The primary purpose of the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office is to determine the cause and manner of death of persons who die suddenly, violently, or unexpectedly while in apparent good health within the geographic boundaries of the county and who fall under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner. (RCW Chap. 68.50)
Information gained from medicolegal investigations is frequently required in the form of evidence and expert testimony in both criminal and civil legal proceedings. Examinations also benefit families of work-related deaths, help identify potentially unsafe consumer products, and assist public health by identifying poisons or infections agents. Most importantly, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office represents a resource of impartial professionals and support staff providing continuous objective medicolegal investigations to the people of Snohomish County.
The main function of the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office is the determination of the cause and manner of death which are of concern to the public health, safety and welfare. The investigation and determination of cause and manner of death is performed by highly trained technical staff and the application of modern medicine and forensic science to the death investigation process. There are several reasons why an accurate determination of the cause and manner of death is essential to our society:
- The innocent shall be exonerated.
- Murder shall be recognized.
- Criminal and civil court proceedings will be provided with documented, sound and impartial medical evidence.
- Unrecognized hazards to public health and safety shall be revealed.
- Industrial hazards shall be exposed.
While the Medical Examiner’s Office works hand-in-hand with law enforcement, the prosecuting attorney and various health agencies, the Medical Examiner has fully separate and independent authority and jurisdiction over the medical investigation of deaths, including, but not limited to the following:
- Apparent natural deaths
- Officer involved and in-custody deaths
- Deaths of children