The coroner system dates back as far as 910A.D. with Alfred the Great. Henry II and the kings who followed him were always concerned about the activities of the local officials, especially the sheriff. (Shirereeve). They were afraid they were not getting all the death tax money. The king appointed a coroner ( means representative of the crown) to watch over the sheriff and judges. They were to look into all deaths to make sure death duties were paid to the king. In 1194, Richard the Lionhearted formalized the coroner system. The colonists brought the concept to the colonies from England. The first American Coroner wash Thomas Baldrid of St. Mary’s, Maryland. He was appointed on January 29th, 1637. By the middle of the 16th century the office of the coroner had become an elected official.
Today, in New York state we operate under two systems, a Coroner system or a Medical Examiner system. Coroners are elected to a 4 year term and answer to the people of the county. The board also appoints a coroner’s physician. With the Medical Examiner system, the Board of supervisors appoint a pathologists with appointed medico-legal death investigators to do the field work. Both system have advantages and disadvantages.