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Holding Inquests, Record Of Inquest As EvidenceArrest, Liabilities of a Coroner

An official of a MUNICIPAL CORPORATION whose designated functions include the investigation of the cause of any violent or suspicious death that takes place within the geographical boundaries of his or her municipality.

The office of the coroner was established at COMMON LAW and was one of great dignity since coroners dealt primarily with pleas concerning the crown. In the early 2000s, statutes establish the terms and procedure of the coroner's office, which has been replaced in some states with the office of medical examiner.

The main function of a coroner is to conduct inquests, but other powers and duties may include the duty of acting as sheriff, in the event of the sheriff's incapacity, as conservator of the peace, or as magistrate. The duties are considered to be either judicial, ministerial, or both.


It is the power and the duty of the coroner to have anyone implicated by an inquest in murder or manslaughter to be arrested and held for trial. If a statute gives a coroner magisterial jurisdiction in HOMICIDE cases, he or she may issue warrants for the arrest of the person probably chargeable with the crime and hold the person to answer or discharge the charges.

Liabilities of a Coroner

A coroner who is acting pursuant to his or her statutory authority is immune for error, mistake, or misconduct in the exercise of judicial functions. A coroner, acting in a ministerial capacity, is answerable for any abuse of those powers. Some statutes make it a criminal offense for a coroner to deliberately hold an inquest when to do so clearly exceeds the scope of his or her powers.


Cornwell, Patricia. 1999. Body of Evidence. New York: Pocket Books.

Noguchi, Thomas T. 1985. Coroner at Large. New York: Simon & Schuster.

——. 1984. Coroner. New York: Pocket Books.


Autopsy; Jury; Presumption.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Constituency to Cosigner