I was asked that question recently.
The Code of Alabama establishes a standardized system of County Governance, including the office of Coroner in Title 11: Counties and Municipal Corporations; Coroner’s description at Section 11-5-1. The Coroner “holds inquests” and “shall have the authority to certify any death…” which are duties that you would expect. But another duty of the Coroner is to provide a check and balance to the Sheriff (the Coroner is like a replacement Sheriff):
Section 11-5-5 – When to discharge duties of sheriff generally.
The coroner must discharge the duties of the sheriff:
(1) When the office of sheriff is vacant and until his successor is qualified;
(2) When the sheriff is incompetent to act;
(3) When the sheriff is imprisoned;
(4) In cases to which the sheriff is a party; and
(5) In such cases as he is directed by the judge of probate.
Section 11-5-6 – When to act as keeper of jail.
The coroner shall be keeper of the jail when the sheriff is imprisoned.
Alabama law states that a county coroner is not a medical or forensic professional – but our county deserves a self-sufficient Coroner’s office that is operated outside of any funeral home or other private business.
Vote for Craig Whisenant for Madison County Coroner!