Laws of New York State
Reference: New York State Legislature
Last Update: Feb 22, 2015

§677 - Records; reports

Cite: N.Y. C.N.T. Law § 677 (Consol.).


1. The writing made by the coroner, or by the coroner and coroner's physician, or by the medical examiner, at the place where he takes charge of the body, shall be filed promptly in the office of the coroner or medical examiner. The testimony of witnesses examined before him and the report of any examination made or directed by him shall be made in writing or reduced to writing and thereupon filed in such office.

2. The report of any autopsy or other examination shall state every fact and circumstance tending to show the condition of the body and the cause and means or manner of death. The person performing an autopsy, for the purpose of determining the cause of death or means or manner of death, shall enter upon the record the pathological appearances and findings, embodying such information as may be prescribed by the commissioner of health, and append thereto the diagnosis of the cause of death and of the means or manner of death. Methods and forms prescribed by the commissioner of health for obtaining and preserving records and statistics of autopsies conducted within the state shall be employed. A detailed description of the findings, written during the progress of the autopsy, and the conclusions drawn therefrom shall, when completed, be filed in the office of the coroner or medical examiner.

3. (a) The coroner or coroners of each county, or the medical examiner, shall keep full and complete records, properly indexed, stating the name, if known, of every person whose death is investigated, the place where the body was found, the date of death, if known, and if not known, the date or approximate date as determined by the investigation, to which there shall be attached the original report of the coroner, or coroner and coroner's physician or physician employed, or medical examiner, and the detailed findings of the autopsy, if any. Such records shall be kept in the office of the county clerk except in those counties having a full-time coroner or medical examiner, in which case such records shall be kept in the office of the coroner or medical examiner.

(b) Such records shall be open to inspection by the district attorney of the county. Upon application of the personal representative, spouse or next of kin of the deceased to the coroner or the medical examiner, a copy of the autopsy report, as described in subdivision two of this section shall be furnished to such applicant. Upon proper application of any person who is or may be affected in a civil or criminal action by the contents of the record of any investigation, or upon application of any person having a substantial interest therein, an order may be made by a court of record, or by a justice of the supreme court, that the record of that investigation be made available for his inspection, or that a transcript thereof be furnished to him, or both.

4. The coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall promptly deliver to the district attorney copies of all records pertaining to any death whenever, in his opinion, or in the judgment of the person performing the autopsy, there is any indication that a crime was committed.

5. The coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall promptly report to the commissioner of motor vehicles, in a form and manner specified by the commissioner, the results of all quantitative tests for alcohol, and for any trace of a controlled substance, as defined in section three thousand three hundred six of the public health law, that the coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner has reasonable cause to believe is present, performed upon bodies of victims of motor vehicle accidents pursuant to the requirements of subdivision three of section six hundred seventy-four of this chapter.

6. The coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall promptly provide the chairman of the correction medical review board and the commissioner of correctional services with copies of any autopsy report, toxicological report or any report of any examination or inquiry prepared with respect to any death occurring to an inmate of a correctional facility as defined by subdivision three of section forty of the correction law within his county; and shall promptly provide the executive director of the justice center for the protection of people with special needs with copies of any autopsy report, toxicology report or any report of any examination or inquiry prepared with respect to the death of any service recipient occurring while he or she was a resident in any facility operated, licensed or certified by any agency within the department of mental hygiene, the office of children and family services, the department of health or the state education department. If the toxicological report is prepared pursuant to any agreement or contract with any person, partnership, corporation or governmental agency with the coroner or medical examiner, such report shall be promptly provided to the chairman of the correction medical review board, the commissioner of correctional services or the executive director of the justice center for people with special needs, as appropriate, by such person, partnership, corporation or governmental agency.

7. (a) Upon the written request of the commissioner of mental health, the commissioner of the office for persons with developmental disabilities, the director of the mental hygiene legal service, the executive director of the justice center for the protection of people with special needs or the director of a mental hygiene facility, as defined in subdivision two of section five hundred fifty of the executive law, at which the deceased was a patient or resident, the coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall provide such person with a copy of all reports and records, including, but not limited to, autopsy reports and toxicological reports related to the deceased prepared by a person, partnership, corporation or governmental agency pursuant to any agreement or contract with the coroner or medical examiner with respect to the death of a patient or resident receiving services at such a mental hygiene facility.

(b) Upon the written request of the commissioner of mental health, or commissioner of developmental disabilities, or a director of a departmental facility as defined in section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law, or the executive director of the justice center for the protection of people with special needs, the coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall transmit to the commissioner, or such director, or any member of the justice center medical review board, original autopsy slides, tissue materials and specimens taken from the body of a deceased patient or resident as defined in paragraph (a) of this section. Such original materials may be used and tested by such office of the department of mental hygiene, or such director, and justice center medical review board pursuant to its authority under section five hundred fifty-six of the executive law. Such slides, materials and specimens may be retained for a reasonable time, and shall be returned to the office of the coroner or medical examiner in good condition allowing for reasonable use for study and testing purposes.

8. The coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner shall promptly, but in no event later than sixty days from the date of death, absent extraordinary circumstances, provide the office of children and family services with copies of any autopsy report, toxicological report or any report of any examination or inquiry prepared with respect to any death occurring to a child whose care and custody or custody and guardianship has been transferred to an authorized agency, a child for whom child protective services has an open case, a child for whom the local department of social services has an open preventive services case, or a child reported to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment. If the toxicological report is prepared pursuant to any agreement or contract with any person, partnership, corporation or governmental agency with the coroner or medical examiner, such report shall be promptly, but in no event later than sixty days from the date of death, absent extraordinary circumstances, provided to the office of children and family services by such person, partnership, corporation or governmental agency. Where the death involves a child reported to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment, the reports referred to in this subdivision shall also be promptly, but in no event later than sixty days from the date of death, absent extraordinary circumstances, provided to the local child protective service investigating the report pursuant to section four hundred twenty-four of the social services law.

9. When required for official purposes of the state department of health, the state commissioner of health or his or her designee may request copies of all reports and records related to a death, including, but not limited to, autopsy reports and toxicology reports. Upon receipt of the written request of the state commissioner of health or his or her designee, a coroner, coroner's physician or medical examiner, shall, within three business days of their completion, provide to such commissioner or his or her designee a copy of all reports and records, including, but not limited to, autopsy reports and toxicology reports related to the death.

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