Kane Gives Program on Coroner's Office

County Coroner P.J. Kane. (Photo by Pat Blair)
County Coroner P.J. Kane. (Photo by Pat Blair)

Under Wyoming law, the county coroner is the only county official who has authority to arrest the county sheriff.

That's one of the facts presented by Sheridan County Coroner P.J. Kane in a talk Friday afternoon at the Sheridan Rotary Club. Kane said in some states, the coroner is also a law enforcement officer, although in Wyoming that's restricted to the coroner's relationship regarding the sheriff.

Kane said the coroner's office actually began in England during the reign of King Henry II in the 12th century.

At that time, Kane said, the coroner's duties involved investigating when the sheriff shot someone. Kane said holding an inquest into a death is still the coroner's duty, to determine the cause of death and whether a death is homicide, suicide, accidental or natural causes.

Kane said until the early 1980s, there were no requirements for a coroner in Wyoming. Laws changed, and starting in 1984, Kane said, a person who wanted to become county coroner had to take a 40-hour class and go through 16 hours of certification every two years.

Until that time, Kane said, coroners in Wyoming were funeral directors, but with the new requirements, the funeral directors started to drop away. Kane said there are now only two funeral directors who serve as county coroners, one in Johnson County and one in Converse County.

Kane himself is a retired funeral director, having recently sold Kane Funeral Home.Kane said Sheridan County is lucky enough now to have a forensic pathologist.

Kane said another big change in the coroner's work happened in 1996 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA, which requires confidential handling of protected health information. He said HIPAA made it harder for coroners to get medical information from doctors.

View another photo below.

Another shot of Kane. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Another shot of Kane. (Photo by Pat Blair)

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