State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_152 > GS_152-7

§ 152‑7.  Duties ofcoroners with respect to inquests and preliminary hearings.

The duties of the severalcoroners with respect to inquests and preliminary hearings shall be as follows:

(1)        Whenever it appearsthat the deceased probably came to his death by the criminal act or default ofsome person, he shall go to the place where the body of such deceased person isand make a careful investigation and inquiry as to when and by what means suchdeceased person came to his death and the name of the deceased, if to be foundout, together with all the material circumstances attending his death, andshall make a complete record of such personal investigation: Provided, however,that the coroner shall not proceed to summon a jury as is hereinafter providedif he shall be satisfied from his personal investigation that the death of thesaid deceased was from natural causes, or that no person is blamable in anyrespect in connection with such death, and shall so find and make such findingin writing as a part of his report, giving the reason for such finding; unlessan affidavit be filed with the coroner indicating blame in connection with thedeath of the deceased. A written report of said investigation shall be filed bythe coroner with the medical examiner and the district attorney of the superiorcourt.

(2)        To empanel a jury ofsix persons, under oath, to make further inquiry as to the circumstances ofdeath and to call witnesses as necessary to determine the circumstances. Thecoroner shall order that the names of at least 15 persons be drawn from thejury box in accordance with the procedure in G.S. 9‑5. The coroner shallexamine the jurors appearing in obedience to the summons, and may excuse jurorsfor whom service would be an extreme hardship, who would be unable to remainimpartial in determining the issues, or are otherwise disqualified to serve asjurors. If the remaining jurors are less than six in number, the coroner shallcause sufficient additional names to be drawn from the jury box and have themsummoned, so as to obtain the immediate attendance of at least six qualifiedjurors. The first six qualified jurors constitute the inquest jury.

(3)        If it appears thatthe deceased was slain, or came to his death in such manner as to indicate anyperson or persons guilty of the crime in connection with the said death, thenthe said inquiry shall ascertain who was guilty, either as principal oraccessory, or otherwise, if known; and the cause and manner of his death.

(4)        Whenever in suchinvestigations, whether preliminary or before his jury, it shall appear to thecoroner or to the jury that any person or persons are culpable in the matter ofsuch death, he shall forthwith issue his warrant for such persons and cause thesame to be brought before him and the inquiry shall proceed as in the case ofpreliminary hearings in the district court, and in case it appears to the saidcoroner and the jury that such persons are probably guilty of any crime inconnection with the death of the deceased, then the said coroner shall commitsuch persons to jail, if it appears that such persons are probably guilty of acapital crime, and in case it appears that such persons are not probably guiltyof a capital crime, but are probably guilty of a lesser crime, then suchcoroner is to have the power and authority to fix bail for such person orpersons. All such persons as are found probably guilty in such hearing shall bedelivered to the keeper of the common jail for such county by the sheriff orsuch other officer as may perform his duties at such hearings and committed tojail unless such persons have been allowed and given the bail fixed by suchcoroner.

(5)        As many persons asare found to be material witnesses in the matters involved in such inquiry andhearings, and are not culpable themselves shall be bound in recognizance withsufficient surety to appear at the next superior court to give evidence, andsuch as may default in giving such recognizance may be by such coronercommitted to jail as is provided for State witnesses in other cases.

(6)        Immediately uponinformation of the death of a person within his county, under suchcircumstances as call for an investigation as provided in G.S. 130A‑383,the coroner shall notify the district attorney of the superior court and themedical examiner.

(7)        If an inquest orpreliminary hearing be ordered, to arrange for the examination of any and allwitnesses including those who may be offered by the county medical examiner.

(8)        To permit counselfor the family of the deceased, the solicitor of his district, or anyonedesignated by him, and counsel for any accused person to be present andparticipate in such hearing and examine and cross‑examine witnesses and,whenever a warrant shall have been issued for any accused person, such accusedperson shall be entitled to counsel and to a full and complete hearing.

(9)        To hold his inquirywhere the body of the deceased shall be or at any other place in the county,and the body of the deceased need not be present at such hearing. The hearingmay be adjourned to other times and places.

(10)      To reduce to writingall of the testimony of all witnesses, and to have each witness to sign histestimony in the presence of the coroner, who shall attest the same, and, upondirection of the district attorney of the district, all of the testimony heardby the coroner and his jury shall be taken stenographically, and expense ofsuch taking, when approved by the coroner and the district attorney of thedistrict, shall be paid by the county. When the testimony is taken by astenographer, the witness shall be caused to sign the same after it has beenwritten out, and the coroner shall attest such signature. The attestation ofall the signatures of witnesses who shall testify before the coroner shallinclude attaching his seal, and such statements, when so signed and attested,shall be received as competent evidence in all courts either for the purpose ofcontradiction or corroboration of witnesses who make the same, under the samerules as other evidence to contradict or corroborate may be now admitted. Thecoroner shall file a copy of all written testimony given at the hearing withthe county medical examiner and with the district attorney of the superiorcourt. (Code, s.657; 1899, c. 478; 1905, c. 628; Rev., s. 1051; 1909, c. 707, s. 1; C.S., s.1020; Ex. Sess. 1924, c. 65; 1955, c. 972, s. 2; 1957, c. 503, ss. 1, 2; 1967,c. 1154, s. 6; 1973, c. 47, s. 2; c. 108, s. 92; c. 558; 2007‑484, s.11(d).)