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July 22/29, 1998

Coroner and Medical Examiner Systems—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;280(4):324-325. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-4-jbk0722

In Reply.—We agree that the checks and balances for governmental control are not the same for medical examiners and coroners. However, we believe that most competent medical examiners are permitted by the government that hired them to retain their jobs, whereas most medical examiners who are fired by the government are probably fired for valid reasons. Indeed, the electoral process blurs how coroner competence relates to the number of terms in office, and impeachment undoubtedly is rare. Also, some coroners do not fit the mold described by Dr Neiburger—some coroners are appointed, some are not state constitutional officers, some cannot arrest the sheriff, some are the sheriff, some can hold office for only 2 terms, and some can be removed or have their authority nullified if they do not meet certain requirements.1,2

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