Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 1. Investigation of Death -- Autopsy

Postmortem Examination -- When Conducted, Scope

46-4-103. Postmortem examination -- when conducted, scope. (1) If in the opinion of the coroner 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 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 a postmortem examination that is ordered by the coroner, county attorney, or attorney general. In ordering 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 a postmortem examination includes the right to retain specimens the medical examiner performing the postmortem examination considers necessary.

(3) The department of justice shall pay any expenses incurred whenever 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 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) 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).

History: En. 95-802 by Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 1967; amd. Sec. 104, Ch. 349, L. 1974; amd. Sec. 25, Ch. 530, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 95-802; amd. Sec. 14, Ch. 660, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 345, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 194, L. 2017.