To run for county coroner, a person must be a U.S. citizen, at least eighteen years old, and a resident of the county for one year prior to an election. These qualifications are outlined in the state constitution. Based on a 1994 ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, the legislature must have constitutional authority to impose any additional qualifications on the office of county coroner. This proposal allows the legislature to establish qualifications for county coroners, including training and certification requirements. The proposal does not specify the nature or extent of the requirements.
The earliest that any qualifications established by the legislature could apply is the 2006 election. State law requires coroners to determine the cause and manner of death in specific circumstances, including suspicious deaths, unexplained natural deaths, accidents of all types, and suicides. When such a death occurs, coroners must notify the district attorney, take custody of the body, conduct an independent investigation, cause an autopsy to be performed if necessary, and issue a death certificate. In investigating a death, coroners may have to identify the body, collect and document evidence, obtain medical records, perform tests or examinations of the body, notify the next of kin, or conduct an inquest. Coroners may also initiate the process for organ donation in some situations as long as the donation does not interfere with the coroner's investigation.
State law encourages, but does not require, candidates for the office of coroner to possess knowledge and experience in the medical-legal investigation of death. Coroners are also encouraged by state law to participate in programs that provide education and training. Training is available through a variety of local and national resources, including a program to become a certified death investigator through the Colorado Coroners Association.