Coroner
Overview
 
A coroner is a government official who
  • Investigates human deaths
  • Determines cause of death
  • Issues death certificates
  • Maintains death records
  • Responds to deaths in mass disasters
  • Identifies unknown dead
  • Other functions depending on local laws

Local laws define the deaths a coroner must investigate, but most often include those that are sudden, unexpected, and have no attending physician—and deaths that are suspicious or violent.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A coroner is a government official who
  • Investigates human deaths
  • Determines cause of death
  • Issues death certificates
  • Maintains death records
  • Responds to deaths in mass disasters
  • Identifies unknown dead
  • Other functions depending on local laws

Local laws define the deaths a coroner must investigate, but most often include those that are sudden, unexpected, and have no attending physician—and deaths that are suspicious or violent. In some places in the United States, a coroner has other special powers, such as the ability to arrest the county sheriff. In the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries, coroners often make recommendations for safety practices that may prevent deaths.

Not all U.S. jurisdictions use a coroner system for medicolegal death investigation—some are on a medical examiner system, others are on a mixed coroner-medical examiner system. In the U.S., the terms "coroner" and "medical examiner" vary widely in meaning by jurisdiction, as do qualifications and duties for these offices.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the coroner may adjudge the cause of death personally, or may act as the presiding officer of a special court
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

 (a "coroner's jury"). The office of coroner originated in medieval England and has been adopted in many countries whose legal systems have at some time been subject to English or United Kingdom law. The additional roles that a coroner may oversee in judicial investigations may be subject to the attainment of suitable legal and medical qualifications. The qualifications required of a coroner vary significantly between jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s, and are described under the entry for each jurisdiction.

Canada

In Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, two systems exist in investigating all unnatural, unexpected, unexplained, or unattended deaths: coroner or medical examiner. While the name differs, they act in similar capacities as they do not determine civil or criminal responsibility but instead, make and offer recommendations to improve public safety and prevention of death in similar circumstances.

Coroner services in Canada are under the jurisdiction of Provincial or Territorial government, within the public safety and security or justice portfolio depending on location. Coroner service is headed by a Chief Coroner (or Chief Medical Examiner) and is supported by a team of coroners or medical examiners are appointed by the executive council
Executive Council (Commonwealth countries)
An Executive Council in Commonwealth constitutional practice based on the Westminster system is a constitutional organ which exercises executive power and advises the governor or governor-general. Executive Councils often make decisions via Orders in Council.Executive Councillors are informally...

.

In the provinces of Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

, and Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

, all coroners are, by law, physicians. In these instances, they are not coroners, but medical examiners.

In all other provinces and territories, namely British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

, Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, and Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

, coroners are not necessarily physicians but generally have legal, medical, or investigative backgrounds.

England and Wales

In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 a coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed and paid for by the relevant local authority
Local government in the United Kingdom
The pattern of local government in England is complex, with the distribution of functions varying according to the local arrangements. Legislation concerning local government in England is decided by the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom, because England does not have a devolved...

. The Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Justice is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, who is responsible for improvements to the justice system so that it better serves the public...

, which is headed by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 has the responsibility for the coronial law and policy only, and no operational responsibility.

History

The post of coroner is ancient, dating from approximately the 11th century, shortly after the Norman conquest
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 of England in 1066.

The office of Coroner was formally established in England by Article 20 of the "Articles of Eyre" in September 1194 to "keep the pleas of the Crown" (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, custos placitorum coronae) from which the word "coroner" is derived. This role provided a local county
Counties of the United Kingdom
The counties of the United Kingdom are subnational divisions of the United Kingdom, used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation. By the Middle Ages counties had become established as a unit of local government, at least in England. By the early 17th century all...

 official whose primary duty was to protect the financial interest of the crown in criminal proceedings. The office of coroner is, "in many instances, a necessary substitute: for if the sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 is interested in a suit, or if he is of affinity with one of the parties to a suit, the coroner must execute and return the process of the courts of justice." This role was qualified in Chapter 24 of Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 in 1215, which states: "No sheriff, constable, coroner or bailiff shall hold pleas of our Crown." "Keeping the pleas" was an administrative task, while "holding the pleas" was a judicial one that was not assigned to the locally resident coroner but left to judges who traveled around the country holding Assize Courts. The role of Custos rotulorum
Custos rotulorum
Custos rotulorum is the keeper of an English county's records and, by virtue of that office, the highest civil officer in the county...

 or keeper of the county records became an independent office, which after 1836 was held by the Lord Lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant
The title Lord Lieutenant is given to the British monarch's personal representatives in the United Kingdom, usually in a county or similar circumscription, with varying tasks throughout history. Usually a retired local notable, senior military officer, peer or business person is given the post...

 of each county. The person who found a body from a death thought sudden or unnatural was required to raise the "hue and cry
Hue and cry
In common law, a hue and cry is a process by which bystanders are summoned to assist in the apprehension of a criminal who has been witnessed in the act of committing a crime.By the Statute of Winchester of 1285, 13 Edw. I cc...

" and to notify the coroner.

Coroners were introduced into Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 following its military conquest by Edward I of England
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 in 1282 through the Statute of Rhuddlan
Statute of Rhuddlan
The Statute of Rhuddlan , also known as the Statutes of Wales or as the Statute of Wales provided the constitutional basis for the government of the Principality of North Wales from 1284 until 1536...

 in 1284.

Qualification

To become a coroner in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 the applicant must have a degree in a medical or legal field, e.g., criminology or bio-medical sciences. Generally, coroners have had a previous career as a lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 (solicitor
Solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

/barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

) or physician 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 custody
Prison cell
A prison cell or holding cell or lock-up is a small room in a prison, or police station where a prisoner is held.Prison cells are usually about 6 by 8 feet in size with steel or brick walls and one solid or barred door that locks from the outside. Many modern prison cells are pre-cast. Solid doors...

).

Aside from the usual coroners, certain persons are ex officio coroners in limited circumstances — for example the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 has been historically allowed to certify the death of someone killed in rebellion.

Inquest

The coroner's jurisdiction is limited to determining who the deceased was and how, when and where they came by their death. When the death is suspected to have been either sudden with unknown cause, violent, or unnatural, the coroner decides whether to hold a post-mortem and, if necessary, an inquest
Inquest
Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove"...

.

Verdict

The coroner's former power to name a suspect for trial upon inquisition
Inquisitorial system
An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense...

 has been abolished. The coroner's verdict sometimes is persuasive for the police and Crown Prosecution Service
Crown Prosecution Service
The Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales. Its role is similar to that of the longer-established Crown Office in Scotland, and the...

, 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 is also relied upon in civil proceedings
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 and insurance
Insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

 claims. The coroner commonly tells the jury which verdicts are lawfully available in a particular case.

The most common verdicts include:
  • Death by natural causes
  • Death by misadventure
  • Accidental death
  • Lawful killing
  • Suicide
    Suicide
    Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

  • Unlawful killing
    Unlawful killing
    In English law unlawful killing is a verdict that can be returned by an inquest in England and Wales when someone has been killed by one or several unknown persons. The verdict means that the killing was done without lawful excuse and in breach of criminal law. This includes murder, manslaughter,...

  • Occupational disease
    Occupational disease
    An occupational disease is any chronic ailment that occurs as a result of work or occupational activity. It is an aspect of occupational safety and health. An occupational disease is typically identified when it is shown that it is more prevalent in a given body of workers than in the general...

  • Drug dependence
  • Non-dependent drug abuse
  • Attempted abortion
  • Self-induced abortion
  • Disaster (but only if it has been the subject of a public enquiry)
  • Still birth
  • Self-neglect
    Self-neglect
    Self-neglect is a behavioural condition in which an individual neglects to attend to their basic needs, such as personal hygiene, appropriate clothing, feeding, or tending appropriately to any medical conditions they have. Extreme self-neglect can be known as Diogenes...

  • Lack of care/neglect
  • An open verdict
    Open verdict
    The Open verdict is an option open to a Coroner's jury at an Inquest in the legal system of England and Wales. The verdict strictly means that the jury confirms that the death is suspicious but is unable to reach any of the other verdicts open to them...

  • A narrative verdict
    Narrative verdict
    A narrative verdict is a verdict available to coroners in England and Wales following an inquest. In such a verdict the circumstances of a death are recorded without attributing the cause to a named individual. Narrative verdicts were introduced in 2004....


Jurisdiction

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
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. The coroner has a team of Coroner's Officers (previously often ex-police officers, but increasingly so from a nursing or other paramedical background) who carry out the investigation on the coroner's behalf. On the basis of the investigation, the coroner decides whether an inquest is appropriate. When a person dies in the custody of the legal authorities (in police cells, or in prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

), 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 lying are guilty of perjury
Perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

.

Additional powers of the coroner may include the power of subpoena
Subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

 and attachment
Attachment (law)
Attachment is a legal process by which a court of law, at the request of a creditor, designates specific property owned by the debtor to be transferred to the creditor, or sold for the benefit of the creditor. A wide variety of legal mechanisms are employed by debtors to prevent the attachment of...

, the power of arrest
Power of arrest
The power of arrest is a mandate given to certain members of a society by the central authority that allows them to remove a criminal or suspected criminal's liberty. The power of arrest can also be used to protect a person, or persons from harm or to protect damage to property.Arrest usually leads...

, the power to administer oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

s, and sequester
Sequestration (law)
Sequestration is the act of removing, separating, or seizing anything from the possession of its owner under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state.-Etymology:...

 juries of six during inquests.

Coroners also have a role in treasure trove
Treasure trove
A treasure trove may broadly be defined as an amount of money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion found hidden underground or in places such as cellars or attics, where the treasure seems old enough for it to be presumed that the true owner is dead and the heirs undiscoverable...

 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
Treasure Act 1996
The Treasure Act of 1996 is an Act of Parliament designed to deal with finds of treasure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; it does not apply in Scotland. It legally obliges finders of objects which constitute a legally defined term of treasure to report their find to their local coroner...

.

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
    • Cremation orders
    • Waivers of autopsy
    • Autopsy orders
    • Exhumation orders
    • Orders to remove dead bodies outside Hong Kong
  • Order police investigations of death
  • Order inquests
  • Approve removal and use of body parts of the dead body
  • Issue certificates of fact of death


The Coroner makes orders after considering the pathologist's report.

New Zealand

Two Coronial Services operate in New Zealand. The older one deals only with deaths before midnight of 30 June 2007 that remain under investigation. The new system operates under the Coroners Act 2006, which:
  • Established the office of the chief coroner to provide leadership and coordination
  • Moved to a smaller number of mostly full-time legally qualified coroners
  • Ensured families are notified of significant steps in the coronial process
  • Introduced a specific regime for attention and release of body parts and body samples
  • Enhanced inquiry and inquest processes

Northern Ireland

Coronial Services in Northern Ireland are broadly similar to those in England and Wales, including dealing with Treasure Trove
Treasure trove
A treasure trove may broadly be defined as an amount of money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion found hidden underground or in places such as cellars or attics, where the treasure seems old enough for it to be presumed that the true owner is dead and the heirs undiscoverable...

 under the Treasure Act 1996
Treasure Act 1996
The Treasure Act of 1996 is an Act of Parliament designed to deal with finds of treasure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; it does not apply in Scotland. It legally obliges finders of objects which constitute a legally defined term of treasure to report their find to their local coroner...

.

Scotland

Scotland has no system of coronial investigation. Deaths requiring judicial examination are dealt with by Fatal Accident Inquiries
Fatal accident inquiry
A fatal accident inquiry is a Scottish judicial process which investigates and determines the circumstances of some deaths occurring in Scotland...

.

Japan

In Japan, the coroner's office assists with investigations. Members of the coroner's office are police detective
Detective
A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

s with field experience. Investigators typically hold the rank of captain and have studied forensic medicine and investigation techniques at the National Police Academy.

United States

, of the 2,342 death investigation offices in the United States, 1,590 are coroners offices. Of those, only 82 serve jurisdictions of more than 250,000 people. Qualifications for coroners are set by individual states and counties in the U.S. and vary widely. In many jurisdictions, little or no training is required, even though a coroner may overrule a forensic pathologist in naming a cause of death. A coroner may be elected or appointed. Some coroners hold office by virtue of holding another office: in Nebraska, the county district attorney is the coroner; in many counties in Texas, the Justice of the Peace may be in charge of death investigation; in other places, the sheriff is the coroner.

Because of the differences between jurisdictions, the terms "coroner" and "medical examiner" are defined differently from place to place. In some places, stringent rules require that the medical examiner be a forensic pathologist. In others, the medical examiner must be a physician, though not necessarily a forensic pathologist or even a pathologist. General practitioners, obstetricians, and other types of physicians with no experience in forensic medicine have become medical examiners. In others, such as Wisconsin, each county sets standards, and in some, the medical examiner does not need to meet any medical or educational qualifications of any type.

Duties

Duties always include determining the cause, time, 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 dies outside of his/her state of residence, the coroner of the state in which the death took place issues the death certificate. Only a small percentage of deaths require an autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 to determine the time, cause and manner of death.

In some states, additional functions are handled by the coroner. For example, in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, coroners are involved in the determination of mental illness of living persons. In Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, the coroner has the same powers as a county sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 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), s/he officially acts as sheriff for the county. In Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, section 72.415 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes
Kentucky Revised Statutes
Kentucky Revised Statutes is the name given to the body of laws which govern the Commonwealth of Kentucky, United States. They are created pursuant to the Kentucky Constitution and must conform to the limitations set out in the Constitutions of Kentucky and the United States...

 gives coroners and their deputies the full power and authority of peace officer
Peace officer
A law enforcement officer , in North America, is any public-sector employee or agent whose duties involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, prison officers, customs officers, immigration officers, bailiffs, probation officers, parole officers, auxiliary officers, and...

s. This includes the power of arrest and the authority to carry firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

s. In New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the office of coroner was actually abolished in 1915, since before that time, having medical knowledge was not actually a requirement, leading to much abuse of position.

Notable coroners

  • Larry Campbell
    Larry Campbell
    Larry W. Campbell was the 37th Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is currently a member of the Canadian Senate. Starting in 1969 Campbell worked for the RCMP in Vancouver and then in 1973 as a member of the Drug Squad...

  • John C. Fleming
  • J. Howell Flournoy
    J. Howell Flournoy
    Joseph Howell Flournoy was the sheriff of Caddo Parish based in Shreveport, Louisiana, from 1940 until his death in office...

  • Alexander Fulton
    Alexander Fulton (Louisiana)
    Alexander Fulton was a merchant, planter, and local politician originally from Washington, near Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, who in 1805 founded the city of Alexandria, Louisiana, which he named for himself....

  • Morton Shulman
    Morton Shulman
    Morton Shulman, OC was a Canadian politician, businessman, broadcaster, columnist, coroner, and physician.-Biography:...

  • Graham Hetrick
  • Charles Norris
    Charles Norris (medical examiner)
    Charles Norris was New York's first appointed chief medical examiner and pioneer of forensic toxicology in America.-Early life:...

  • Thomas Noguchi
    Thomas Noguchi
    is a former Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner for the County of Los Angeles, who served in that position from 1967 to 1982. Known as the "coroner to the stars", he determined the cause of death in many high profile cases. He is most famous for performing autopsies on Marilyn Monroe, Robert F...


Film

  • In the song "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead," from the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz
    The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
    The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs...

    , the Coroner of Munchkinland confirms the death of the Wicked Witch of the East
    Wicked Witch of the East
    The Wicked Witch of the East is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum in his Oz series of books....

    .

Literature

(The following entries are organized by author's last name)
  • Patricia Cornwell
    Patricia Cornwell
    Patricia Cornwell is a contemporary American crime writer. She is widely known for writing a popular series of novels featuring the heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner.-Early life:...

     is a crime novelist well known for her creation of Dr. Kay Scarpetta
    Kay Scarpetta
    Kay Scarpetta is a fictional character and protagonist in a series of crime novels written by Patricia Cornwell. The character is based on former Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro, MD. The series is noted for the use of recent forensic technology in Scarpetta's investigations.-...

    , a fictional medical examiner based on the Commonwealth of Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    's former Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Marcella Fierro.
  • Novelist Bernard Knight
    Bernard Knight
    Professor Bernard Knight, CBE, became a Home Office pathologist in 1965 and was appointed Professor of Forensic Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, in 1980. He was awarded the CBE in 1993 for services to forensic medicine....

    , a former Home Office
    Home Office
    The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service . It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs,...

     pathologist and a professor of forensic pathology
    Forensic pathology
    Forensic pathology is a branch of pathology concerned with determining the cause of death by examination of a corpse. The autopsy is performed by the pathologist at the request of a coroner or medical examiner usually during the investigation of criminal law cases and civil law cases in some...

     at the University of Wales College of Medicine
    University of Wales College of Medicine
    The University of Wales College of Medicine was a medical school based in the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, that formed a part of the University of Wales...

    , is well known for his Crowner John Mysteries
    Crowner John Mysteries
    The Crowner John Mysteries are a series of novels by Bernard Knight following the fictional life of one Sir John de Wolfe, a former Crusading Knight appointed to the office of Keeper of the Pleas of the King's Crown i.e...

     series set in 12th century Devon
    Devon
    Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

    , England. ("Crowner" is an archaic word for "coroner" and is based on the origins of the word. See the History section above.)

Television

Although coroners are often depicted in police dramas
Police procedural
The police procedural is a subgenre of detective fiction which attempts to convincingly depict the activities of a police force as they investigate crimes. While traditional detective novels usually concentrate on a single crime, police procedurals frequently depict investigations into several...

 as a source of information for detectives, there are a number of fictional coroners who have taken particular focus on television. (The following entries are alphabetized by program title.)
  • Autopsy is a sub-series of HBO's America Undercover
    America Undercover
    America Undercover is a television series of documentaries that airs on the cable television network HBO. Within the series are several sub-series, such as "Autopsy", "Real Sex" and "Taxicab Confessions". The series began in 1983 and, after a brief time being broadcast weekly in 2001, is now...

    documentary series
    Documentary film
    Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

    . Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden
    Michael Baden
    Michael M. Baden is a physician and board-certified forensic pathologist known for his work investigating high-profile deaths and as a host of HBO's Autopsy. He is also the Forensic Science Contributor for Fox News Channel...

     is the primary analyst, and has been involved personally in many of the cases that are reviewed.
  • The coroner is a significant character on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an American crime drama television series, which premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. The show was created by Anthony E. Zuiker and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer...

    , CSI: Miami
    CSI: Miami
    CSI: Miami is an American police procedural television series, which premiered on September 23, 2002 on CBS. The series is a spin-off of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation....

    , and CSI: NY
    CSI: NY
    CSI: NY is an American police procedural television series that premiered on September 22, 2004, on CBS. The show follows the investigations of a team of NYPD forensic scientists and police officers as they unveil the circumstances behind mysterious and unusual deaths as well as other crimes...

    .
  • The lead character in the television series, Crossing Jordan
    Crossing Jordan
    Crossing Jordan is an American television crime/drama series that aired on NBC from September 24, 2001 to May 16, 2007. It stars Jill Hennessy as Jordan Cavanaugh, M.D., a crime-solving forensic pathologist employed in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Medical Examiner's Office...

    , is a medical examiner.
  • The television series Da Vinci's Inquest
    Da Vinci's Inquest
    Da Vinci's Inquest is a Canadian dramatic television series that aired on CBC Television from 1998 to 2005. Seven seasons of thirteen episodes each were filmed for a total of ninety-one episodes....

    has a coroner as its title character.
  • Dr. G: Medical Examiner
    Dr. G: Medical Examiner
    Dr. G: Medical Examiner is a reality television series shown on the Discovery Fit & Health. Dr. G, or Dr. Jan Garavaglia, is the Chief Medical Examiner with Florida's District Nine Medical Examiner's office in Orlando, Florida.This series features Dr...

    is a reality television
    Reality television
    Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded...

     show shown on the Discovery Fit & Health
    Discovery Fit & Health
    Discovery Fit & Health is an American cable television network owned by Discovery Communications dedicated to fitness and health. Launched on February 1, 2011, it is the result of the merger of Discovery Health Channel and FitTV and features programs formerly found on both...

     Channel that shows dramatic reenactments of autopsies
    Autopsy
    An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

     performed by real-life medical examiner, Dr. Jan Garavaglia. Episodes also include interviews with Dr. Garavaglia, family members, and others connected with the cases Dr. Garavaglia has worked on in Florida and Texas.
  • Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, portrayed by actor David McCallum
    David McCallum
    David Keith McCallum, Jr. is a Scottish actor and musician. He is best known for his roles as Illya Kuryakin, a Russian-born secret agent, in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., as interdimensional operative Steel in Sapphire & Steel, and Dr...

    , is a fictional medical examiner on the American television crime drama, NCIS
    NCIS (TV series)
    NCIS, formerly known as NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service, is an American police procedural drama television series revolving around a fictional team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts criminal investigations involving the U.S...

    .
  • Sasha Alexander
    Sasha Alexander
    Sasha Alexander is an American actress. She is best known for several roles, including Gretchen Witter, the sister of Pacey Witter on Dawson's Creek; NCIS Special Agent Kate Todd in the first two seasons of NCIS; as Lucy in Yes Man ; and as Catherine in He's Just Not That Into You .She currently...

     plays the title character of Dr. Maura Isles, MD on the TNT series "Rizzoli & Isles
    Rizzoli & Isles
    Rizzoli & Isles is a TNT television series starring Angie Harmon as police detective Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander as medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles. The one-hour drama is based on the Rizzoli & Isles series of novels by Tess Gerritsen...

    ", the Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner.
  • The television series, Quincy, M.E.
    Quincy, M.E.
    Quincy, M.E., also called Quincy, is a United States television series from Universal Studios that aired from October 3, 1976, to September 5, 1983, on NBC...

    (and its Canadian ancestor, Wojeck
    Wojeck
    Wojeck is a Canadian dramatic television series, which aired on the CBC from 1966 to 1968. It was the first successful drama series on English Canadian television....

    ), has a coroner as its title character.
  • The television series, Wojeck
    Wojeck
    Wojeck is a Canadian dramatic television series, which aired on the CBC from 1966 to 1968. It was the first successful drama series on English Canadian television....

    (the Canadian ancestor of Quincy, M.E.
    Quincy, M.E.
    Quincy, M.E., also called Quincy, is a United States television series from Universal Studios that aired from October 3, 1976, to September 5, 1983, on NBC...

    ), has a coroner as its title character, inspired by the coroner Dr. Morton Shulman
    Morton Shulman
    Morton Shulman, OC was a Canadian politician, businessman, broadcaster, columnist, coroner, and physician.-Biography:...

    .

Body of Proof
Body of Proof
Body of Proof is an American medical drama television series created by Chris Murphey and produced by ABC Studios. Starring Dana Delany as medical examiner Dr. Megan Hunt, the series premiered on March 29, 2011 on ABC....

, starring Dana Delany
Dana Delany
Dana Welles Delany is an American film, stage, and television actress, producer, host and health activist.After various roles in the early career, Delany garnered her first leading role in 1987 in the short-lived NBC sitcom Sweet Surrender and achieved wider fame in 1988–1991 as Colleen McMurphy...

 as Dr. Megan Hunt
Megan Hunt
Dr. Megan Hunt is a fictional character created by television producer Christopher Murphey for the ABC television series Body of Proof. The character is played by Dana Delany.- Overview :...

 on the ABC Network
ABC Network
ABC Network may refer to any of the following:*American Broadcasting Company, a private television network in the United States.*Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, regional radio and television broadcaster in Japan....

 is about a medical examiner
Medical examiner
A medical examiner is a medically qualified government officer whose duty is to investigate deaths and injuries that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances, to perform post-mortem examinations, and in some jurisdictions to initiate inquests....

 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

.

External links


Official websites

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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