House Bill No. 137
Introduced By smith, beck
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act changing from mandatory to discretionary an inquest for a convicted prisoner whose death is caused by a terminal illness or the death sentence; and amending section
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 46-4-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"46-4-201. Inquest -- definition
, -- when held , -- how conducted. (1) An inquest is a formal inquiry into the causes of
and circumstances surrounding the death of any a person and is conducted by the coroner before a coroner's jury.
(2) The coroner
shall may hold an inquest only if requested to do so by the county attorney of the county in which death
occurred or by the county attorney of the county in which the acts or events causing death occurred. However, the county
attorney shall order the coroner to hold an inquest if the death of any a person occurs:
(a) in a prison, jail, or other
penal correctional institution and is not caused by the terminal illness of, or the execution of a
death penalty upon, the person while the person is incarcerated in the prison, jail, or other correctional institution because
of conviction of a criminal offense ,; or. THIS SUBSECTION (2)(A) APPLIES TO A DEATH CAUSED BY TERMINAL
ILLNESS ONLY IF THE PERSON WAS UNDER MEDICAL CARE AT THE TIME OF DEATH.
(b) while a person is being taken into custody or is in the custody of a peace officer
, or if the death is caused by a peace
officer, except where when criminal charges have been or will be filed , the county attorney shall order the coroner to hold
(3) If an inquest is held, the proceedings are public. The coroner shall conduct the inquest with the aid and assistance of the
county attorney. The coroner shall, and the county attorney may, examine each witness, after which the witness may be
examined by the jurors. The inquest
is to must be held in accordance with this part.
(4) (a) A coroner who also serves as a peace officer may not conduct an inquest into the death of a person who:
(i) died in a jail or penal institution;
(ii) died while in the custody of a peace officer; or
(iii) was killed by a peace officer.
(b) If a coroner is disqualified under subsection (4)(a), the county attorney shall request a qualified coroner of a neighboring county to conduct the inquest. The expenses of a coroner fulfilling the request, including salary, must be paid by the requesting county."