Q May a county contract with its elected Coroner to transport bodies in his private vehicle to and from autopsies or to private funeral homes for storage, and may the county pay the elected Coroner mileage in cases of pauperís bodies being taken to funeral homes for storage?

A When an autopsy is necessary, the county is responsible for the expenses of transporting the body. Section 41-61-61(4) authorizes the county to either contract with a funeral home to provide transportation or to make a vehicle available to the coroner. When a county vehicle is not available, the coroner may use his or her private vehicle. The board of supervisors has the duty to transport and store the body until family members make the necessary arrangements. Under the ďhome ruleĒ statute (Section 19-3-41), the supervisors may contract with a funeral home for these services. Any expenses incurred by the county would, ultimately, be the responsibility of the decedentís estate. Currently, no statute exists authorizing a county coroner to contract with the county for the transportation of a body when no autopsy is ordered. To provide additional service, by way of a contract, is outside of the official duties of an elected county coroner. Any extra contract may be violative of the Ethics statutes, and prior to entering into the contract counties should consult the Mississippi Ethics Commission. According to Section 41-61-75(1)(b) the county may pay the examinerís actual expenses. This would include mileage incurred by the county coroner during the transportation of a dead body in his or her private vehicle in cases requiring autopsies. (Attorney Generalís Opinion to White, March 4, 2016)