In counties having a population less than 40,000, such as Douglas County, the Prosecuting Attorney also serves as the Coroner. The Coroner is not a medical examiner and does not perform autopsies.
The Coroner is responsible for investigating and certifying the cause and manner of death for certain types of death occurring within the county. The Coroner relies on the assistance of many others to accomplish this work and coordinates:
- Doctors and medical staff
- Family members and next of kin
- Forensic pathologists
- Hospice workers
- Law enforcement
- Regional medical examiners
The Coroner has jurisdiction to investigate a death in the following circumstances:
- When circumstances of the death indicate the death was caused entirely, or in part, by accidental, unnatural or unlawful means
- When the death is caused by any violence
- When the death is due to a violent contagious disease which may be a public health hazard
- When the death occurs in a jail or prison
- When the death occurs within one year following an accident
- When the death results from suspicious circumstances
- When the death results from unknown or obscure causes
- When a person dies suddenly when in apparent good health and without having received medical attendance within the thirty-six hours preceding death
After receiving a report of a death, the Coroner must determine whether or not to assume jurisdiction. In cooperation with medical providers and hospice programs, the Coroner does not assume jurisdiction in most cases where a death has been anticipated due to a terminal illness. The Coroner has adopted an In-Home Hospice Program Death Report Policy and Report Form (PDF) covering these deaths.
Removal of Deceased Persons
There is no morgue in Douglas County and the Coroner has no vehicles or equipment to remove the remains of deceased persons. Remains of deceased persons are removed by ambulance or funeral directors.