First Advisor

Mark Harmon Leymon

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice


Criminology and Criminal Justice




Death -- Causes -- Statistics, Medical examiners (Law), Coroners, Suicide victims -- Statistics, Homicide -- Statistics



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 57 pages)


Mortality statistics are essential to both public health and criminal justice systems. The causes of death that are determined by death investigators influence whether a criminal investigation is opened or not. Prior research suggests a high degree of variability for death investigator requirements across states, which may attribute to inaccurate death reporting. This research provides a 20-year evaluation of the differences in state death investigation laws and their impacts on rates of mortality. This study examines the variation in mortality rates by answering if there is a difference in mortality rates for states requiring medical examiners and states requiring coroners due to the broad range of job qualifications. Specifically, this study evaluates rates of homicide and suicide. The research question was evaluated using a Prais-Winsten regression model with panel-corrected standard errors to analyze if certain death investigators are associated with different mortality rates given characteristics of state laws. The findings of this research suggest medical examiners are not associated with more homicides or fewer suicides than coroners. Implications for future research are suggested within the discussion.


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