How to Find a Qualified Forensic Pathology Expert

by Judy Melinek, M.D. As a forensic pathologist, I’m often asked by attorneys how they can find a qualified expert in my field. Here are the questions I tell them they should ask: 1. Is the pathologist certified by the American Board of Pathology? DEEPER INSIGHTS This is the most important qualification for an expert witness in the field of pathology. Just because a consultant claims to be “board-certified” does not mean he or she really is. The American Board of Pathology is the only board recognized by the American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) as offering certification in

Read More »

7 Common Mistakes Regarding Autopsy Reports

by Dr. Judy Melinek When a breaking news case involves a sudden, unnatural or violent death, journalists will often get a copy of the autopsy report. Autopsy reports can be daunting to read if you have not been trained in medicine. Because of this, reports in the media can be confusing or misleading to the public. Here, then, are some definitions and guidelines for anyone reading or writing about death investigations, and especially members of the media, should hopefully find useful. Remember that forensics is complicated, and sound bites are few. Always keep in mind that you are exploring a

Read More »

7 Steps to a More Informative Interview: The Cognitive Interview Process

Kenneth R. Lang, M.S. In February’s issue of Death Investigator Magazine, we explored the importance of the cognitive interview and how this methodology can help to improve the quality of interviews in criminal investigations. As eluded to, there are seven specific steps to complete a cognitive interview effectively. The cognitive interview is not just for victims and witnesses, but detectives can also use it when interrogating suspects. Regardless of whom you employ it with, it is essential that the investigator follow the sequential order of the process to enjoy the benefits of more detailed interviews. First, begin your interview with

Read More »

A Time Recorded in History

By: Darren Dake How straight forward is a time of death decision? Determining time of death is both an art and a science and requires the C/ME (Coroner or Medical Examiner) to use several techniques and observations to make an accurate estimate. As a general rule, the sooner after death the body is examined, the more accurate this estimate will be. However, times of death are a legal and sometimes ethical decision that will have long lasting implications. It used to be that a time of death was simply a time the coroner pronounced, arrived on the scene, or used

Read More »

Funerals Have become a Luxury and Many Governments are Paying the Price

By:  Liz Farmer | Mattie Quinn  Jimmy Pollard knew his state had a serious problem surrounding death. As the coroner for Henry County and a consultant for the Kentucky Coroners Association, Pollard had seen lots of instances in which family members couldn’t afford to bury or cremate a loved one. But the problem of “funeral poverty” was getting worse. Pollard realized just how bad things had gotten when, a few years ago, the county judge approached him and said, “I’m out of money for indigent burials this year, and I’ve got six months left to go.” Despite pleas from the

Read More »

10 Ways to Break the Grip of Compassion Fatigue aka/Secondary Traumatic Stress Syndrome

While writing my book, Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over, I discovered the impact Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder, a/k/a STS or Compassion Fatigue, has on many across the globe. But I had no idea that its stealthy grip affected so many working in death investigation, emergency services, and law enforcement. If this describes you, I can assure you, there’s no need to feel alone—you are not the only one who is struggling. Whether you are currently affected by this insidious issue or not, the following tips can help you live a happier, more balanced, healthier life. Sometimes, all you

Read More »