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March 21, 1936

Foreign Letters

JAMA. 1936;106(12):1018-1023. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770120050021

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LONDON  (From Our Regular Correspondent)Feb. 15, 1936.

Reform of the Coroner's Inquest  The ancient office of coroner can be traced back to the twelfth century. His function is to inquire into deaths not due to natural causes, and on the whole he has done this efficiently through the centuries. But this archaic office has fallen behind the standard required in modern times and has been the subject of much criticism. The inquiry is not carried on by the strict rules of evidence which prevail in other courts, so that prejudice may be unfairly aroused and a case built up against an accused person. Moreover, before a case can come before a judge the accused has to appear in police court and the proceedings that have taken place before the coroner are unnecessarily duplicated. Radical reform has been delayed so long because the English are a conservative people, attached to

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