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coroner (kôrˈənər), judicial officer responsible for investigating deaths occurring through violence or under suspicious circumstances. The office has been traced to the late 12th cent. Originally the coroner's duties were primarily to maintain records of criminal justice and to take custody of all royal property. In England this second function persists in his jurisdiction over treasure-trove. In his present-day work of determining cause of death, the coroner proceeds by means of the inquest whenever there is doubt. In several of the United States the coroner has been replaced by the medical examiner, who can only conduct post-mortem examinations, and who works in cooperation with the public prosecutor.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in Great Britain, the USA, and some other coun-tries with the Anglo-Saxon legal system, an official whose duties include establishing the causes of any death that occurs either under unexplained circumstances or suddenly.

When violence is suspected to be the cause of death, the coroner usually holds an inquest. He hands over all his materials for examination by a coroner’s court consisting of the coroner him-self and a small jury (six jurors), which hears witnesses and experts. Then the jury renders a verdict on the causes of death. The decision of a jury is obligatory only to establish the fact of violent death, on the basis of which the case is pursued further. In some cases (for example, accidental death) the coroner may render the decision alone.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a public official responsible for the investigation of violent, sudden, or suspicious deaths and inquiries into treasure trove. The investigation (coroner's inquest) is held in the presence of a jury (coroner's jury)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
The examination was over, though I doubted if the Coroner was entirely satisfied with it.
"I fear it does not help us much," said the Coroner, with a sigh.
"It says nothing of the kind in the letter," the Coroner pointed out.
The Coroner interrupted her in an agony of apprehension:
The beadle is very careful that two gentlemen not very neat about the cuffs and buttons (for whose accommodation he has provided a special little table near the coroner in the Harmonic Meeting Room) should see all that is to be seen.
Little Swills is waiting for the coroner and jury on their return.
"This won't do, gentlemen!" says the coroner with a melancholy shake of the head.
"Yes, yes, give me a coroner who is a good coursing man," said Mr.
Chichely might be the very coroner without bias as to the coats of the stomach, but he had not meant to be personal.
"The Coroner: I understand that the cry of 'Cooee' was a common signal between you and your father?
"The Coroner: How was it, then, that he uttered it before he saw you, and before he even knew that you had returned from Bristol?
"I see," said I as I glanced down the column, "that the coroner in his concluding remarks was rather severe upon young McCarthy.