Legislation and statutes
The Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office along with County Counsel and the County Executive in Santa Clara County have drafted legislative bills to improve the quality of medicolegal death investigation. These bills have been signed by Governor Brown:
- AB 2083 – Provides the Child Death Review Team (CDRT) mental health information as it pertains to any infant or child death that falls under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office.
- AB 2119 (PDF) – Provides the Medical Examiner, Coroner, or forensic pathologist to access mental health information in order to render cause and manner of death.
Other legislative bills that impact the office
- Postmortem examination SB 1189 (PDF)
- AB 1737 – Child Death Investigations: Review Teams - Making Child Death review teams mandatory
- AB 1864 - Inquest: Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood
Defines sudden unexplained death in childhood. Requires the coroner to notify the parent or responsible adult of a child within that definition about the importance of taking tissue samples. Exempts the coroner from liability for damages in a civil action for any act or omission done in compliance these provisions.
- AB 2427 - Postmortem photographs;
Authorizes the making or dissemination of a copy reproduction, or facsimile described in existing law for use or potential use in a civil action or proceeding that relates to the death of the deceased person if the coroner receives written authorization from a legal heir or representative of that person before the action is filed or while the action is pending. A subpoena can be issued by a party who is a legal heir or representative of the deceased person in a pending civil action.
- End of Life Option Act, ABx2 15 - which the Governor signed into law allows patients with terminal conditions nearing the end of life to request medication from a physician to end their lives. There is a provision that states as follows:
443.18 Nothing in this part may be construed to authorize a physician or any other person to end an individual’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing, or active euthanasia. Actions taken in accordance with this part shall not, for any purposes, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, homicide, or elder abuse under the law.
- SB 1163 by Senator Galgiani - SB 1163 would require that all postmortem examinations and autopsies on an unidentified human body or on human remains, to be conducted by an attending physician and surgeon or the chief medical examiner who is a board-certified forensic pathologist by the American Board of Pathology.
- SB 1303 by Senator Pan - Would, for counties with a population of 500,000 or greater, require that the office of the coroner or the sheriff’s coroner’s office, as applicable, be replaced with an office of the medical examiner without a public vote or election. By requiring that counties comply with these requirements, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
- The bill can be accessed here.