FOOTNOTE ABOUT CALIFORNIA'S INQUEST PROCEDURE AS COMPARED TO ENGLAND'S.

In England, a Coroner's Inquest into the cause of death is available if the body comes to lie within the jurisdiction of England Click. 

An inquest is important because it authorizes the Coroner to subpoena witnesses under oath and requires that an impartial  a jury make the determination of cause of death.  If there is no inquest, the Coroner or his Chief Medical Examiner, alone, make the determination of cause of death, without the assistance of testimony of witnesses under oath and a jury.

     California Government Code Section 27491 states:

It shall be the duty of the coroner to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of all violent, sudden, or unusual deaths; ....deaths under such circumstances as to afford a reasonable ground to suspect that the death was caused by the criminal act of another; and any deaths reported by physicians or other persons having knowledge of death for inquiry by coroner (Emphasis supplied.)

Persons, without official authority can supply information to a California Coroner who has the duty to inquire regarding that information.  Do individual persons such as relatives or concerned persons have the right to demand an inquest in California?

No!  In California, contrary to English law, the Coroner has the right and duty to conduct an inquest only when he is requested to do so by specific persons, not including private individuals or relatives, as set forth in Government Code 27491.6.  It states:

The coroner may also, in his discretion, if the circumstances warrant, hold an inquest, and he shall hold an inquest if requested to do so by the Attorney General, the district attorney, sheriff, city prosecutor, city attorney, or a chief of police of a city in the county in which such coroner has jurisdiction.  Such inquest shall be held with or without a jury, at the coroner's discretion and shall be open to the public.

To summarize, in contrast to California practice, in England, if the Coroner is shown evidence from any source of an unnatural or violent death, he must hold an inquest.  In California only specified government officials can request an inquest.

The Sacramento Coroner's office told this reporter that his report as to the cause of Gary Webb's death will be completed about six to eight weeks after the date of his death.   Please note the statute as to the type and extent of a California Coroner's  investigation and the manner in which individuals and agencies can provide information or request an inquest is set forth in California Government Code sections 27490-27512.


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