Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
Section 6 of chapter 38 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out the first paragraph, as amended by chapter 323 of the acts of 1989, and inserting in place thereof the following four paragraphs:-
When any person in the commonwealth is supposed to have died by violence or by the action of chemical, thermal or electrical agents or following abortion or from diseases resulting from injury or infection relating to occupation or suddenly when not disabled by recognizable disease or from malnutrition or from sexual abuse or a child who is determined to be physically dependent upon an addictive drug at birth or when any person is found dead, it shall be the duty of any person having knowledge of such death immediately to notify the medical examiner of the district of the county wherein the body lies of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner, circumstances and cause of such death. A physician who, having knowledge of such a death, fails to notify the medical examiner shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. Immediately upon receipt of such notification, the medical examiner shall carefully inquire into the cause and circumstances of the death and if, as a result of such inquiry, he is of the opinion that death may have resulted from violence or unnatural causes, he shall go to the dead body and take charge of the same and shall so notify the next of kin, if known, or cause them to be notified that the medical examiner is taking jurisdiction of the body and of the next location to which the deceased person will be taken.
If the medical examiner is unable to respond and take charge of the dead body in an expeditious manner, the chief of police of the town wherein the body lies, or his representative, may seek telephone authority from the medical examiner to move such body after documenting all facts relevant to the appearance, condition and position of the body and every fact and circumstance tending to show the cause and circumstances of death and, upon removal of any such body, shall so notify the next of kin, if known, or cause them to be notified, that the chief of police is taking jurisdiction of the body and of the next location to which the deceased person will be taken.
If the chief of police or his representative is unable to reach the medical examiner he may call the headquarters office of the office of the chief medical examiner and seek telephone authority as hereinbefore prescribed. If neither the medical examiner nor the headquarters office can be contacted the chief of police or his representative, or the representative of the district attorney may authorize transfer of the body to the regional medical examiner's office or to a funeral home. All documentation concerning the death will be communicated to the medical examiner with names and addresses of all known witnesses.
Upon taking charge of the dead body and before moving the same the medical examiner shall carefully note the appearance, the condition and the position of the body and record every fact and circumstance tending to show the cause and manner of death with names and addresses of all known witnesses and subscribe the same and make such record a part of his report as provided in section seven. If on view of the dead body and after personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death, the medical examiner considers a further examination necessary in the public interest, he shall immediately notify the district attorney of the district and county within whose jurisdiction the body lies of his intention to make such further examination. The body shall not be moved, and the scene where the body is located shall not be disturbed, until the district attorney or his representative either arrives at the scene or gives directions as to what shall be done at the scene and for the removal of the body. The district attorney and his law enforcement representative, upon receipt of notification of the death, shall thereafter be the authority to direct and control the criminal investigation of the death and shall coordinate the criminal investigation with the police within whose jurisdiction the death occurred. The police shall forthwith notify the district attorney or his law enforcement representative of such death. Such an autopsy shall be performed in the presence of two or more discreet persons whose attendance the medical examiner may compel by subpoena. If a medical examiner considers it necessary to have a physician present as a witness at an autopsy, such physician shall receive a fee of fifteen dollars. Other witnesses, except officers named in section fifty of chapter two hundred and sixty-two, shall be allowed ten dollars each. A clerk may be employed to record the results of such a view or autopsy and shall receive not more than five dollars per day therefor. Upon written order of the district attorney of the district wherein the body lies or of the attorney general, a medical examiner shall also make, or cause to be made in his presence, an autopsy under like conditions of any dead body within his county. The medical examiner may on his own authority, and shall if so requested by the district attorney of the county wherein the body lies, employ the services of a pathologist, a chemist or other expert to aid in the examination of the body or of substances supposed to have caused or contributed to death, and if the aforesaid pathologist, chemist or other expert is not already employed by the commonwealth or by the city or county wherein the body lies for the discharge of such services, he shall, upon written authorization of the medical examiner and of the district attorney, if such employment and services were requested by him, be allowed reasonable compensation, payable by the county in the manner provided in section nineteen. The medical examiner shall, at the time of the autopsy, record or cause to be recorded each fact and circumstance tending to show the condition of the body and the cause and manner of death, with the names and addresses of witnesses, which record he shall subscribe. The medical examiner may allow reasonable compensation, payable by the county in the manner provided in section nineteen, for the transportation of such bodies as need to be moved to a place where they can be more satisfactorily examined, and for the use of such quarters as may be necessary for the performance of an autopsy.