Investigation Required by Law

The Medical Examiner may provide autopsy investigation, legal consultation, death investigation training, and forensic pathology at the request of authorized persons who represent counties with whom Anoka County has a Medical Examiner’s Service Agreement.

Legal Requirements
Minnesota Statute 390.11 makes it mandatory that the Medical Examiner or County Coroner investigate and determine the cause and manner of death in: homicides, suicides, accidents, death under suspicious or unusual circumstances, and persons who are to be cremated, dissected or buried at sea.

Minnesota Statute 390.11 also requires an investigation into the deaths of inmates of public institutions who are not hospitalized for organic disease and whose death is not of any type referred to above.

Authorized Persons
Authorized persons, such as the sheriff, coroner, city or county government officials, and medical examiners may request services from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Anoka County authorized officials may request an immediate death investigation or report a death by contacting the Anoka County Sheriff’s Dispatch at 763-427-1212.

Autopsy Investigation
Autopsy, or postmortem examination, is a medical examination of a dead body, including the internal organs, to determine the cause of death. Violent deaths or deaths occurring under suspicious circumstances, according to law, must be investigated. In such cases, an autopsy may be performed to determine the cause and manner of death, as well as to collect evidence for legal proceedings.

Consultation for Legal Purposes
This service is designed to assist the legal profession by providing clear and impartial interpretation of patterns of injury and disease. Staff pathologists have vast courtroom experience and are available for testimony on all cases. In addition, our pathologists can review cases performed by other offices and offer expert testimony. When appropriate, we can perform “second look” autopsies, as well as post-exhumation autopsies. The role of the pathologist in the courtroom is to represent those who no longer have the ability to speak for themselves.

Important legal questions are resolved by the forensic pathologist’s decision as to the cause or manner by which a person died. Both the district attorney’s and the defense attorney’s case may hinge on the testimony of the forensic pathologist and the findings of the scene investigator and autopsy.

Forensic Pathology
Forensic pathology is the study of diseases and injuries of the community. The forensic pathologist must be knowledgeable about all aspects of medical diagnosis and treatment. He or she also needs to understand non-medical fields such as law; criminology; engineering; highway design; police, social, and political science.

It is the duty of the forensic pathologist to safeguard the health and safety of the community. Infectious diseases and epidemics can be determined as a result of forensic postmortems. By investigating deaths, injury and disease in the community as a whole may be prevented.