Court rules doctor may testify in medical examiner’s investigation

A Texas judge has ruled that a doctor who testified in a medical examiner�s investigation of a man who died of natural causes may testify.

In the ruling, Judge Stephen S. Cone wrote that if the man was a victim of homicide, the doctor should testify.

Cote ruled Tuesday that the medical examiner had no duty to disclose the identity of the man who killed himself.

Cone said that in addition to the duty to inform the public, the physician had a duty to preserve the identity and cause of death of the deceased.

The judge said he would issue an opinion on whether the medical examiners office had the right to use the name of the victim or the name and cause or the other names of victims of homicide.

He also wrote that it was not clear whether the physician�s duty to identify the man and cause, or the cause of his death, was required to disclose any of the information about the man that the physician received.

Sara Foy, the medical board president, said the board did not object to the name, cause and death information disclosed in the medical report.

But Foy said the fact that it contained information that had been collected under the state�s open records law did not mean the board was required by law to turn over that information.

She also said the hospital did not have a right to know that information before the medical panel reviewed it.

Lawyers for the man had asked for the name to be disclosed.

They argued that the state medical examiner failed to disclose that the doctor had testified in the investigation.

It was the first time the name had been disclosed, said attorney David H. Hickey, who represented the man�s family.

Foy said that although the board had not requested the name in the first place, the board�s decision to reveal it was made on the recommendation of the medical commission.