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Course & Subject Guides
Book On Allegheny County Coroner's Office
Publication Date: 2007
A journalist's experiences in the Allegheny County Coroner's Office in 2000.
What Makes a Case File?
A Coroner Case File is comprised of a variety of forms; however, throughout the majority of the collection every file has three standard forms: Press Report, Proof of Identity, and Coroner's Jury Verdict.
- Press Report, Form 25-Coroner, provides a summary of the deceased, the fatal incident, and the inquest.
- Proof of Identity, Form 24-Coroner, is an affidavit signed by a family member or friend of the deceased confirming their identity and any known details surrounding the incident.
- Coroner's Jury Verdict, Form 13-Coroner, provides information pertaining to the deceased and the official cause of death as determined by the jury, whose individual names appear at the bottom of the form. Occasionally the verdict also assigns blame for the incident.
In addition to these pages, there were several other standardized forms utilized by the Coroner's Office during the course of an inquest:
- Form 2 - A general Affidavit page used to collect witness statements.
- Form 169 - The Notarized Affidavit could be submitted if the statement could not be given to the coroner, jury or law enforcement official.
- Form 31 - If a formal testimony was required, including questions from the coroner or jury and the witness's response, this form was used.
- Form 12-Coroner - The Inquisition Verdict page is an early version of the Jury Verdict form described above and is rarely used in the collection.
- Form 15-Coroner - The Special Jury on Body document contains information about the coroner's jury and is typically used for particularly controversial deaths.
- Form 17 - A hospital could request an inquest be held for a suspicious death by submitting this Request to Coroner form.
Prior to the use of standardized forms, much of this information was handwritten on pieces of lined paper that were connected with a metal brad. Even after forms were widely used, autopsy reports, witness testimony and physician notes were still included on regular paper until they, too, were regulated.
In addition to written information collected from the coroner's office, law enforcement, and physicians, files may also include photographs of the accident location. Newspaper clippings may also be included in files providing additional background information on the accident and occasionally the result of any resulting legal action. If a file pertains to a suicide and a note was left by the deceased it may also be present.