The Coroner's duties are both emotionally and physically demanding. They must find a balance between being professional, and caring, when they deal with the families and friends of the deceased. Their duties cover the entire county, including all four cities.
Qualifications of the Coroner
The coroner position is filled through an at large election and serves a four year term. He or she must meet the following requirements prior to taking the oath:
- Possess a high school diploma or its equivalent
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Be a qualified elector of the county in which elected
- Attend the Mississippi Crime Laboratory and State Medical Examiner Death Investigation Training School, successfully completing all exams on the subject matter presented
Once the Corner takes oath he/she is designated the chief medical examiner (CME) or chief medical examiner investigator (CMEI) for the county. A CME is a doctor of medicine (M.D.) Or osteopathic medicine (D.O.) licensed in the State of Mississippi, while a CMEI is a non-physician possessing, as a minimum, a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Requirement of the Coroner
As the CME or CMEI, the Corner must:
- Successfully complete additional training on subject material presented by the State Medical Examiner at least once every four years
- Receive at least 24 hours of continuing education annually. If the continuing education standards are not met, the CME/CMEI is disqualified and removed from office.
The CME/CMEI, with the Board of Supervisors, may appoint deputy medical examiners or deputy medical examiner investigators as deemed necessary. All deputies must possess the same authority and duties and are subject to the same qualifications, training, and certification requirements as any CME/CMEI.
Responsibilities of the Coroner
The CME/CMEI is responsible for assuring readily available death investigators for the county 24 hours-a-day for the investigation of all deaths "affecting the public interest." As designated in Section 41 61, 1959(2) of the Code. A death affecting the public interest includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
- Violent death, including homicidal, suicidal or accidental death.
- Death caused by thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation injury.
- Death caused by criminal abortion, including self-induced abortion, or abortion related to sexual abuse.
- Death related to disease thought to be virulent or contagious which may constitute a public hazard.
- Death that has occurred unexpectedly or from an unexplained cause.
- Death of a person confined in a prison, jail or correctional institution.
- Death of a person where a physician was not in attendance with 36 hours preceding death, or in pre-diagnosed terminal or bed-fast cases, within 30 days preceding death.
- Death of a person where the body is not claimed by a relative or a friend.
- Death of a person where the identity of the deceased is unknown.
- Death of a child under the age of two years where death results from an unknown cause or where the circumstances surrounding the death indicated that sudden infant death syndrome may be the cause of death.
- Where a body is brought into this state for disposal and there is reason to believe either that the death was not investigated properly or that there is not an adequate certificate of death.
- Where a person is presented to a hospital emergency room unconscious and/or unresponsive, with cardiopulmonary resuscitative measures being performed, and dies within 24 hours of admission without regaining consciousness or responsiveness, unless a physician was in attendance with 36 hours preceding presentation to the hospital, or in cases in which the deceased had a pre-diagnosed terminal or bed-fast condition, unless a physician was in attendance with 30 days preceding presentation to the hospital.
The CME/CMEI is also responsible for the maintenance of copies of all medical examiner death investigations for the county for the previous five years, and the coordination and cooperation of his office and duties with the State Medical Examiner.