WHAT ARE THE LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CORONER
Under Title 19, Chapter 43, Section 194301,of the Idaho
Code, The Coroner, as soon as he is informed that a person
in his county has died: As a result of violence, whether
apparently homicidal, suicidal or accidental, or A) Under
suspicious or unknown circumstances, or B) When not attended
by a physician during his last illness and the cause of
death cannot be certified by a physician, shall go to the
place of death and take charge of the body. An investigation
into the events leading up to the person's death shall
commence in cooperation with the appropriate law enforcement
agency. The Coroner may authorize an autopsy to be performed
by a licensed physician in the State of Idaho to aid in
accurately and scientifically determining the cause and
manner of death. The Coroner shall also prepare a written
report of the factual information gathered during the course
of such an investigation.
The Coroner may use many different methods when determining
the cause and manner of death. This includes medical records
from physicians, hospitals, and other health care
facilities. Federal Code concerning protected health
information specifically indicates that protected health
care information can be disseminated to Coroners for the
purpose of aiding an investigation into the cause and manner
of death and to assist in the identification of a deceased.
Although these records are placed in the case file, they are
not subject to public view.
The Bannock County Coroner's Office has its own forensic
laboratory and employs a forensic pathologist to perform
autopsies. Per Idaho Code, Title 19, Chapter 43, Section
194301B, the Coroner may authorize an autopsy without
consent of the next of kin. The forensic autopsy includes a
detailed external examination, surgical examination, Xrays,
and collection of tissue and bodily fluids. Tissues are
prepared and examined microscopically by our forensic
pathologist. Bodily fluids are submitted to one or more
laboratories locally and throughout the United States for
analysis for the detection and quanitation of alcohol,
prescription or illicit drugs, or poisons. Cultures may also
be prepared for determining viral or bacterial diseases.
The results are reviewed by the forensic pathologist to aid
in determining the cause of death.
Death certificates are prepared by the funeral home. Once
the investigation is complete, the Coroner will record and
certify the death certificate to reflect the cause and
manner of death. This information will then be transmitted
to the State of Idaho, Department of Vital Statistics. The
Coroner does not issue death certificates to the general
public. Death certificates are only available from the State
of Idaho, Department of Vital Statistics.
Under Idaho Code, the Coroner, if he has reasonable grounds
and at his discretion, may conduct an inquest into the
manner of death of a person. The Coroner will summon six (6)
persons qualified by law to serve as jurors to appear before
him to hold said inquest. Jurors shall hear sworn testimony
of factual information by witnesses called by the Coroner,
review photographs, reports and documents to determine the
manner of death. The decision of the Coroner's Inquest is
final and not subject to appeal.
The Bannock County Coroner's Office may collect personal
property that is determined to be of evidentiary value or
for safe keeping. Real property, such as residential
dwellings, buildings, or automobiles are sealed or secured
until the legal next of kin is identified. In most cases,
property determined not be of value to the investigation,
will be turned over to the legal next of kin. Prescription
medications or contraband will be disposed, destroyed or
turned over to law enforcement officials. In the event
the legal next of kin cannot be located, the Coroner will
work with the Bannock County Public Administrator for
disposition of the property.
COPIES OF REPORTS
Reports generated by the Bannock County Coroner's Office are
subject to public view only after the conclusion of the
investigation. These reports are available upon written
request, and appropriate fees are forwarded. The reports do
not included protected health information and reports or
documents obtained from other agencies.
IDENTIFICATION & VIEWING
Contrary to popular belief, visual identification by family
or friends is not usually necessary. Many methods are used
to identify remains by the Coroner's Office. In most cases,
photographic identification is all that is required.
Occasionally, other methods, such as fingerprints, tattoos,
jewelry, Xrays, utilized for positive identification. We
understand that family may want to view their loved one as
soon as possible. It is recommended that this be done at the
funeral home facility. We will work with funeral homes to
insure this can be accomplished as quickly as possible.
ORGAN & TISSUE DONATION
The Bannock County Coroner's Office supports the efforts by
the various organ and tissue donation organizations. We will
make every effort to accommodate the wishes of families to
donate. The Coroner will evaluate the circumstances
surrounding the death and determine if donation can proceed.
The Coroner may consult with the Prosecuting Attorney of
Bannock County, if needed.