NC lawmakers held a special legislative hearing
on Monday promising to address issues within the state’s
broken Medical Examiner’s Office. The Office of the Medical Examiner,
which recently moved to Raleigh, is run by a competent but overworked and understaffed civil servant, Dr. Deborah Radisch.
Local medical examiners are largely full-time doctors, who
are paid a $100 fee (with no gas milage reimbursement) to
trek out and deal with suspicious deaths. Legislators discussed
a boost in pay to local medical examiners to spur them to
do their jobs.
A thorough 5-part investigation published by The Charlotte Observer
in May revealed that in 90 percent of cases, the state’s local medical examiners
don’t investigate suspicious deaths. In one out of nine cases, the
medical examiners don’t even go out to the crime scene to examine
After the series broke, Pat McCrory asked for an additional $2 million
dollar investment into the medical examiner’s office.
Even in the cases where bodies are brought back and
autopsied at the main Medical Examiner’s Office in Raleigh,
the lack of trained staff means the autopsies won’t likely
be performed by certified forensic pathologists,
who know how to look for signs of foul play.
North Carolina spends 84 cents per capita on death investigations while the
average state spends $1.74 per capita. Texas spends more than $2.30 on investigations.
The Observer series which sparked the special legislative hearing
can be read here.