Douglas County District Attorney
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County Codes
Title 8 Health and Safety
8.40 Coroner
8.40.010 Definition of terms
8.40.020 Creation of office of coroner
8.40.030 Deputies, assistants, and other staff personnel
8.40.040 Pathologists, medical examiners
8.40.050 Bond of county coroner
8.40.060 Coroner's record
8.40.070 Jurisdictional authority
8.40.080 Issuance of death certificate
8.40.090 Powers and duties of coroner in examination of bodies
8.40.100 Additional powers and duties of coroner
8.40.110 Duties of the medical examiner
8.40.120 Notification of the deceased’s relatives--Release and disposition of remains
8.40.130 Notification of coroner when death has occurred
8.40.140 Removal or disturbance of remains and effects of deceased
8.40.180 Burial of deceased--When a charge against county
8.40.190 Designation of morgue or mortuaries
8.40.200 Inquests--Coroner's duties
8.40.210 Coroner's rules
8.40.220 Fees of coroner
8.40.230 Penalties

8.40.010 Definition of terms
    A.  "Autopsy report" includes any report of internal examination, dissection, necropsy or autopsy of a dead body by a physician and any report of laboratory examination, microscopic examination or other technical test performed thereon. 
    B.  "Board" means the county commissioners of the county of Douglas. 
    C.  "Coroner" means the sheriff appointed pursuant to section 8.40.020 his deputies and assistants. 
    D.  "County" means the County of Douglas, State of Nevada. 
    E.  "Inquest" means an inquiry before a coroner's jury in the manner specified in this ordinance. 
    F.  "Inspection" or "postmortem examination" includes any external examination or collection of any specimen by a pathologist, physician or the coroner and any microscopic, toxicological, chemical, bacterial or the examination or collection and study of tissues and fluids, which the coroner deems necessary to aid him in investigating the cause and manner of a person’s death. 
    G.  "Investigation" means an inquiry by the coroner including testimony obtained under oath from any witnesses. 
    H.  "Law enforcement official" includes the sheriff, his deputies and assistants and the district attorney and his deputies and special investigators. 
    I.  "Medical examiner" means a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of Nevada. 
    J.  "Record" means any report summarized by the coroner for public inspection. 
    K.  "Report" means a compilation of findings which are filed in the coroner's office in written form, detailed medical reports, the personal history of a deceased person, the result of any medical examination, witnesses' statements, correspondence and findings placed in the coroner's report all of which are not public records. 
    L.  "Toxicologist" means a person with the special knowledge and skills in the science of toxicology or the study of poisons, chemicals, drugs and other toxic substances and their effect on the human body. A toxicologist also has special knowledge of the medical, legal and industrial problems dealing with toxicology. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.020 Creation of office of coroner
    A.  There is created the office of coroner. 
    B.  Office space and necessary facilities for the coroner shall be provided by the sheriff. All costs, salaries and expenses connected with or entailed in the operation of the coroner's office shall be borne and provided for by the county. 
    C.  The sheriff shall be the coroner. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.030 Deputies, assistants, and other staff personnel
The coroner may appoint, employ and pay such deputies, assistants and other staff personnel as may be necessary for the proper administration of his office, performance and discharge of his duties. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.040 Pathologists, medical examiners
Subject to the prior approval of the county commission, the coroner may engage and pay for the services of pathologists to act as his medical examiners. Such pathologists shall be experienced in forensic pathology and if practicable, certified by the American Board of Pathology. When no pathologist is available to act as the coroner's medical examiner, he may designate and authorize physicians licensed to practice in the State of Nevada to act as his medical examiners. Those physicians may call upon any pathologist for consultation and assistance. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.050 Bond of county coroner
The county shall file with the county clerk, a bond issued by a bonding or surety company authorized to do business in the State of Nevada, in the amount of not less than 10,000 dollars, nor more than 50,000 dollars as fixed by the county commission. The bond shall be conditioned on the faithful performance of the duties of his office. The cost of the coroner's bond and those of his deputies shall be paid by the county. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.060 Coroner's record
    A.  The coroner shall keep an official record in which he shall enter: 
        1.  The name and any alias of the deceased, when known, including such description as may be sufficient for identification. The description may include fingerprint records. 
        2.  A narrative summary of the events leading to and surrounding the death of the deceased and transportation of the body, together with the names and addresses of any witnesses to such events. 
        3.  A list of property taken from the person or premises of the deceased by the coroner or by any peace officer. 
        4.  The date and cause of death, when known. 
        5.  Information as to the disposition of the deceased remains. 
        6.  A list of the person notified of the death, together with a notation of any unsuccessful attempts at notification. 
        7.  The date of the holding of any inquest. 
        8.  The disposition of the property of the deceased made by the coroner.
    B.  In any case of death apparently caused by criminal means, and upon request of law enforcement officials, the coroner's narrative summary shall be prepared in such a manner as to prevent the unauthorized discovery or inspection of the:     
        1.  Reports, memoranda or the internal documents received from and made by those officials in connection with their investigation of the death or with the prosecution of any person responsible therefore. 
        2.  Statements made by any witnesses or prospective witnesses to those officials until such time as the person criminally accused has been acquitted of the charge or charges, or until such time as he has exhausted his rights to appeal his conviction.
    C.  The coroner shall make his official record available for public release and inspection as soon as practicable after receipt thereof. That information may be fully copied or an abstract or memorandum may be prepared therefore. 
    D.  The autopsy report and medical records of the decedent will not be subject to public release and inspection. 
    E.  Any information not contained in the coroner's official record may be obtained by: 
        1.  Law enforcement officials carry out their official duties. 
        2.  A decedent's next of kin not suspected of causing the death by criminal means or by other persons with the written authorization of next of kin. 
        3.  Lawful process issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.070 Jurisdictional authority
    A.  The coroner shall determine the manner and cause of death of any person reported to him as having died as a result of violence of trauma, having died under such circumstances as to afford reasonable grounds to suspect or infer that the death has been caused or occasioned by the act or omission of another, having died under circumstances affording reasonable grounds to suspect that the death has been occasioned by unnatural, unlawful or suspicious means, having committed suicide or when the cause and circumstance of death are of concern to public health, safety or welfare. 
        1.  Death apparently due, entirely or in part to a factor other than natural disease, These include homicidal, or accidental deaths or deaths due in part to remote or recent trauma, chemicals, violence, or mechanical thermal, electrical or radiational injury. 
        2.  Unattended death, persons found dead, or sudden unexpected death not caused by readily recognized disease. 
        3.  Deaths wherein the deceased has not been attended by a physician in the thirty days before death, was not pronounced dead by a registered nurse pursuant to NRS 440.415, or was not diagnosed by a physician as having an anticipated life expectancy of not more than six months. 
        4. Death occurring during the course of hospitalization of less than twenty-four hour’s duration. 
        5.  Death occurring while a person is under general or local anesthesia or death occurring within an operating or recovery room. 
        6.  Death alleged to have been caused iatrogenically (medical accident), or by medical malpractice. 
        7.  Death apparently caused by acute or chronic alcoholism, narcotics, or by the effects of other drugs or agents, including any death in which the diagnosis is suspected to be homologous serum jaundice, agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia or any other possible complication of drug therapy or toxic exposure. 
        8.  Death occurring while a person is in a place of incarceration or under sentence, or within the custody of peace officers, including deaths of inmates of public institutions hospitalized therein for treatment other than for organic disease. 
        9.  Death due to abortion or childbirth. 
        10.  Stillbirths of fetuses of 20 or more weeks gestation if unattended by a physician. 
        11.  Death apparently due to neglect, exposure or starvation. 
        12.  Death in a nursing home or other institution without recent (within thirty days) attendance. 
        13.  Death apparently due to an infectious or contagious disease or other hazards to the public health if the diagnosis and extent of the disease are undetermined at the time of death. 
        14.  Death which is possibly attributable to environmental exposure or which may be related to the decedent's occupation. 
        15.   Death of any child under 18 years of age where medical history has not established some pre-existing condition consistent with sudden death. 
        16.  Deaths wherein the next of kin is unknown and the remains are unclaimed. 
        17.  Death in which the deceased had been under a physician’s care under the conditions set forth in NAC 440.170 (had seen the physician professionally within thirty days preceding death, was pronounced dead by a registered nurse pursuant to NRS 440.415, or was diagnosed by a physician as having an anticipated life expectancy of not more than six months), but the cause of death was unrelated to the purpose for which the deceased consulted the physician. 
    B.  Whenever the coroner conducts an investigation pursuant to this section and before he signs a death certificate, he shall determine the cause and manner of death and shall sign and certify the cause of death on the death certificate or shall certify that the cause of death cannot be determined with reasonable medical certainty. 
    C.  When reasonable grounds exist to believe that a death has been caused by the criminal act of another the coroner shall furnish all necessary assistance to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the location where the body of the deceased is found. In such cases, the coroner's duty shall be to determine the cause and manner of the death and the duty of the law enforcement agency shall be to determine the identity of the person or persons responsible for the death and submit information to the appropriate prosecuting authority. (Ord. 941, 2000; Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.080 Issuance of death certificate
The cause of death appearing on a death certificate signed by the coroner shall be in conformity with the facts ascertained from his inquiry, autopsy or other scientific findings. In cases of death without medical attendance, and without violence, casualty, criminal or undue means, the coroner may, without holding an inquest or conducting an autopsy, sign the death certificate based on statements of relatives, persons last in attendance or persons present at the time of death after due medical consultation and opinion has been given by a physician licensed to practice medicine and so recorded in the records of death, providing such information affords clear grounds to establish the correct medical cause of death within accepted medical practice and within the requirements for accuracy prescribed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the Nevada State Health Division. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.090 Powers and duties of coroner in examination of bodies
If the coroner's preliminary investigation fails to satisfy him or the medical examiner as to the cause and manner of particular death, where the cause and manner of a particular death, where the cause and manner of a death may represent a hazard to the public health or where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime has been committed, the coroner or medical examiner may: 
    A.  Take possession of and inspect or examine the body of the deceased person and may perform a postmortem examination or complete autopsy. He may also exhume the body with any inspection or examination. 
    B.  Collect and make, or cause to be made, analysis of the blood, body fluids or contents of the stomach, organs or tissues of the body and secure professional opinions as to the result of such analysis. Information gathered by such analysis shall be reduced to writing and filed by the coroner in his report of the death of the deceased person. 
    C.  Collect or retain such tissues of the body removed at the time of an autopsy or postmortem examination as may be necessary or advisable to conduct a proper investigation or for verification of the findings related to the deceased person's identity and the cause or manner of his death. 
    D.  Hold an inquest. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.100 Additional powers and duties of coroner
In addition to the powers and duties of the coroner enumerated above, the coroner may perform an autopsy on remains of other deceased persons within his jurisdiction if: 
    A.  The deceased has authorized such an autopsy in his will or by other written instrument. 
    B.  Written authorization is provided by a person or on behalf of an entity that the deceased designated in writing during his lifetime to take charge of his body for burial or other purposes. 
    C.  Written authorization is provided by the deceased's surviving spouse. 
    D.  Written authorization is provided by a surviving adult child or parent of the deceased. 
    E.  Written authorization is provided by a surviving brother or sister of the deceased. 
    F.  Written authorization is provided by any other relative of the deceased or other person who has acquired the right of control of the disposition of the remains. 
    G.  Written authorization is provided by the district attorney of the county. 
    H.  Written authorization is provided by any other duly authorized public officer. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.110 Duties of the medical examiner
The coroner's medical examiner, upon being notified by the coroner of the location of a deceased person and when the circumstances of the case require further medical inquiry, shall at the earliest possible time thereafter conduct a medical examination or a complete autopsy as may be required and shall immediately report his findings in writing, stating the cause of death, if know, or that additional microscopic, toxicological or other studies are necessary to establish the cause of death. The report shall reflect whether or not the body has been medically released for final disposition pending issuance of the detailed autopsy report. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.120 Notification of the deceased’s relatives--Release and disposition of remains
The coroner or his designee shall use due diligence to locate the relatives of the deceased person notify them of the death and of the location of the remains. The coroner, upon completion of his investigation and proper identification of the deceased, shall release the body of the deceased for disposition. The body of any unidentified or unclaimed person shall be disposed of by order of the coroner after a period of time not to exceed ten days from completion of his investigation, unless the continued holding of the body is necessary for investigative purposes. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.130 Notification of coroner when death has occurred
Any person with knowledge of the existence and location of the body of a deceased person in the county who apparently has died under any of the circumstances enumerated in section 8.40.070 of this chapter shall notify the coroner of the fact in the most expeditious manner possible. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.140 Removal or disturbance of remains and effects of deceased
    A.  Unless immediate removal of a dead body is required to protect public health or safety, no person except a peace officer may remove a dead body from the position in which it is discovered nor disturb, search or remove any object from the body without prior authorization of the coroner if the death has occurred under any of the circumstances enumerated in section 8.40.070 of this chapter. The peace officer shall take all reasonable precautions to avoid interfering with the investigation conducted by the coroner pursuant to that same section. 
    B.  When the coroner deems it necessary, he may lock and seal any door and window of the structure in which the body of the deceased person is found. The structure shall remain so secured until such time as a legal representative o the deceased assumes responsibility for the ultimate disposition of the body. No person shall remove any such seal or enter upon any property bearing such a seal without the approval of the coroner. In securing the structure, the coroner shall take all necessary precautions to avoid interfering with any investigation being conducted by law enforcement agencies. 
    C.  The coroner or the treasurer, as the case may be, shall: 
        1.  Deliver the property to the public administrator for disposition according to law. 
        2.  Give written notice to the public administrator of his intention to sell such property at public sale.
    If within ten days after the giving of such notice the public administrator claims the property for disposition, the coroner or county treasurer shall deliver it to him. If the public administrator does not claim the property, the county treasurer may, after giving notice by posting at the county courthouse for at least ten days, sell the property at public sale and deposit the proceeds in the county treasury. 
    D.  If the money deposited in the county treasury is demanded within six years, the county treasurer shall pay it to the person legally authorized to receive it. The money may also be paid at any time subsequent to the expiration of six years to the representatives of the deceased upon order of the board. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.180 Burial of deceased--When a charge against county
After a coroner's inquiry, inspection, investigation or inquest, as provided in this ordinance, and if no person assumes responsibility for the remains of a deceased person, the coroner shall cause the remains to be decently buried. The expenses of the burial shall be paid from the money deposited with the county treasurer, or the estate of the deceased as the case may be. If the deceased has no money or estate, or the money or estate of the deceased is insufficient to bear the entire cost of the burial, the county shall bear the entire cost of the burial, the county shall bear the costs of the burial in excess of any money or estate available. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.190 Designation of morgue or mortuaries
In the absence of a county morgue or in times of disaster, the coroner may designate one or more commercial mortuaries with sufficient accommodations and facilities to receive bodies. No person or firm operating a morgue or mortuary nor any of his or its employees may be held liable for the actions of the coroner in performing removal of any body to a morgue or mortuary, or for the performance of an autopsy upon such a body. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.200 Inquests--Coroner's duties
The matter of convening and conducting inquests shall be as provided by law and the coroner's duties therein. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.210 Coroner's rules
The coroner may adopt such rules as he deems necessary to facilitate the operation of his office and to carry out the purposes of this ordinance. Such rules shall have the same effect in law as the provisions of this ordinance when approved by the board. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.220 Fees of coroner
The coroner may establish and charge fees for reproduction of any document available to the public and for the performance of any act for which he is authorized but not required to perform pursuant to this chapter. Such fees, when collected, shall be paid by him into the county treasury. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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8.40.230 Penalties
    A.  If the coroner willfully refuses to abide by or violates any provision contained in this chapter, he is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. 
    B.  Any other person who willfully refuses to abide by or violates any provision contained in this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. (Ord. 724, 1995)
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