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(kôr`ənər), 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-trovetreasure-trove,
in English law, buried or concealed money or precious metals without any ascertainable owner. Such property belongs to the crown. The present practice in Great Britain is for the crown to pay the finder for the treasure-trove if it is of historic or artistic
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. In his present-day work of determining cause of death, the coroner proceeds by means of the inquestinquest,
in law, a body of men appointed by law to inquire into certain matters. The term also refers to the inquiry itself as well as to the findings of the inquiry. The most usual form of inquest today is that conducted by the coroner to discover the cause of a death that was
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 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 In several of the United States the coroner has been replaced by the medical examiner, who can only conduct post-mortem examinationspost-mortem examination
or autopsy,
systematic examination of a cadaver for study or for determining the cause of death. Post-mortems use many methodical procedures to determine the etiology and pathogenesis of diseases, for epidemologic purposes, for establishment of
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, 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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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