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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Medical Examiners Replacing Coroners

In response to the corruption and bad science, Massachusetts established the first medical examiner system in 1877. The difference was that medical examiners were appointed pathologists with special training in forensics and death investigation; coroners were often elected lay people who relied on medical personnel to do autopsies. Most medical examiner systems lacked the political power of coroner's officers--they were not elected offices and they did not serve subpoenas, hold coroner's inquests in homicide cases, or issue arrest warrants. After Massachusetts switched to an ME system, New York City followed suit in 1918, and after 1950 a flurry of medical examiner systems displaced or began overseeing coroner's offices.

John Temple, Death House, 2005 

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