The Office of the Coroner practices Forensic Pathology for St. Tammany Parish. The legal purpose of the Coroner is to protect the public health and legal requirements of the Parish relating to Forensic Pathology.
The Coroner is an elected official with many responsibilities, the foremost of which is the investigation and certification of a variety of deaths of legal or public health interest. The Coroner is required, by law, to determine the cause, circumstances and manner of death for those cases found to be under the Coroner's legal jurisdiction. The Coroner also has the legal responsibility for emergency mental health interdiction, via the Order for Protective Custody and the Coroner’s Emergency Certificate.
All deaths in St. Tammany Parish are required to be reported to the Coroner’s Office. This does not mean that all deaths will require autopsy. Natural deaths, due to a sequel of a natural disease process, with no suspicious circumstances will not require an autopsy, and the treating physician will sign the death certificate. However, all deaths in which there is some reason to believe that the death is not due to a natural disease process, is a homicide, suicide, accident or one of the many types of deaths mentioned by law may very well require an autopsy.
Only the Coroner can investigate and sign the Death Certificate if the death is related to a homicide, suicide, accident, a patient with no attending physician, an industrial related death, an unidentified person or where there is some medical reason to consider that the death might be due to a contagious disease.
In addition to the work that is performed in accordance with the various sections of local, State and Federal Laws, in some instances, examination of living persons is performed for a number of purposes. Adults and children are examined to evaluate injuries and/or to collect evidence.
The DNA Laboratory of the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office performs forensic DNA analysis for all law enforcement agencies within St. Tammany Parish. The results of the DNA testing are often presented as expert testimony in the criminal and civil courts of the Parish.