Dealing with the Dead: The Coroner’s Technician

By Douglas P. Lyle

The coroners technician is an extension of the coroner/ME and is indeed the ME’s representative at the crime scene and works with the ME at the morgue. These technicians are often the ones who actually deal with the body at any crime scene where a death has occurred.

As an extension of the ME, the technician has legal authority over the body. The crime scene may be the domain of the police and the criminalists, but the body belongs to the medical examiner.

The coroner’s technician may do the following:

  • Make a cursory examination of the body

  • Obtain a core (liver) body temperature, which is critical in determining the time of death

  • Direct the taking of photographs of the body

  • Collect any trace or insect evidence from the body

  • Wrap and transport the body to the ME’s office

The technician may also assist the ME in all the examiner’s duties at the morgue and may

  • Perform or help with the performance of autopsies

  • Prepare the autopsy report at the direction of the ME

  • Communicate with the public, the media, and law enforcement on issues relating to the medical examiner’s office

  • Explain the autopsy procedure and its results to family members of the deceased

  • Testify in court as the ME’s representative