sometimes be persuasive for the police and Crown Prosecution Service, but normally proceedings in the coroner's court are suspended until after the final outcome of any criminal case is known. More usually, a coroner's verdict will also frequently be relied upon in civil proceedings and insurance claims.

    "Lawful killing" includes lawful self-defence, or where a doctor lawfully administers a painkiller from which the patient dies.

    Any person aware of a dead body lying in the district of a coroner has a duty to report it to the coroner; failure to do so is an offence. This can include bodies brought into England or Wales (for example, when Diana, Princess of Wales died in France when her body was returned it was dealt with by a coroner in England). The coroner has an assistant (usually an ex-policeman) who will carry out the investigation on his or her behalf and on the basis of that the coroner will decide whether an inquest is appropriate. When a person dies in the custody of the legal authorities (in police cells, or in prison), an inquest must be held. In England, inquests are usually heard without a jury (unless the coroner wants one). However, a case in which a person has died under the control of central authority must have a jury, as a check on the possible abuse of governmental power.

    The coroner's court is a court of law, and accordingly the coroner may summon witnesses, and people found to be lying are guilty of perjury.

    Coroners also have a role in Treasure Trove cases. This role arose from the ancient duty of the coroner as a protector of the property of The Crown. It is now contained in the Treasure Act 1996.

    United States

    An elected Coroner receives endorsements at reelection time. Photo: Stan ZegelCoroners in the United States are often elected officials, usually of a county. As finders of fact, they retain quasi-judicial powers such as the power of subpoena, and in some states they also have the power to impanel juries of inquest, but unlike their British equivalents, they are not judicial officers. They are traditionally considered to be executive branch officials. Furthermore, American coroners are almost always officials of the state government or of the local county government. The federal government is not normally involved in handling dead bodies (with the obvious exception being people who die while serving in the armed forces).

    In the United States, a coroner usually need not be a medical doctor. Historically, in some places (particularly rural areas), the local funeral director often also held the post of coroner.

    Medical Examiners
    Many jurisdictions have replaced the elected coroner with a Medical Examiner (often referred to by the initials "M.E."), who must be a physician, and is most often a specialist in pathology or forensic medicine. In some jurisdictions, a medical examiner must be both a doctor and a lawyer. (The Virginia Institute of Forensic science and Medicine only accepts trainees who already have both M.D. and J.D. degrees.)

    The medical examiner is often an appointed official. This has been seen as part of a move toward professionalizing a job increasingly involved with advanced scientific techniques. In larger cities (for instance, New York City) and more populous counties, the post may be that of "chief medical examiner," heading his or her own office with M.E.s and deputy M.E.s on his or her staff to handle individual cases.

    Other jurisdictions, such as Orange County, California, have merged the legal competencies of a coroner into the office of the Sheriff, whose medical duties as coroner are then delegated to a professional forensic staff of medical examiners, technicians, and such.

    Duties always include determining the time, cause, and manner of death. This uses the same investigatory skills of a police detective in most cases, because the answers are available from the circumstances, scene, and recent medical records. In many American jurisdictions any death not certified by the person's own physician must be referred to the medical examiner. If an individual is to die outside of their state of residence, the coroner of the state in which the death took place shall issue the death certificate. Only a small percentage of deaths require an autopsy to determine the time, cause and manner of death.

    In some states, additional functions are handled by the Coroner. For example, in Louisiana, Coroners are involved in determination of mental illness of living persons. In Georgia, the coroner has the same powers as a county sheriff to execute arrest warrants and serve process, and in certain situations where there is no sheriff (described in Title 15, Chapter 16, Section 8 of Georgia law), they officially act as sheriff for the county. In Kentucky, coroners and their deputies have the full power and authority of peace officers in the commonwealth (described in the Kentucky Revised Statutes, KRS 72.415).

    Hong Kong

    The Coroner's Court is responsible to inquire into the causes and circumstances of certain deaths. The Coroner is a judicial officer who has the power to:

    grant burial orders
    grant cremation orders
    grant waivers of autopsy
    grant autopsy orders
    grant exhumation orders
    grant orders to remove dead bodies outside Hong Kong
    order police investigations of death
    order inquests to be held
    approve removal and use of body parts of the dead body
    issue certificates of fact of death
    The Coroner makes orders after considers the pathologist's report.

    Other jurisdictions
    Other jurisdictions combine the role of coroner with that of public prosecutor such as procurators fiscal in Scotland who have a duty in certifying all deaths in Scotland.

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  2. #2
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    Nov 2006
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    Good notes man..

    Outstanding this one...

    Well presented also...

  3. #3
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    Nov 2007
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    Coroner and coroner's inquest are also present in some part of Bombay and West bengal.

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