2017 Montana Legislature
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HOUSE BILL NO. 45
INTRODUCED BY K. DUDIK
BY REQUEST OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
AN ACT GENERALLY REVISING MEDICAL EXAMINER LAWS; REVISING LAWS RELATED TO APPOINTMENT AND SUPERVISION OF THE STATE AND ASSOCIATE MEDICAL EXAMINERS; REVISING QUALIFICATIONS OF ASSOCIATE MEDICAL EXAMINERS; PROVIDING FOR DEPUTY MEDICAL EXAMINERS; REVISING WHEN CERTAIN POSTMORTEM EXAMINATIONS MUST BE PERFORMED BY THE STATE OR DEPUTY MEDICAL EXAMINERS; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 44-3-201, 44-3-203, 46-4-103, 46-4-110, AND 46-4-122, MCA.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 44-3-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"44-3-201. State medical examiner. A state medical examiner must be appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the attorney general. The state medical examiner must be a physician licensed to practice medicine in Montana and be board-certified in forensic pathology. Once appointed, the state medical examiner is supervised by the director of the laboratory of criminalistics. Medical examiners are to be free from undue personal, professional, or political influences as they objectively pursue and report the facts and opinions of their death investigations."
Section 2. Section 44-3-203, MCA, is amended to read:
"44-3-203. Associate medical examiners -- qualifications. Associate medical examiners must be physicians physicians licensed to practice in Montana and be board-certified in forensic pathology, and may continue their private practice during their appointment. Associate medical examiners are appointed by, supervised by, and serve at the pleasure of the state medical examiner."
Section 3. Deputy state medical examiner. Deputy state medical examiners are hired and supervised by the state medical examiner. Deputy state medical examiners must be physicians licensed to practice medicine in Montana and must be board-certified or eligible to be board-certified in forensic pathology. Board certification is required within 5 years of eligibility.
Section 4. Section 46-4-103, MCA, is amended to read:
"46-4-103. Autopsy Postmortem examination -- when conducted, scope. (1) If in the opinion of the coroner an autopsy a postmortem examination is advisable, the coroner shall order one performed on any dead human body for which the death requires an inquiry and shall retain a medical examiner or associate medical examiner to perform it. Performance of autopsies postmortem examinations is within the discretion of the coroner except that the county attorney or attorney general may require one. Consent of the family or next of kin of the deceased is not required for an autopsy a postmortem examination that is ordered by the coroner, county attorney, or attorney general. In ordering an autopsy a postmortem examination, the coroner, county attorney, or attorney general shall order the body to be exhumed if it has been interred.
(2) The right to conduct an autopsy a postmortem examination includes the right to retain specimens the medical examiner performing the autopsy postmortem examination considers necessary.
(3) The state of Montana department of justice shall pay any expenses incurred whenever an autopsy a postmortem examination or investigation is initiated at the request of the state medical examiner or attorney general. The county shall pay any expenses incurred whenever an autopsy a postmortem examination, investigation, or inquiry is initiated at the request of the county attorney or county coroner.
(4) If a county does not provide a morgue or other facility for postmortem examination, the county coroner may order the use of a funeral home or an appropriate hospital facility for the examination.
(5) Autopsies Postmortem examinations performed under this section on a decedent whose death is under investigation and who has made an anatomical gift or on whose behalf an anatomical gift has been made must be performed in accordance with 72-17-217 and 72-17-218.
(6) (a) A postmortem examination must be performed by the state medical examiner or a deputy state medical examiner whenever the death occurred:
(i) while the decedent was incarcerated in a prison or confined to a correctional or detention facility owned or operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state; or
(ii) while the decedent was being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody by, or while in the custody of, any law enforcement agency or peace officer.
(b) If a death under subsection (6)(a) occurred while the decedent was under medical care, a state or deputy state medical examiner must be consulted and the need for further examination determined on a case-by-case basis.
(7) The department of justice shall pay any expenses related to postmortem examinations performed under subsection (6)."
Section 5. Section 46-4-110, MCA, is amended to read:
"46-4-110. Powers of coroner. In the performance of duties under this chapter, the coroner may:
(1) pronounce the fact of death of any human being under circumstances in which the coroner has a duty to inquire pursuant to 46-4-122;
(2) certify and amend death certificates as considered necessary in circumstances under which the coroner has a duty to inquire pursuant to 46-4-122;
(3) issue subpoenas pursuant to 46-4-112;
(4) order autopsies postmortem examinations as provided in 46-4-103;
(5) conduct examinations and tests as considered necessary to determine the cause, manner, and circumstances of death and identification of a dead human body as provided in 46-4-101 and 46-4-113;
(6) order a dead human body to be disinterred or removed from its place of disposition, with or without the consent of the next of kin, under circumstances in which the coroner has a duty to inquire pursuant to 46-4-122;
(7) conduct inquests pursuant to 46-4-201; and
(8) order cessation of any activity by any person or agency, other than the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction, that may obstruct or hinder the orderly conduct of an inquiry or the collection of information or evidence needed for an inquiry."
Section 6. Section 46-4-122, MCA, is amended to read:
"46-4-122. Human deaths requiring inquiry by coroner. The coroner shall inquire into and determine the cause and manner of death and all circumstances surrounding a human death:
(1) that was caused or is suspected to have been caused:
(a) in any degree by an injury, either recent or remote in origin; or
(b) by the deceased or any other person that was the result of an act or omission, including but not limited to:
(i) a criminal or suspected criminal act;
(ii) a medically suspicious death, unusual death, or death of unknown circumstances, including any fetal death; or
(iii) an accidental death; or
(c) by an agent, disease, or medical condition that poses a threat to public health;
(2) whenever the death occurred:
(a) while the deceased was incarcerated in a prison or jail or confined to a correctional or detention facility owned and operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state;
(b) while the deceased was in the custody of, being pursued, apprehended, or was being taken into the custody by or while in the custody of, a any law enforcement agency or a peace officer;
(c) during or as a result of the deceased's employment;
(d) less than 24 hours after the deceased was admitted to a medical facility or if the deceased was dead upon arrival at a medical facility; or
(e) in a manner that was unattended or unwitnessed and the deceased was not attended by a physician at any time in the 30-day period prior to death;
(3) if the dead human body is to be cremated or shipped into the state and lacks proper medical certification or burial or transmit permits; or
(4) that occurred under suspicious circumstances."
Section 7. Codification instruction. [Section 3] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 44, chapter 3, part 2, and the provisions of Title 44, chapter 3, part 2, apply to [section 3].
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Version of HB 45 (HB0045.ENR)
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