67 Op. Att'y Gen. 250 (1978)
67 OAG 250  251


Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

17 October 1978

Open Meeting;
Tape Recordings;

The open meeting law does not apply to a
coroner's inquest.

ED HINSHAW, Media Coordinator
4th Judicial District

You ask my opinion on two questions.

First, does the open meeting law,
Subchapter IV, Chapter 19, Stats.,
apply to coroner's inquests?

Second, if a coroner's inquest is an open
meeting, may the broadcast media cover the
inquest using camera and recording equipment?

The coroner is a county officer provided for
in Wisconsin Constitution Article VI,
Section 4.

The office of coroner is not a "governmental
body" as defined by Section 19.82(1), Stats.

Therefore. the open meeting law does not
apply to the office of coroner or to
inquests taken by the coroner.

Moreover, a coroner's inquest is not covered
by the Wisconsin Supreme Court's recent
authorization of television and radio
coverage in judicial proceedings.

Although an inquest is a quasi-judicial

Mohrhusen v. McCann,
62 Wis.2d 509, 512,
215 N.W.2d 560 (1974),

the coroner is not a judicial officer, and
the court's authorization is explicitly
confined to proceedings in courtrooms.

See In re Code of Ethics 83 Wis.2d XIX.

It follows that a coroner's inquest is not
required to be open under current law and
that there is no duty on the part of a
coroner to permit radio and television news
coverage by electronic or other means.

The decision whether to close an inquest
rests in the sound discretion of the coroner.


67 OAG 250  251