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The name of an ancient officer of the common law, whose office and functions are continued in modern English and American administration. The coroner is an officer belonging to each county, and is charged with duties both judicial and ministerial, but chiefly the former. It is his special province and duty to make inquiry into the causes and circumstances of any death happening within his territory which occurs through violence or suddenly and with marks of suspicion. This examination (called the “coroner’s inquest”) is held with a Jury of proper persons upon view of the dead body. See Bract, fol. 121; 1 Bl. Comm. 346-348; 3 Steph. Comm. 33. In England, another branch of his judicial office is to inquire concerning shipwrecks, and certify whether wreck or not, and who is in possession of the goods; and also to inquire concerning treasure trove, who were the finders, and where it is, and whether any one be suspected of having found and concealed a treasure. 1 Bl. Comm. 349. It belongs to the ministerial office of the coroner to serve writs and other process, and generally to discharge the duties of the sheriff, in case of the incapacity of that officer or a vacancy in his office. On the office and functions of coroners, see, further, Pueblo County v. Marshall, 11 Colo. 84, 16 Pac. 837; Cox v. Royal Tribe, 42 Or. 365, 71 Pac. 73, 60 L. R. A. 620, 95 Am. St Rep. 752; Powell v. Wilson, 16 Tex. 59; Lancaster County v. Holyoke, 37 Neb. 328, 55 N. W. 950, 21 L. R. A. 394. Coroner’s court. In England. A tribunal of record, where a coroner holds his inquiries. Cox v. Royal Tribe, 42 Or. 365. 71 Pac. 73, 60 L. R. A. 020. 95 Am. St. Rep. 752. Coroner’s inquest. An inquisition or examination into the causes and circumstances of any death happening by violence or under suspicious conditions within his territory, held by the coroner with the assistance of a jury. Boisliniere v. County Com’rs, 32 Mo. 378.

Law Dictionary – Alternative Legal Definition

An officer whose principal duty it is to hold an inquisition, with the assistance of a jury, over the body of any person who may have come to a violent death, or who has died in prison. It is his duty also, in case of the death of the sheriff, or when a vacancy happens in that office, to serve all the writs and process which the sheriff is usually bound to serve. The chief justice of the King’s Bench is the sovereign or chief coroner of all England, although it is not to be understood that he performs the active duties of that office in any one count.2. The duties of the coroner are of the greatest consequence to society, both for the purpose of bringing to punishment murderers and other offenders against the lives of the citizens, and of protecting innocent persons from criminal accusations. His office, it is to be regretted, is regarded with too much indifference. This officer should be properly acquainted with the medical and legal knowledge so absolutely indispensable in the faithful discharge of his office. It not infrequently happens that the public mind is deeply impressed with the guilt of the accused, and when probably he is guilty, and yet the imperfections of the early examinations leave no alternative to the jury but to acquit. It is proper in most cases to procure the examination to be made by a physician, and in some cases, it is his duty.

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