Medical Examiner

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Medical Examiner

A public official charged with investigating all sudden, suspicious, unexplained, or unnatural deaths within the area of his or her appointed jurisdiction. A medical examiner differs from a Coroner in that a medical examiner is a physician. Medical examiners have replaced coroners in most states and jurisdictions.

Medical examiners determine such things as the positive identification of a corpse, the time of death, whether death occurred at the location where the corpse was found, and the manner and cause of death. They conduct autopsies and other medical tests to determine any or all of the details of death. They often work in conjunction with a legal team, such as a state prosecutor's office, and will testify at trial as to their findings and determinations. In that regard, a medical examiner's testimony is that of an expert witness, subject to cross-examination by counsel or refutation by the testimony of other expert witnesses.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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