In the United States, a coroner is a physician who studies the human body through different tests and observations to come to an official cause of death. They are responsible for the dead bodies that come into the morgue. If the death seems suspicious, they begin an investigation into the cause of death. Most countries believe that a death that occurs outside of the traditional hospital facility is potentially suspicious, so most deaths are investigated by a coroner. They are responsible for studying the remains and determining a time and a cause of death. They will also issue the formal death certificate which states all of the aspects of the death. If the death is ruled a homicide, the information gathered will be used in any future court proceedings.
They also deal with the court proceedings. In the event of an investigation into a death where the body has already been buried, the coroner gives permission for the body to be exhumed. They will also be responsible for handling all of the aspects of the death investigation and reporting the information to the courts. Once the investigation has finished and the courts are done with the remains, they release the body to the family for burial.
In some countries, coroners act more in the role of an investigator and are a part of the court system. They also preside over the court proceedings to determine an official cause of death. Evidence is presented through the court and a cause of death is determined with the coroner acting as a judge over the proceedings.
A coroner has many different meanings and job duties in different countries. While some may act more as medical examiners, others work more in an official capacity. In England, because of an old law, they are responsible for making the rulings when a treasure is found. The coroners decide who the treasure rightfully belongs to.