An inquest will not be held until all investigations and legal matters have been concluded. This may include completion of the final autopsy report, finalization of criminal charges, occupational health and safety investigation, and independent police investigation. This may take several years. Typically, inquests are held within 24 to 36 months of the death. It is important for these legal investigations and matters to be concluded before an inquest so that the outcome of those processes are not jeopardized and so the information coming out of them may be considered as part of the inquest.
Once all matters have been concluded and the Chief Coroner determines that an inquest will be held, the process of organizing the inquest begins. Some of the steps in this process include:
- Assigning an Inquest Coroner to preside at the inquest as well as Coroner’s Counsel who assists the Inquest Coroner;
- Choosing a venue for the inquest. Inquests are always conducted in a location nearest to the place of death in order to provide the best access to the appropriate community members to attend the inquest. Inquests are held in a variety of facilities including court rooms, or in town halls or community centers;
- Choosing a date for the inquest. Inquests, typically, are held over a 5 to 15 day period depending on the case;
- Arranging for a court reporter and sheriff to attend the inquest;
- Summoning individuals who may be selected as jury members for the inquest;
- Coordinating the attendance of the family representative and their support person, persons with standing, and witnesses.