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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405-521-5774

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For Immediate Release: February 20, 2008

Senator Kenneth Corn
Sen. Kenneth Corn

Sen. Corn Opposes Measure to Consolidate Medical Examiner’s Office

Sen. Kenneth Corn on Wednesday said an effort to consolidate the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) could endanger the state’s ability to convict criminals.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved Senate Bill 1709 to consolidate the two agencies, though Corn said the measure could compromise the integrity of the prosecutorial process.

“If we’re going to consolidate the agency, it would be better for us to spend more time studying the issue and find a better place than OSBI,” said Corn, D-Poteau.  “We need to find a place that preserves the independence of the evidence, rather than having the evidence provided to a jury by the very agency conducting the investigation.”

Corn said that victims deserve an independent report that ensures the state can convict criminals.  If the state does not provide a completely independent report, Corn said, it could give a jury doubts as to the legitimacy of the evidence.

“Having an independent medical examiner come into a courtroom for the prosecution gives reassurance to the jury,” Corn said.  “Jurors are charged with determining whether a reasonable doubt exists in a case, and we shouldn’t plant a seed for that doubt.  Our goal should be to remove criminals from the street, and victims and their families deserve an independent report that guarantees we can get convictions to do just that.”

Sen. Debbe Leftwich, who was an employee of the Medical Examiner’s Office for 16 years prior to her election to the Senate, echoed Corn’s concerns regarding the proposal.

“It is absolutely critical that this agency not be seen as an arm of the OSBI,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma. "We need to preserve the state’s ability to provide independent medical evidence, while guaranteeing that the Medical Examiner’s office has the ability to do its job.”

For more information contact:
Senator Corn's Office:  (405) 521-5576
Senator Leftwich's Office:  (405) 521-5557

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