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This entry was published on 2021-08-13
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SECTION 674
Manner of investigation
County (CNT) CHAPTER 11, ARTICLE 17-A
§ 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 or her county to an incarcerated individual 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.