New York Consolidated Laws, County Law - CNT § 674. Manner of investigation




1. When a coroner or medical examiner is informed of the occurrence of a death within his jurisdiction as defined in section six hundred seventy-three of this article, he shall go at once to the place where the body is and take charge of it.  If the coroner is not a physician duly licensed to practice medicine in this state, he shall at once notify and designate a coroner's physician to act with him.  If no coroner's physician is available, he shall employ and designate a physician qualified to make postmortem examinations and dissections and to testify thereon, and the physician so employed shall be deemed a coroner's physician for the purpose of the investigation, and any statute referring to a coroner's physician shall be applicable to him so far as concerns that investigation.  Such coroner's physician so notified or employed, and designated, shall also go to the place where the body is, and the coroner and such coroner's physician shall jointly take charge of the body.  Notwithstanding any general, special or local law, the coroner, or coroner and coroner's physician, or the medical examiner, shall have authority to the extent required for the investigation to remove and transport the body upon taking charge of it.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, in a county with a population of less than two hundred thousand, a coroner who is not a physician duly licensed to practice medicine in this state may, with respect to deaths specified in paragraph (e) of subdivision one of section six hundred seventy-three of this article, take charge of, remove and transport the body, without first notifying and designating a coroner's physician when, in the opinion of the coroner, it would be impossible or impractical to at once notify and designate a coroner's physician to go to the place where the body is;  provided, however, that the coroner shall notify and designate a coroner's physician to act with him in such case as soon as practicable, and in any event within twenty-four hours, after taking charge of the body.

2. The coroner, or the coroner and coroner's physician, or the medical examiner, shall fully investigate the essential facts concerning the death, taking the names and addresses of as many witnesses thereto as it may be practicable to obtain, and before leaving the premises shall reduce all such facts to writing.  He or they shall take possession of any portable object which, in his or their opinion, may be useful in establishing the cause or means of death.

3. (a) In the course of the investigation, the coroner or coroner and coroner's physician, or the medical examiner, shall make or cause to be made such examinations, including an autopsy, as in his or their opinion are necessary to establish the cause of death, or to determine the means or manner of death, or to discover facts, the ascertainment of which is requested in writing by a district attorney, or a sheriff, or the chief of a police department of a city or county, or the superintendent of state police;  provided, that if the coroner is not a physician duly licensed to practice medicine in this state, the determination whether an autopsy or any subsequent examination or analysis of tissue or organs is necessary shall be made by the coroner's physician, and any such autopsy, examination or analysis shall be made by him or at his direction, and provided further that, if so provided by local law of the county, written concurrence of the district attorney or the county health officer or the sheriff, or written concurrence of all or any of them, as the local law shall specify, shall be required for any determination by a coroner's physician under this subdivision whether acting as such physician or as deputy coroner pursuant to subdivision four-b of section four hundred of this chapter, or for any determination by the medical examiner, that an autopsy or any subsequent examination or analysis of tissue or organs is necessary.  The authority to make any examination as provided in this section includes authority to remove, retain and transport or send, for the purpose of the examination, any tissue or organs and any portable object.

(b) The coroner or coroner and coroner's physician, or the medical examiner, also shall make or cause to be made, quantitative tests for alcohol, and for any trace of a controlled substance, as defined in section three thousand three hundred six of the public health law , that the coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner has reasonable cause to believe is present, on the body of every operator of a motor vehicle or a pedestrian sixteen years of age or older who was involved in and died as a result of a motor vehicle accident;  provided, however, such tests shall not be made pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph if such coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner has reason to believe that the decedent is of a religious faith which is opposed to such test on religious or moral grounds.

4. A coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall have power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath in the same manner as a magistrate in holding a court of special sessions.

5. Notwithstanding section six hundred seventy of this article or any other provision of law, the coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall promptly perform or cause to be performed an autopsy and to prepare an autopsy report which shall include a toxicological report and any report of any examination or inquiry with respect to any death occurring within his county to an inmate of a correctional facility as defined by subdivision three of section forty of the correction law , whether or not the death occurred inside such facility.





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