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§ 945. Person to perform autopsy--Extent--Report of findings

Oklahoma Statutes AnnotatedTitle 63. Public Health and Safety

Oklahoma Statutes Annotated
Title 63. Public Health and Safety (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 37. Medicolegal Investigations
63 Okl.St.Ann. § 945
§ 945. Person to perform autopsy--Extent--Report of findings
A. When properly authorized, an autopsy shall be performed by the Chief Medical Examiner or such person as may be designated by him or her for such purpose. The Chief Medical Examiner or a person designated by him or her may authorize arterial embalming of the body prior to the autopsy when such embalming would in his or her opinion not interfere with the autopsy. The extent of the autopsy shall be made as is deemed necessary by the person performing the autopsy.
B. A full and complete report of the facts developed by the autopsy together with the findings of the person making it shall be prepared and filed in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner without unnecessary delay. Copies of such reports and findings shall be furnished to district attorneys and law enforcement officers making a criminal investigation in connection with the death.
C. Upon receiving a written, signed and dated records request, a copy of the full and complete report of the facts developed by the autopsy, together with the findings of the person making the report, shall be released by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to the public in the most expedient manner available or as requested by the records requester and, under the following conditions, shall be furnished to:
1. District attorneys and any law enforcement agency with authority to make a criminal investigation in connection with the death; provided, such copies shall not be shared with any other entity unless otherwise provided by law;
2. The spouse of the deceased or any person related within two (2) degrees of consanguinity to the deceased, unless the district attorney or law enforcement agency making a criminal investigation objects to the release of documents to any family member. District attorneys and law enforcement agencies shall be prohibited from objecting to the release of the full and complete autopsy report to the family if the decedent was in state custody, in custody of law enforcement or is deceased due to lethal action of a law enforcement officer; and
3. Any insurance company conducting an insurer's investigation of any insurance claim arising from the death of the individual upon whom the autopsy was performed.
D. The full and complete report of the facts developed by the autopsy, together with the findings of the person making the report, shall be withheld from public inspection and copying for ten (10) business days following the date the report is generated by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, except as provided for in subsection C of this section.
E. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shall produce a summary report of investigation by the medical examiner at the same time the full and complete report of the facts developed by the autopsy, together with the findings of the person making the report, is released to the parties listed in subsection C of this section. The summary report of investigation shall be made available for public inspection and copying without delay. Any person may obtain a copy of the summary report of investigation in the most expedient manner available or as requested by the records requester.
F. The summary report of investigation shall include, but not be limited to the following information, if known:
1. Decedent name, age, birth date, race, sex, home address, examiner notified by name and title and including date and time, location where decedent was injured or became ill, including name of facility, address, city, county, type of premises, date and time; location of death including name of facility, city, county, type of premises, date and time, and location body was viewed by medical examiner including address, city, county, type of premises and date and time;
2. If the death was a motor vehicle accident, whether the decedent was the driver, passenger or pedestrian, and the type of vehicle involved in the accident;
3. A description of the body, including but not limited to the external physical examination, rigor, livor, external observations including hair, eye color, body length and weight, and other external observations, as well as the presence and location of blood; and
4. The probable cause of death, other significant conditions contributing to the death but not resulting in the underlying cause given, manner of death, case disposition, case number, and name and contact information of the medical examiner performing the autopsy, including a signature and certification statement that the facts contained in the report are true and correct to the best of their knowledge and the date the report was signed and generated.
G. At the conclusion of the ten (10) business-day-period, the full and complete report shall be made available as a public record except when a district attorney or law enforcement agency with authority to make a criminal investigation in connection with the death declares that the full and complete report contains information that would materially compromise an ongoing criminal investigation. Such declaration shall be in writing to the Office of the Medical Examiner and be an open record available from the Office of Medical Examiner.
1. Upon such declaration, the district attorney or law enforcement agency shall request from the appropriate district court a hearing for an extension of time during which the full and complete autopsy report, not including information in the summary report, may be withheld.
2. When a request for an extension of time has been filed with the court, the full and complete autopsy report in question may be withheld until the court has issued a ruling on the requested extension of time to release the autopsy report. Such requests for an extension of time during which the autopsy may be withheld shall be made on the grounds that release of the full and complete autopsy report will materially compromise an ongoing criminal investigation.
3. Courts considering such requests shall conduct a hearing and consider whether the interests of the public outweigh the interests asserted by the district attorney or law enforcement agency.
4. If an extension of time is granted by the court, the initial extension shall be ordered by the court for a period of six (6) months. Subsequent extensions shall only be ordered after a hearing by the court for an additional one year and cumulative time extensions shall not exceed more than four (4) years and six (6) months; provided, under no circumstance shall an extension of time be granted by the court if the deceased person was in state custody, in custody of law enforcement or was deceased due to lethal action of a law enforcement officer.
5. In the event that six (6) months have expired from the date of the initial release of the autopsy report without any person being criminally charged in the case in question and release of the autopsy or portions of the autopsy have been denied on the grounds of materially compromising a criminal investigation, an appeal of such denial may be made to the appropriate district court. Courts considering appeals for temporarily withholding an autopsy report shall conduct a hearing and consider whether the interests of the public outweigh the interests asserted by the district attorney or law enforcement agency. In response to such appeals, the district court shall order that the autopsy report be made available for public inspection and copying with no redaction, or shall order an extension of time during which the autopsy report may be withheld under the provisions of this section.
6. Any court order obtained pursuant to this subsection shall be served upon the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner by the party requesting or granted the extension by the court.
H. An order granting an extension of time shall be applicable to the autopsy report for the duration of the extension; provided, each subsequent time extension shall only be ordered by the district court for an additional twelve-month period of time or less and cumulative time extensions shall not exceed four (4) years and six (6) months; provided, charges being filed against a person in the case in question or an autopsy report being entered into evidence as part of a criminal prosecution nullifies any granted extension of time.
I. The opportunities to withhold an autopsy report or portions of an autopsy report provided in this section shall expire in totality four (4) years and six (6) months after the date the autopsy report was generated, at which time the autopsy report previously withheld on the grounds provided for in this section shall be made available for public inspection and copying.
J. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a district attorney or law enforcement agency with authority to make a criminal investigation in connection with the death from immediately releasing portions of information contained in the full and complete autopsy report for the purposes of assisting with the criminal investigation or apprehension of any person involved in a criminal act that resulted in the death of another person.
K. After ten (10) business days from the release of the full and complete report, nothing in this section shall prohibit the spouse of the deceased or any person related within two (2) degrees of consanguinity to the deceased who has received a copy of the full and complete autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner from authorizing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's office to release the full and complete autopsy report to any other person subject to approval by the court.

Credits

Laws 1961, p. 607, § 15, eff. Jan. 2, 1962; Laws 1972, c. 246, § 14, emerg. eff. April 7, 1972; Laws 2014, c. 293, § 14, eff. Nov. 1, 2014; Laws 2017, c. 385, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 2017.
63 Okl. St. Ann. § 945, OK ST T. 63 § 945
Current with emergency effective legislation through Chapter 449 of the Second Regular Session of the 59th Legislature (2024). Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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