PHL 7-1-1 (AEO), Conducting Inquests in King County
Effective Date: March 16, 2010
1.0 SUBJECT TITLE: Conducting Inquests in King County
2.1 To establish policies and procedures for conducting inquests into the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while in the performance of his or her duties and in other exceptional cases as determined by the County Executive.
3.0 ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED:
King County Executive; King County Prosecuting Attorney; King County District Court Judges; King County District Courts; King County Superior Court; King County Superior Court Judges; Medical Examiner's Office, King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention and the King County Sheriff.
4.1 RCW 36.24 Counties: County Coroner
4.2 King County Charter, Section 320.20 - The Executive Branch: Powers and Duties
4.3 King County Charter, Section 895- General Provisions: Mandatory Inquests
4.4 King County Code 2.24.110(A)
5.1 "King County Executive" or "County Executive" means the official, or the designee of the official, who is elected and serves as the County Executive of King County pursuant to Article 3 of the King County Charter.
5.2 "King County Prosecuting Attorney" means the official, or the designee of the official, who is elected and serves as Prosecuting Attorney for King County pursuant to Article XI, Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution.
5.3 "Inquest" means an inquiry into the identity of the decedent, as well as when, where and by what means the decedent came to meet death, and the circumstances attending the death of the decedent.
5.4 "Law enforcement agency" means any agency having police powers as authorized under Washington State law. For the purposes of this policy, "a member of any law enforcement agency" shall mean commissioned officers and non-commissioned staff of all local and state police forces, jails and corrections agencies.
5.5 "Attorney representing the family of the deceased" means a privately-retained or pro-bono attorney. Washington law does not require the appointment of a publicly funded attorney to represent indigent individuals at an inquest
5.6 "Rules of Evidence" means the evidentiary court rules adopted by the Supreme Court of the State of Washington governing proceedings in the courts of the State of Washington.
5.7 "Voir dire" means an examination of a prospective juror.
5.8 "In camera review" means an examination of materials by the Judge in the privacy of chambers.
6.1 There shall be an inquest into the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while in the performance of his or her duties. While the term "involving" is to be construed broadly, there may be circumstances where law enforcement's role is so minimal as to not warrant an inquest. Factors to be considered include: whether a decision to prosecute has been made; whether the death was the result of a condition existing prior to and/or apart from the police involvement; whether the deceased was in custody at the time of the death; whether the family of deceased desire an inquest; and any other factor that touches on the connection between the manner of death and the actions of law enforcement; however, ordinarily there shall be an inquest in all cases where death involves the use of force by a member of any law enforcement agency.
6.2 At the discretion of the County Executive, in exceptional circumstances there may be an inquest into the causes and circumstances of a death involving an individual in King County other than a member of a law enforcement agency.
7.1 The King County Prosecuting Attorney shall inform the King County Executive whenever an investigation into a death involving a member of any law enforcement agency in King County is complete and shall also advise whether an inquest is required pursuant to these policies.
7.2 The County Executive shall determine whether or not an inquest shall be held. If an inquest is to be held, the County Executive shall request that the King County Superior Court or the King County District Court conduct the inquest on the Executive's behalf. If the King County Superior Court or the King County District Court accepts the responsibility, the inquest shall be conducted pursuant to this Executive Order and to R.C.W. 36.24, as amended.
Action By: Prosecuting Attorney
8.1 Receives information and documentation that a death has occurred that may require an inquest.
8.2 Reviews the information and documentation and makes a written recommendation to the County Executive as to whether the facts require that an inquest be held, and, if so, provides a copy to the King County Superior Court and/or the King County District Court presiding judge.
8.2.1 Forwards information and documentation to the County Executive if so requested by the Executive.
Action by: County Executive
8.3 Upon receiving Prosecuting Attorney's recommendation, determines whether to hold an inquest.
8.4 If an inquest is to be held, then the County Executive may request that either the King County Superior Court or the King County District Court conduct the inquest on the Executive's behalf according to the Procedures in Appendix 9.1.
8.4.1 Requests the Presiding Judge of King County Superior Court, in conjunction with other judges, to furnish a judge to conduct the inquest; or
8.4.2 Requests the Presiding Judge of King County District Court, in conjunction with other judges, to furnish a judge to conduct the inquest.
Action by: King County Superior Court/District Court
8.5 If the Superior Court accepts the responsibility for conducting the inquest, the Court schedules a date for the inquest to begin and conducts the inquest according to the procedures in Appendix 9.1.
8.6 If the District Court accepts the responsibility for conducting the inquest, the Court schedules a date for the inquest to begin and conducts the inquest according to the procedures in Appendix 9.1.
9.1 Procedures for Conducting Inquests
10.0 PRIOR ORDERS:
10.1 This Executive Order rescinds and replaces PHL 7-1 (AEO), "Conducting Inquests in King County" dated April 29, 2002.