The mission of the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s (M.E.) Office is to assure that all deaths which affect the public interest are properly investigated and reported in the prescribed time frame and manner so as to protect the decedent, as mandated in the Mississippi Code §41-61-63. These type deaths include homicides, suicides, accidents, unexplained, SIDS, and unattended deaths. In addition, the M.E.’s Office assures that all coroners and their deputies meet the required educational standards and provide continuing education courses in the most current forensic investigative techniques and procedures. In an effort to assist coroners in the forensic determination of cause and manner of death, the office provides information on the latest forensic technology and expert services and resources. The majority of evidence from death investigation cases is processed by the M.E.’s Office and submitted to the State Crime Lab.
The M.E.’s Office is committed to providing continuing education in the most current forensic investigative techniques and procedures to county medical examiners and their deputies. A national technical working group of death investigation experts has created minimum standards for medico-legal death investigators in training courses including a national board examination for certification. The M. E.’s Office currently incorporates this training into its 40-hour basic death investigation classes. In November, 1999, 43 newly elected or appointed county medical examiner investigators (CMEI) and deputies (DMEI) were certified during this class to perform medico-legal death investigations. In addition, seven more CMEI/DMEI’s have been temporarily certified awaiting the next death investigation class.
Approximately 1300 autopsies were performed at the State Morgue facility during Fiscal Year 2007. In addition to providing 24-hour coverage, the morgue is equipped with the latest digital imaging technology for almost instant production of court presentation-quality photographs. The morgue facility also offers in-house x-ray and a specially designed room for autopsies on decomposed bodies. Two staff members maintain state certification as radiological technicians. Statewide over 1600 autopsies were performed out of approximately 15,000 coroners cases. The State has eight active designated pathologists.
The Medical Examiner’s Office continues to provide numerous services to the death investigators of the State including specially designed field specimen collection kits for biological samples in order to provide the State Crime Laboratory with the best available evidence for toxicological examinations. Staff are on call 24-hours per day to assist coroners with questions concerning autopsies and cause of death determinations. The M.E.’s Office maintains professional associations with numerous forensic experts across the country for consultation on cases involving anthropology, entomology, radiology, as well as equivocal deaths.