County Officials React to Medical Examiner Controversy
Sep 8, 2011 at 10:18 PM CST
Sep 12, 2011
We first brought you the news that Webb County medical examiner Corinne Stern had not taken her state oath of office as some say is required by the State constitution. It could affect hundreds, perhaps even thousands of cases overseen by Stern. Ultimately County officials would have to make sure she takes the oath. Something some say should have been done from day one on the job. "Until such time as she has taken the oath with the appointment as medical examiner, then everything she did prior to that is void." That was County Attorney Anna Laura Cavazos yesterday after hearing from a State constitutional expert and doing some research of her own into whether or not Webb County medical examiner Corrine Stern needed to take an oath of office in order to carry out her duties as a forensic expert. "It doesn't change the result. It only changes her authority to give the conclusions that she did as result as an examination." "It is my understanding that she took the oath today." He also adds that different counties require the oath to be taken and that not all do. "But to be on the safe side, she did take an oath today so that cures whatever issues are out there." However, we found under the Texas constitution that it states something different. In article sixteen, it states elected and appointed officers are required to sign an "anti-bribery statement" before taking the constitutional oath or affirmation of office. The argument being made from the County is "These are not appointed positions. These are employees of the County. We'll make sure she has the right credentials." Under State law all medica examiners are appointed positions by commissioner courts. Canales says he actually spoke to the medical examiner Corinne Stern yesterday about this issue and she didn't know anything having to sign an oath. "She just told me that she was never told that she had to sign an oath." "Yesterday we talked to the county attorney who said she should have taken her oath when she was hired and now you're saying she doesn't need it." "Well if she says that she has to have it, I need to see some proof, some statute that says she does." Webb County medical examiner Corrine Stern has been silent on the issue. We've tried to contact her on several occasions including going to her office today. If the County Judge and Commissioners are right, she now joins the ranks of a half dozen medical examiners including the one in Lubbock county doing their oaths of office in the past months. Tomorrow we have more on that story and how this could affect literally hundreds of local cases including the upcoming high profile Katherine Cardenas case in court. District Attorney Chilo Alaniz has yet to comment on the situation.