Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coroner Authority

I’m working on an article for our 2nd quarterly newsletter for local fire departments. At least partly because of a recent incident (ah yes, there are some of those), I’ve pulled together some quotes from IL statutes and IL Attorney General Opinions that I am attempting to write the article around. My intent with the article is to speak of our desire for a spirit of cooperation among agencies investigating deaths, while making it clear that the coroner’s office has a certain level of authority that should not be interfered with in these cases and that we have the right to assert that authority.

The “quotes” include:

“Each coroner shall be conservator of the peace in his county, and in the performance of his duties as such, shall have the same powers as the sheriff.”

“…inquire into the manner by which persons came to their death where there was any reason to suppose the death might not have been due to natural means”

“No dead body…or the personal property of such a deceased person, shall be handled, moved, disturbed, embalmed or removed…by any person, except with the permission of the coroner, unless…necessary to protect such body or property from damage or destruction, or unless necessary to protect life, safety, or health.”

“…specific grant of authority to coroners to investigate deaths would necessarily prevail over the general law enforcement powers of other police agencies”

Our office takes these responsibilities and “authorities” very seriously. We do, and will continue to do, complete and thorough medicolegal death investigations (maybe even more so than some coroners in other jurisdictions) in conjunction with and parallel to law enforcement agencies, fire agencies, and other agencies that might have interest in and jurisdiction regarding the death in question (e.g. NCIS, OSHA).

A work in progress.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope that works for you. Make sure your States Attorney will back you up. Having been in this business many years I have found that police will impose their "take charge of everything" will upon our office and with the backing and encouragement of the S.A.