The Resident Magistrate for a parish is ex officio the Coroner for that parish.
The Coroners Act provides that where it appears to the Coroner that there is reason to suspect that:
(a) a deceased has come to his death by murder, manslaughter or
(b) that the death occurred in circumstances which, if continued,
would be prejudicial to public health or safety,
the Coroner shall summon a jury to determine how, when and where the deceased came by his or her death, and whether anyone should be charged with murder or manslaughter. If the jury finds that someone is to be charged, the Coroner issues a warrant for the arrest of such person who is then brought before the next sitting of the Circuit Court for that parish.
However, where the Resident Magistrate is sitting as a Resident Magistrate and conducting a preliminary examination in a charge of murder or manslaughter, no jury is required at that stage, and the Resident Magistrate (sitting alone) commits straight to the Circuit Court, if satisfied that a prima facie case has been made out.
So, the question arises: why is a jury stipulated for a Coroner’s Court in these cases? Why can’t the Coroner sit alone at all times and do the same thing that he or she does when sitting as Resident Magistrate, that is, commit to the Circuit Court? After all, there is the constant complaint that inquests are not being held quickly enough due to problems with jurors.