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23-14 CORONER'S INQUESTS
CHAPTER 23-14

CORONER'S INQUESTS

23-14-1      Duty of coroner to inquire into cause of death.
23-14-2      Repealed.
23-14-3      Summons of jury for coroner's inquest.
23-14-4      Repealed.
23-14-5      Bystander as juror--Juror failing to appear.
23-14-6      Repealed.
23-14-7      Witnesses to be subpoenaed--Fees--Compelling attendance--Contempt.
23-14-8      Repealed.
23-14-9      Physician summoned to make examination--Compensation.
23-14-9.1      Autopsy ordered by state's attorney, sheriff, or coroner.
23-14-9.2      Autopsy fees--Coroner performing autopsy--County of residence to pay for autopsy.
23-14-10      Testimony in writing--Subscribing by witnesses.
23-14-11      Repealed.
23-14-12      Inquest not made public until arrest directed.
23-14-13      Arrest of person charged--Coroner's warrant.
23-14-14      Coroner's warrant equal to magistrate's warrant--Proceedings as on complaint.
23-14-15      Recitals in coroner's warrant--Foundation for commitment proceedings.
23-14-16      Papers returned to circuit court.
23-14-17      Forms to be promulgated--Publication--Effect of forms.
23-14-18      Deaths to be investigated by coroner.
23-14-18.1      Designation of special death investigators.
23-14-18.2      Jurisdiction and duties of special death investigators.
23-14-18.3      Investigation of uncertified deaths.
23-14-18.4      Compensation of special death investigators.
23-14-19      Joint custody of dead bodies and effects--Movement prohibited--Violation as misdemeanor.
23-14-20      Certificate prepared by coroner.


23-14-1 Duty of coroner to inquire into cause of death.
     23-14-1.   Duty of coroner to inquire into cause of death. The coroner shall hold an inquest upon the dead bodies of such persons only as are supposed to have died by unlawful means.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1001.


23-14-2
     23-14-2.   Repealed by SL 2003, ch 134, § 1


23-14-3 Summons of jury for coroner's inquest.
     23-14-3.   Summons of jury for coroner's inquest. When the coroner has notice of the dead body of a person supposed to have died by unlawful means, found or being in his county, he shall issue a warrant to the sheriff of his county, requiring him to summon forthwith three electors having the qualifications of jurors of the county to appear before the coroner at a time and place named in the warrant. When the services of such sheriff cannot be conveniently procured, then the coroner may summon such electors from the bystanders, and any elector impaneled as juror shall be allowed the same fees as in cases before the circuit court.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1001; SL 1978, ch 171, § 2.


23-14-4
     23-14-4.   Repealed by SL 1978, ch 171, § 3


23-14-5 Bystander as juror--Juror failing to appear.
     23-14-5.   Bystander as juror--Juror failing to appear. If any juror fails to appear, the coroner shall cause the proper number to be summoned and returned from the bystanders and immediately proceed to impanel them.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1004.


23-14-6
     23-14-6.   Repealed by SL 1978, ch 171, § 4


23-14-7 Witnesses to be subpoenaed--Fees--Compelling attendance--Contempt.
     23-14-7.   Witnesses to be subpoenaed--Fees--Compelling attendance--Contempt. The coroner may issue subpoenas for witnesses or records, returnable forthwith or at such time and place as the coroner shall direct, and witnesses shall be allowed the same fees as in cases before a magistrate. The coroner has the same authority as a magistrate to enforce the attendance of witnesses and to punish them and jurors for contempt in disobeying the process.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1008; SL 1974, ch 153, § 42; SL 1998, ch 145, § 1.


23-14-8
     23-14-8.   Repealed by SL 1978, ch 171, § 5


23-14-9 Physician summoned to make examination--Compensation.
     23-14-9.   Physician summoned to make examination--Compensation. In any such inquisition by a coroner, when he or the jury deem it requisite, he may summon one or more physicians or surgeons to make an examination, and shall allow in such case a reasonable compensation instead of witness fees.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1007.


23-14-9.1 Autopsy ordered by state's attorney, sheriff, or coroner.
     23-14-9.1.   Autopsy ordered by state's attorney, sheriff, or coroner. If a state's attorney or a sheriff or a coroner has reason to believe that a deceased person may have died in his or her jurisdiction by unlawful means, the state's attorney, sheriff, or coroner may order and direct a physician or surgeon to perform an autopsy. If in the public interest, the county coroner may order an autopsy on those deaths falling within the county coroner's jurisdiction mentioned in subdivisions 23-14-18(1) to (5), inclusive.

Source: SL 1951, ch 188, § 1; SDC Supp 1960, § 34.1015; SL 1961, ch 184, § 1; SL 1967, ch 103, § 2; SDCL § 23-13-8; SL 1978, ch 171, § 11; SL 1985, ch 191, § 4; SL 2009, ch 123, § 1.


23-14-9.2 Autopsy fees--Coroner performing autopsy--County of residence to pay for autopsy.
     23-14-9.2.   Autopsy fees--Coroner performing autopsy--County of residence to pay for autopsy. A physician or surgeon appointed under § 23-14-9.1 shall receive a reasonable fee for his services to be ascertained and approved by the board of county commissioners and paid out of the general fund of the county. If the coroner is a physician or surgeon, he may personally perform such autopsy; and he shall receive a reasonable fee for his services to be ascertained and approved by the board of county commissioners and paid out of the general fund of the county. If the death or autopsy occurs in a county other than the decedents' county of residence, the county of residence shall reimburse the county where the autopsy occurred for the cost of the autopsy, provided that the county of residence either requested the autopsy or is the site where the accident or injury leading to the death occurred.

Source: SL 1951, ch 188, § 1; SDC Supp 1960, § 34.1015; SL 1961, ch 184, § 1; SL 1967, ch 103, § 2; SDCL, § 23-13-9; SL 1978, ch 171, § 13; SL 1987, ch 172.


23-14-10 Testimony in writing--Subscribing by witnesses.
     23-14-10.   Testimony in writing--Subscribing by witnesses. The testimony shall be reduced to writing under the coroner's order, and be subscribed by the witnesses.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1009.


23-14-11
     23-14-11.   Repealed by SL 1978, ch 171, § 6


23-14-12 Inquest not made public until arrest directed.
     23-14-12.   Inquest not made public until arrest directed. If the inquisition find that a crime has been committed on the deceased, and name the person whom the jury believe committed it, the inquest shall not be made public until after the arrest directed in § 23-14-13.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1011.


23-14-13 Arrest of person charged--Coroner's warrant.
     23-14-13.   Arrest of person charged--Coroner's warrant. If the person charged is present the coroner may order his arrest by a law enforcement officer or any other person present, and shall then make a warrant requiring the law enforcement officer or other person to take him before a committing magistrate. If the person charged is not present, and the coroner believes he can be taken, the coroner may issue a warrant to the law enforcement officers of the county, requiring them to arrest the person and take him before a committing magistrate.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1012; SL 1978, ch 171, § 7.


23-14-14 Coroner's warrant equal to magistrate's warrant--Proceedings as on complaint.
     23-14-14.   Coroner's warrant equal to magistrate's warrant--Proceedings as on complaint. The warrant of a coroner in such case shall be of equal authority with that of a committing magistrate, and when the person charged is brought before the committing magistrate the same proceedings shall be had as in other cases started by a complaint, and he shall be dealt with in the usual form of criminal cases.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1013; SL 1978, ch 171, § 8.


23-14-15 Recitals in coroner's warrant--Foundation for commitment proceedings.
     23-14-15.   Recitals in coroner's warrant--Foundation for commitment proceedings. The warrant of the coroner shall recite substantially the transactions before him, and the verdict of the jury of inquest leading to the arrest, and such warrant shall be sufficient foundation for the proceedings of the committing magistrate instead of a complaint.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1013; SL 1978, ch 171, § 9.


23-14-16 Papers returned to circuit court.
     23-14-16.   Papers returned to circuit court. The coroner shall then return to the circuit court the inquisition, the written evidence, and a list of the witnesses who testified to material matters.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 34.1014.


23-14-17 Forms to be promulgated--Publication--Effect of forms.
     23-14-17.   Forms to be promulgated--Publication--Effect of forms. The attorney general shall promulgate forms, pursuant to chapter 1-26, implementing this chapter. The code commission shall publish such forms as an appendix to this chapter when it publishes the pocket parts or revised volumes of the South Dakota Codified Laws. Such forms shall be illustrative and not mandatory.

Source: SL 1978, ch 171, § 14.


23-14-18 Deaths to be investigated by coroner.
     23-14-18.   Deaths to be investigated by coroner. The county coroner shall investigate any human death if a determination of the cause and manner of death is in the public interest. Nothing in the provisions of this section, § 23-14-9.1, 23-14-19, 23-14-20, 34-26-2, 34-26-5, or 34-26-14 supersedes the obligation of any county sheriff to pursue and apprehend all felons pursuant to § 7-12-1. Deaths which are in the public interest, without limitation, are:
             (1)      All deaths by unnatural means or if there is a suspicion of unnatural means, including all deaths of accidental, homicidal, suicidal, and undetermined manner, regardless of suspected criminal involvement in the death;
             (2)      All deaths where the identity of the victim is unknown or the body is unclaimed;
             (3)      All deaths of inmates of any state, county, or municipally operated correctional facility, mental institution, or special school;
             (4)      All deaths believed to represent a public health hazard;
             (5)      At the discretion of the coroner, all deaths of children under two years of age resulting from an unknown cause or if the circumstances surrounding the death indicate that sudden infant death syndrome may be the cause of death; and
             (6)      All natural deaths if the decedent is not under the care of a physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner or if the decedent's physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner does not feel qualified to sign the death certificate. However, the lack of an attending physician may not be construed to require an investigation or autopsy solely because the decedent was under treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination.

Source: SL 1985, ch 191, § 1; SL 1990, ch 170, § 2; SL 1991, ch 198, § 1.


23-14-18.1 Designation of special death investigators.
     23-14-18.1.   Designation of special death investigators. The secretary of health may designate physicians, physician's assistants, or nurse practitioners with competency in the field of forensic pathology as special death investigators.

Source: SL 1989, ch 204, § 1; SL 1991, ch 198, § 2.


23-14-18.2 Jurisdiction and duties of special death investigators.
     23-14-18.2.   Jurisdiction and duties of special death investigators. At the request of a county coroner having jurisdiction over a dead body, or at the request of a state's attorney in deaths which may have occurred by unlawful means, the special death investigator may directly assume jurisdiction over any dead body when determination of the cause and manner of death may be in the public interest, with the same duties and responsibilities as a county coroner. With the concurrence of the county coroner, a special death investigator may issue subpoenas for witnesses or records pertaining to deaths investigated pursuant to § 23-14-18.

Source: SL 1989, ch 204, § 2; SL 1998, ch 145, § 2.


23-14-18.3 Investigation of uncertified deaths.
     23-14-18.3.   Investigation of uncertified deaths. The secretary of health may direct a special death investigator to investigate and certify deaths remaining uncertified for more than three months after the death occurred or was reported.

Source: SL 1989, ch 204, § 3.


23-14-18.4 Compensation of special death investigators.
     23-14-18.4.   Compensation of special death investigators. The special death investigator shall be compensated only by the agency requesting his services on a direct fee-for-service basis.

Source: SL 1989, ch 204, § 4.


23-14-19 Joint custody of dead bodies and effects--Movement prohibited--Violation as misdemeanor.
     23-14-19.   Joint custody of dead bodies and effects--Movement prohibited--Violation as misdemeanor. As to any death, the cause and manner of which is in the public interest, the county coroner and law enforcement agency exercising investigative control over such death shall jointly take charge of and exercise complete control over all dead bodies and all effects affixed thereto to determine the physiological cause of death. The investigating law enforcement officers, including the state's attorney or attorney general shall have control over all other elements of evidence demonstrating a potential criminal circumstance of death. No dead body subject to control by the coroner having investigative control may be moved from the scene of death without the coroner's permission unless the body directly obstructs a public transportation right-of-way or poses an immediate health hazard. No dead body subject to coroner control under this section may be embalmed without the express authority of the investigating coroner. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Source: SL 1985, ch 191, § 2.


23-14-20 Certificate prepared by coroner.
     23-14-20.   Certificate prepared by coroner. The county coroner shall prepare a medical certificate in conformance with chapter 34-25 for all deaths over which he assumes jurisdiction.

Source: SL 1985, ch 191, § 3.


Title 23

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