Who is the coroner?
The Nez Perce County coroner is an elected position. The primary role of the coroner is to determine and certify the cause, manner, and mechanism of death for those cases which fall under the jurisdiction of the coroner. These include natural, accidental, homicide, and suicide.
Who calls the coroner?
Any person who believes that a death has occurred under circumstances set out in the Code must immediately notify the coroner.
Why is a coroner called when death is due to natural causes?
The coroner investigates many types of death, such as those due to foul play, suicide, and accidents. However, he must also investigate natural deaths when they fall under certain criteria. For the following deaths:
- Are sudden and unexpected
- Are from illness not under treatment or not attended by a qualified physician
- Occur in certain types of institutions
- Raise questions that only can be answered fairly by an investigation.
Who performs the autopsy?
The coroner directs a qualified specialist in pathology to conduct the examination and may request special examination of particular organs or fluids by other experts.
Is an autopsy required in every case?
No. The coroner is trained and has experience which enables him to decide if the findings required by law can be determined without an autopsy.
Is consent required for a medical-legal autopsy?
No. Where there are objections, the coroner will explain the need for the autopsy. Autopsies often help answer questions regarding the cause of death and the heredity of diseases.
Will an autopsy delay funeral arrangements?
In general the answer is no. However, if a portion of the investigation, for example identification of the deceased, may cause a delay, your funeral director will advise you.
Will there be an inquest?
Inquests are held on all persons that have been involved with a law enforcement officer at the time of their death. Inquests can also be held at the coroner’s discretion. The coroner may hold an inquest when circumstances relating to a death needs to be brought to the attention of the public, or when the identity of the deceased, the date, place or cause of death has not been established or when it is unknown how a death occurred.
If there is an inquest, does the family have to attend?
No, unless a member of the family has been called as a witness.
Why does law enforcement investigate?
Law enforcement responds to all emergency calls and are often the first to arrive on scene. Their experience, training and resources that are available to them enable the coroner to carry out as complete an investigation as possible.