Coroner's Inquest vs. Coroner's Manner of Death Determination
At the conclusion of a death investigation, a determination regarding manner of death is made; whether a death is natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or undetermined. Each family is given a choice when it comes to the manner of death determination. They may request to go through the formal inquest process or they may allow the Coroner to make the manner of death determination. If an Inquest is requested, then a public hearing will be scheduled. A Coroner's Inquest is neither a civil nor a criminal trial proceeding; however it is a hearing into the manner and cause of an individual's death.
An Inquest is conducted by the Coroner or Chief Deputy Coroner with six primary and two alternate jurors present. These jurors are citizens of McLean County; the County in which the death occurred.
Purpose of an Inquest
The purpose of the Inquest is to present pertinent non-biased information concerning the individual's death in order for the jury to arrive at a cause and manner of death. The cause of death is provided to the jury via an autopsy report or opinion based upon review of medical records. Additional testimony is heard regarding the circumstances of the death and at the conclusion of testimony, the jurors are directed to deliberate in privacy regarding their manner of death decision.
Open to the Public
The inquest is open to the public and may not be closed pursuant to any requests to do so.
Affect on a Case
The Coroner's Jury Verdict has no civil or criminal trial significance. The Verdict and Inquest proceedings are fact-finding in nature and statistical in purpose.
Coroner's Manner of Death Determination
The majority of families allow the Coroner to make the Manner of Death Determination without going through the formal inquest process. As such, the case is administratively closed without a formal public hearing.
For More Information
If you would like to receive a brochure detailing the Coroner's Inquest process in McLean County, contact the Coroner's Office at (309) 888-5210.