CHAPTER 502

CREATING BOARD OF POST MORTEM EXAMINERS

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE BY CREATING THE BOARD OF POST MORTEM EXAMINERS AND THE POST OF STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER AND DEFINING THE POWERS AND DUTIES THEREOF.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Title 29, Delaware Code is amended by inserting a new chapter 47, to read as follows :

CHAPTER 47

BOARD OF POST-MORTEM EXAMINERS

§ 4701. Creation

There is hereby created a Board of Post-Mortem Examiners for the State of Delaware.

§ 4702. Composition and President of Board

The Board shall consist of the Attorney General of the State of Delaware, the Chief Justice of the State of Delaware, the President of the State Board of Health, the Superintendent of the State Police, the State Auditor, and two physicians named by the Council of the Medical Society of Delaware, one of whom shall be a recognized Pathologist. The members of the Board shall serve without compensation, except for necessary travel expenses, and the Attorney General shall act as President of the Board.

§ 4703. Appointment and term of Medical Examiner

The Board shall appoint a Medical Examiner for a term not exceeding ten years but subject always to removal for cause.

§ 4704. Qualifications of Medical Examiner

The Medical Examiner shall be a doctor of medicine and a recognized pathologist and preference shall be given to applicants with training and experience in the field of medico-legal investigation. In the event no qualified person applies for the position of Medical Examiner, a doctor of medicine with at least two years post-graduate training in pathology shall be appointed.

§ 4705. Compensation of Medical Examiner

The Medical Examiner shall be compensated at a rate not exceeding $15,000 annually. He shall also be reimbursed for any necessary travel expenses.

§ 4706. Rules and regulations

The Board is authorized to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry into effect the provisions of this chapter.

§ 4707. Appointment of professional and other personnel

The Board may appoint such professional or technical personnel, clerks and other employees as may be necessary for the proper administration of the Board's functions at such compensation as shall be determined by the Board.

The Board may employ physicians on a contract basis for part time services, as may be required.

§ 4708. Duties of medical examiner

(a) It shall be the duty of the Medical Examiner to attend to all the medical functions now devolving upon the coroners, deputy coroners and coroner's physicians in the counties of the State of Delaware and in the City of Wilmington, and to perform all the duties imposed upon him by the provisions of this chapter.

(b) The Medical Examiner shall at all times be subject to the orders and directions of the Board of Post-Mortem Examiners.

§ 4709. Office and equipment

The office of the Medical Examiner shall be maintained in the City of Dover or in the City of Wilmington, preferably in close connection with the Delaware State Board of Health or the Delaware State Police, or the Wilmington Board of Health or the Wilmington Police, or the office of the Attorney General.

The Board shall provide proper and necessary equipment for the use of the Medical Examiner, or arrange for the use of the laboratories, personnel, and equipment of the Delaware State Board of Health and the Delaware Police, or the Wilmington Board of Health and Wilmington Police.

§ 4710. Investigation of deaths

(a) When any person shall die in the State of Delaware, as a result of violence, or by suicide, or by casualty if such occurred not longer than one year and one day prior to death, or while under anesthesia, or by abortion or suspected abortion, or by poison or suspicion of poison, or suddenly when in apparent health or when unattended by physician, or in an institution less than twenty-four hours after admission where a diagnosis cannot be made including death in coma, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, or if there is any unclaimed body, or if anybody is to be cremated, it shall be the duty of the police or sheriff or the person issuing a permit for cremation under the provisions of section 3162 of Title 16, immediately to notify the Medical Examiner, and the Attorney General of the State of Delaware, of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and circumstances of such death.

(b) Immediately upon receipt of such notification, the Medical Examiner shall go to the dead body and take charge of the same.

(c) The Medical Examiner shall fully investigate the essential facts concerning the medical causes of death and may take the names and addresses of as many witnesses thereto as may be practicable to obtain, and, before leaving the premises shall reduce such facts, as he may deem necessary, to writing and file the same in his office.

(d) The Police Officer or Sheriff present at such investigation, or if no officer be present, then the Medical Examiner shall, in the absence of the next of kin of the deceased person, take possession of all property of value found on such person, make an exact inventory on his report and deliver such property to the State Police, Wilmington Police or the Sheriff of the county as the case may be, which shall surrender them to the person entitled to its custody or possession.

(e) The Medical Examiner shall take possession of any object or articles which, in his opinion, may be useful in establishing the identity of the deceased person or the cause of death, and deliver them to the Attorney General, anything to the contrary in subsection (d) of this section notwithstanding.

§ 4711. Post-mortem examination; autopsy reports

(a) If the cause of death shall be established beyond a reasonable doubt, the Medical Examiner shall make a written report and file it in his office within thirty days after his investigation of such deaths.

(b) If, however, in the opinion of the Medical Examiner or the Attorney General, an autopsy is necessary, the same shall be performed by the Medical Examiner or by such competent pathologist as may be designated by the Medical Examiner.

(c) A detailed report of the findings written during the progress of such autopsy, and the conclusions drawn therefrom, shall be filed in the office of the Medical Examiner and a copy shall be sent to the Attorney General.

§ 4712. Power to administer oaths

The Medical Examiner shall in the course of investigation of a death have the power to administer oaths and affirmations, and take affidavits and make examinations as to any matter within the jurisdiction of their respective offices, but the Medical Examiner shall not have the power or be required to summon a jury of inquisition.

§ 4713. Records and reports; evidence

(a) It shall be the duty of the Medical Examiner to keep full and complete records, properly indexed, giving the name, if known, of every person at the place where a body was found, the date and the cause of death, and all other available information relating thereto. The original report of the Medical Examiner and the detailed findings of the autopsy and subsequent laboratory examinations, if any, shall be attached to the record of each case.

(b) The Medical Examiner shall deliver to the Attorney General copies of all records relating to every death in which, in the judgment of the investigating Medical Examiner, further investigation may be deemed advisable.

(c) The Attorney General of the State of Delaware may obtain from the Office of the Medical Examiner copies of all records or other information which he may deem necessary.

(d) The records of the office of the Medical Examiner made by the Medical Examiner or by anyone under his direction or supervision, or a true copy thereof certified by the Medical Examiner, shall be received as competent evidence in any Court in the State of Delaware of the matters and facts therein contained.

Section 2. § 9508, Title 9, Delaware Code is repealed.

Section 3. Any Act or Acts inconsistent with any provision of this Act are repealed to the extent of any such inconsistency.

Approved August 2, 1955.