State proposal would require coroners be licensed

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Associated Press, staff | March 18, 2014

GREEN BAY — Those who investigate deaths in Wisconsin could face tougher licensing restrictions under a proposal aimed at preventing missteps that might impede a criminal investigation.

Supporters want coroners and medical examiners to be licensed and receive 40 hours of training. They also want the state to create a board that oversees the state's elected coroners and sets requirements for continuing education, the Press-Gazette Media reported Saturday.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that doesn't require that coroners and medical examiners have specific training.

In Walworth County, the county board voted unanimously last week to change its ordinances abolishing the county coroner's office and replacing it with a medical examiner. The medical examiner will be appointed by and will answer to the county board. The board also can decide what qualifications the medical examiner should have.

The proposal is aimed at counties where coroners are elected to office. The proposed changes must still clear a number of legislative hurdles.

Republican state Rep. Chad Weininger said the current lack of a training requirement means anyone could get elected, regardless of training.

"What that could mean is that somebody down the road could get away with murder," he said.

The daughter of a man who died in Monroe County in 2010 wonders if that already happened. Robert Lichtie died after a fall that family members consider suspicious, but a coroner allowed his body to be cremated before authorities could rule out foul play.

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