In counties having a population less than 40,000, the Prosecuting Attorney also serves as the Coroner. Even though Clallam County's population is well over 40,000, the Prosecuting Attorney still serves as the ex officio Coroner by operation of Article IV, Section 4.20 of the Clallam County Home Rule Charter.
The Coroner is responsible for investigating and certifying the manner and cause of death for certain types of death occurring within the County. The Coroner relies on the assistance of many others to accomplish this work and coordinates law enforcement, doctors and medical staff, hospice workers, forensic pathologists, regional medical examiners, investigators, family members and next of kin.
The Coroner is not a medical examiner and does not perform autopsies.
The Coroner has jurisdiction to investigate a death in the following circumstances:
- When a person dies suddenly when in apparent good health and without having received medical attendance within the thirty-six hours preceding death;
- When circumstances of the death indicate the death was caused entirely, or in part, by accidental, unnatural or unlawful means;
- When the death results from suspicious circumstances;
- When the death results from unknown or obscure causes;
- When the death occurs within one year following an accident;
- When the death is caused by any violence;
- When the death is due to a violent contagious disease which may be a public health hazard; and
- When the death occurs in a jail or prison.
After receiving a report of a death, the Coroner must determine whether or not to assume jurisdiction.
There is no morgue in Clallam County and the Coroner has no vehicles or equipment to remove the remains of deceased persons. Remains of deceased persons are removed by ambulance or funeral directors.
In cooperation with medical providers and hospice programs, the Coroner does not assume jurisdiction in most cases where a death has been anticipated due to a terminal illness.