[Rev. 11/21/2013 10:26:32 AM--2013]

CHAPTER 259 - CORONERS

NRS 259.010           Coroners’ districts; inapplicability of chapter.

NRS 259.020           Sheriffs are ex officio coroners; exceptions.

NRS 259.025           Account for support of office of county coroner.

NRS 259.030           Travel and subsistence.

NRS 259.040           Deputies.

NRS 259.045           Coroner to notify next of kin of decedent of fact of death.

NRS 259.050           Investigation into cause of death; inquest.

NRS 259.060           Penalty for failure to attend as juror.

NRS 259.070           Oath of juror.

NRS 259.080           Fees of jurors; expenses of transportation of jury.

NRS 259.090           Inquest: Summoning and examination of witnesses; examination of decedent; adjournment.

NRS 259.100           Witness failing to attend punishable for contempt.

NRS 259.110           Rendition of verdict: Certification; contents.

NRS 259.120           Testimony to be reduced to writing and filed with clerk of district court.

NRS 259.130           Warrant to issue for accused.

NRS 259.140           Service and return of warrant.

NRS 259.150           Inventory of money and property of decedent; delivery to county treasurer; signs prohibiting entrance to residence of decedent; penalty for disregard of prohibition.

NRS 259.160           Duties of county treasurer pertaining to money and property of decedent.

NRS 259.170           Payment to representatives of decedent.

NRS 259.180           Burial of decedent; payment of expenses.

NRS 259.200           Fee of justice of the peace for holding inquest.

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      NRS 259.010  Coroners’ districts; inapplicability of chapter.

      1.  Every county in this State constitutes a coroner’s district, except a county where a coroner is appointed pursuant to the provisions of NRS 244.163.

      2.  The provisions of this chapter, except NRS 259.025 and 259.150 to 259.180, inclusive, do not apply to any county where a coroner is appointed pursuant to the provisions of NRS 244.163.

      [1:107:1909; RL § 7542; NCL § 11425]—(NRS A 1963, 198; 1969, 664; 1979, 1368; 2005, 1063)

      NRS 259.020  Sheriffs are ex officio coroners; exceptions.  Except in any county where a coroner is appointed pursuant to NRS 244.163, all sheriffs in this state are ex officio coroners, unless such an arrangement is altered pursuant to the mechanism set forth in NRS 244.1507.

      [Part 2:107:1909; A 1911, 58; 1949, 595; 1943 NCL § 11426]—(NRS A 1979, 1368; 2009, 594)

      NRS 259.025  Account for support of office of county coroner.

      1.  The board of county commissioners of each county may create in the county general fund an account for the support of the office of the county coroner. The county treasurer shall deposit in that account the money received from:

      (a) The State Registrar of Vital Statistics pursuant to NRS 440.690; and

      (b) A district health officer pursuant to NRS 440.715.

      2.  The money in the account must be accounted for separately and not as a part of any other account.

      3.  The interest and income earned on the money in the account, after deducting any applicable charges, must be credited to the account.

      4.  Claims against the account must be paid as other claims against the county are paid.

      5.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 8, the county coroner may use the money in the account to pay expenses relating to:

      (a) A youth program involving the office of the county coroner, including, without limitation, a program of visitation established pursuant to NRS 62E.720;

      (b) Training for a member of the staff of the office of the county coroner;

      (c) Training an ex officio coroner and his or her deputies on the investigation of deaths; and

      (d) The purchase of specialized equipment for the office of the county coroner.

      6.  Any money remaining in the account at the end of any fiscal year does not revert to the county general fund and must be carried forward to the next fiscal year.

      7.  Before the end of each fiscal year:

      (a) The board of county commissioners of each county that constitutes a coroner’s district pursuant to NRS 259.010 and which has created an account for the support of the office of the county coroner pursuant to subsection 1 shall designate the office of a county coroner created pursuant to NRS 244.163 to receive the money in the account.

      (b) The county treasurer of each county that constitutes a coroner’s district pursuant to NRS 259.010 and for which the board of county commissioners has created an account for the support of the office of the county coroner pursuant to subsection 1 shall transfer all money in the account to the county treasurer of the county in which the office of the county coroner designated pursuant to paragraph (a) is established.

      (c) The county treasurer of the county in which the office of the county coroner designated pursuant to paragraph (a) is established shall:

             (1) Deposit all the money received pursuant to paragraph (b) into the account created in that county pursuant to subsection 1; and

             (2) Account for the money received from each county in separate subaccounts.

      8.  The office of the county coroner designated to receive money pursuant to subsection 7 may only use the money in each subaccount and any interest attributable to that money to pay expenses which are incurred in the county from which the money was transferred and which relate to the training of an ex officio coroner and his or her deputies on the investigation of deaths.

      (Added to NRS by 2005, 1062)

      NRS 259.030  Travel and subsistence.  The coroner is entitled to allowances for the expenses of any travel and subsistence which the coroner necessarily incurs in the performance of his or her duties.

      [18:107:1909; A 1955, 60]—(NRS A 1979, 1368)

      NRS 259.040  Deputies.

      1.  All coroners may appoint deputies, who are authorized to transact such official business pertaining to the office as their principals direct. Coroners are responsible for the compensation of the deputies and are responsible on their official bonds for all official malfeasance or nonfeasance of the deputies. The appointment of a deputy must not be construed to confer upon that deputy policymaking authority for the office of the county coroner or the county by which the deputy is employed.

      2.  All appointments of deputies must be made in writing and must, with the oath of office, be filed in the office of the recorder of the county within which the principal holds and exercises his or her office.

      [Part 2:107:1909; A 1911, 58; 1949, 595; 1943 NCL § 11426]—(NRS A 1979, 1368; 2005, 683)

      NRS 259.045  Coroner to notify next of kin of decedent of fact of death.  The coroner shall notify a decedent’s next of kin of the fact of decedent’s death without unreasonable delay.

      (Added to NRS by 1973, 900)

      NRS 259.050  Investigation into cause of death; inquest.

      1.  When a coroner or the coroner’s deputy is informed that a person has been killed, has committed suicide or has suddenly died under such circumstances as to afford reasonable ground to suspect that the death has been occasioned by unnatural means, the coroner shall make an appropriate investigation.

      2.  In all cases where it is apparent or can be reasonably inferred that the death may have been caused by a criminal act, the coroner or the coroner’s deputy shall notify the district attorney of the county where the inquiry is made, and the district attorney shall make an investigation with the assistance of the coroner. If the sheriff is not ex officio the coroner, the coroner shall also notify the sheriff, and the district attorney and sheriff shall make the investigation with the assistance of the coroner.

      3.  The holding of a coroner’s inquest is within the sound discretion of the district attorney or district judge of the county. An inquest need not be conducted in any case of death manifestly occasioned by natural cause, suicide, accident or when it is publicly known that the death was caused by a person already in custody, but an inquest must be held unless the district attorney or a district judge certifies that no inquest is required.

      4.  If an inquest is to be held, the district attorney shall call upon a justice of the peace of the county to preside over it. The justice of the peace shall summon three persons qualified by law to serve as jurors, to appear before the justice of the peace forthwith at the place where the body is or such other place within the county as may be designated by him or her to inquire into the cause of death.

      5.  A single inquest may be held with respect to more than one death, where all the deaths were occasioned by a common cause.

      [3:107:1909; A 1919, 60; 1949, 152; 1943 NCL § 11427]—(NRS A 1977, 666; 1979, 1369)

      NRS 259.060  Penalty for failure to attend as juror.  Every person summoned as a juror who fails to appear without having a reasonable excuse, shall forfeit a sum, not exceeding $100, to be recovered by the district attorney, in any court of competent jurisdiction, and paid by the person into the county treasury.

      [4:107:1909; RL § 7545; NCL § 11428]—(NRS A 1979, 1369)

      NRS 259.070  Oath of juror.  When the jurors attend, they must be sworn by the justice of the peace to inquire who the person was, and when, where and by what means the person came to his or her death, and into the circumstances attending his or her death, and to render a true verdict thereon according to the evidence.

      [5:107:1909; A 1919, 60; 1919 RL § 7546; NCL § 11429]—(NRS A 1979, 1369)

      NRS 259.080  Fees of jurors; expenses of transportation of jury.

      1.  Jurors of coroners’ juries (with not more than three persons upon the jury) are entitled to receive for each day’s service $15, to be certified to the county clerk by the justice of the peace, and audited, allowed and paid as are other claims against the county.

      2.  When it is necessary for a coroner’s jury to travel a greater distance than 1 mile to view the remains, or to the place where the inquest is to be held, the necessary and actual expenses incurred for the transportation of the jury must be allowed, audited and paid as are other claims against the county, after having been duly certified by the justice of the peace.

      [Part 2:69:1919; A 1933, 68, 152; 1937, 210; 1949, 10; 1951, 107; 1953, 134]—(NRS A 1963, 348; 1979, 1370; 1983, 1010)

      NRS 259.090  Inquest: Summoning and examination of witnesses; examination of decedent; adjournment.

      1.  The justice of the peace may issue subpoenas for witnesses, returnable as the justice of the peace may direct, and served by such person as he or she may direct.

      2.  He or she must summon and examine as witnesses every person who, in his or her opinion or that of any of the jurors, has any knowledge of the facts, and he or she may summon a qualified surgeon or physician to inspect the body, or hold a postmortem examination thereon, or a chemist to make an analysis of the stomach or the tissues of the deceased and give a professional opinion as to the cause of the death.

      3.  The coroner may adjourn the inquest from time to time as may be necessary.

      [6:107:1909; A 1949, 595; 1943 NCL § 11430]—(NRS A 1979, 1370)

      NRS 259.100  Witness failing to attend punishable for contempt.  Any witness failing to obey the subpoena of the justice of the peace may be attached and fined for contempt in like manner as in a justice court.

      [7:107:1909; RL § 7548; NCL § 11431]—(NRS A 1979, 1370)

      NRS 259.110  Rendition of verdict: Certification; contents.  After inspecting the body and hearing the testimony, the jury shall render their verdict and certify the same by an inquisition in writing, signed by them, and setting forth the name of the deceased, when, where and by what means the deceased came to his or her death; if by criminal means, the name of the person causing the death.

      [8:107:1909; RL § 7549; NCL § 11432]

      NRS 259.120  Testimony to be reduced to writing and filed with clerk of district court.  The testimony at such an inquest must be reduced to writing in such manner as the justice of the peace may direct, and filed by him or her, without delay, in the office of the clerk of the district court of the county.

      [9:107:1909; RL § 7550; NCL § 11433]—(NRS A 1979, 1370)

      NRS 259.130  Warrant to issue for accused.  If the jury finds that the dead person was killed by another person under circumstances not excusable or justifiable in law, and that the person who committed the act is not in custody, the justice of the peace shall issue a warrant signed by him or her, with his or her name of office, for the arrest of the accused.

      [10:107:1909; RL § 7551; NCL § 11434]—(NRS A 1979, 1370)

      NRS 259.140  Service and return of warrant.  The warrant of the justice of the peace may be served in any county of the State, and the officer serving such a warrant may return it before a magistrate of the county in which it is issued. The officer receiving such a warrant has the same power under the warrant as the officer would have by virtue of a warrant from any court or magistrate of this state.

      [11:107:1909; RL § 7552; NCL § 11435]—(NRS A 1979, 1370)

      NRS 259.150  Inventory of money and property of decedent; delivery to county treasurer; signs prohibiting entrance to residence of decedent; penalty for disregard of prohibition.

      1.  The coroner shall inventory, in the presence of at least one other person, any money or property which may have been found on or about the deceased, unless taken from his or her possession by legal authority, and shall deliver without delay a signed copy of the inventory and the money or property to the treasurer of the county. If the coroner fails to pay or deliver such money or property to the county treasurer, the county treasurer may recover it by an action at law.

      2.  The coroner shall affix appropriate seals, signs or other devices prohibiting entrance to the residence of a deceased person who had lived alone under circumstances indicating that no other person can reasonably be expected to provide immediate security for the deceased’s property. Any person, except the coroner, the coroner’s deputy, a law enforcement officer or the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, who removes such a coroner’s seal, sign or other device or who enters upon any property bearing such a seal, sign or other device is guilty of a misdemeanor.

      [12:107:1909; RL § 7553; NCL § 11436]—(NRS A 1977, 910; 1979, 14)

      NRS 259.160  Duties of county treasurer pertaining to money and property of decedent.

      1.  Upon payment of money into the county treasurer’s office in such case, he or she shall place it to the credit of the county. Upon the delivery of property, he or she shall:

      (a) Deliver such property to the public administrator for disposition according to law; or

      (b) Give written notice to the public administrator of his or her intention to sell such property at public sale.

      2.  If within 10 days after the giving of notice pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection 1, the public administrator claims the property for disposition, the county treasurer shall deliver it to him or her.

      3.  If the public administrator does not claim the property as provided in subsection 1, the county treasurer may, after giving notice by posting at the courthouse for at least 10 days, sell the property at public sale and place the proceeds to the credit of the county.

      [13:107:1909; RL § 7554; NCL § 11437]—(NRS A 1969, 664)

      NRS 259.170  Payment to representatives of decedent.  If the money or the proceeds from the sale of property are demanded within 6 years, the county treasurer shall pay the same to the person legally authorized to receive it, but the same may be paid at any subsequent time to the representatives of the deceased upon an order from the tribunal invested with the power to allow claims against the county.

      [14:107:1909; A 1911, 59; RL § 7555; NCL § 11438]—(NRS A 1969, 664)

      NRS 259.180  Burial of decedent; payment of expenses.  After the inquest, if no one takes charge of the body, the coroner shall cause it to be decently buried. The expenses of the burial must be paid from the money deposited with the county treasurer or the estate of the deceased, as the case may be. If the deceased has no money or estate, or the money or estate of the deceased is insufficient to bear the entire cost of burial, the county in which the deceased is buried shall bear the cost of the burial in excess of any money or estate available.

      [16:107:1909; RL § 7557; NCL § 11440]—(NRS A 1969, 664; 1979, 14)

      NRS 259.200  Fee of justice of the peace for holding inquest.

      1.  A justice of the peace is entitled, for each day necessarily employed in holding an inquest, to a fee of $23.

      2.  This fee must be paid out of the county treasury as other demands against the county are paid.

      [17:107:1909; A 1933, 259; 1949, 152; 1953, 127]—(NRS A 1979, 1370; 1993, 1353; 2001, 3213)