Apply as a Transfer/Demotion applicant

$98.46-$131.94 hourly / $17,066.00-$22,869.00 monthly / $204,796.80-$274,435.20 yearly


Under general direction, to perform autopsies and other professional work in forensic pathology to determine cause and time of death; to act as a professional consultant and provide expert witness services; and to do other work as required.

Distinguishing Characteristics

This is a single-position class in the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office and is responsible for directing and coordinating the forensic pathology activities. This class is distinguished from other Physician classes in that it requires specific training; experience and board certification in the specialty of forensic pathology, as well as the performance of duties associated with the medico-legal investigation of death or injuries.

Typical Tasks

  • Establishes standards for conducting autopsies and maintaining chain of custody; 
  • Performs forensic autopsies and external examination of bodies; evaluates historical and law-enforcement investigative information in order to establish cause and time of death and whether death was due to natural causes, accident, suicide, homicide, or is undetermined; 
  • Collects medical evidence such as trace evidence and secretions; performs chemical and/or microscopic examinations of tissues and fluids; and submits samples of body fluids, tissues and other findings to laboratories for toxicology and clinical laboratory examination when analysis may be required; 
  • Performs forensic scene investigations; directs crime scene investigators for evidence collection; directs and ensures the preservation of legal, physical, and medical evidence, ensuring that the chain of custody is maintained; and performs scene reconstruction; 
  • Dictates medical findings and prepares case reports on observations and interpretations; confers with judicial, law enforcement and medical personnel and assists in interpreting autopsy findings for the purpose of reconstructing events leading to the determination of causes and manner of death ; 
  • Develops, plans and prepares standardized procedures and protocols; 
  • Testifies in court and legal proceedings; 
  • Provides forensic pathology services in emergencies that include natural disasters, major incidents and civil disorder. 
  • Provides training in forensic evidence collection and death investigation to law enforcement personnel; 
  • Provides technical direction to the Coroner Forensic Technician; 
  • Oversees the work of contract forensic pathologists as necessary; 
  • Provides advisory and consultative services to Sheriff’s Office personnel, law enforcement agencies, District Attorney and various governmental bodies and to Public Health Service professionals.

Employment Standards

  • Knowledge:

Thorough knowledge of:

  • Principles and practices of modern medicine and autopsy techniques;
  • Current and highly specialized techniques, investigative procedures and equipment utilized in forensic pathology, including applicability of toxicology, ballistics/firearm examination, trace evidence, forensic serology, forensic anthropology, DNA technology and interpretation of histology and clinical chemistry necessary to determine the circumstances, cause, manner, and time of death.
  • Forensic evidence collection techniques and procedures.
  • Rules and regulations applicable to court testimony.
  • Statutes, ordinances, regulations and medico-legal issues related to the Coroner Medical Examiner and death investigation
  • Current safety practices and issues pertinent to Public Health.

Ability to:

  • Perform pathological medico-legal examinations, investigations, and autopsies;
  • Review and evaluate complex investigations, autopsy reports, evidence discovered at death scenes and other specific findings to establish the cause of death;
  • Keep informed of current techniques, procedures and equipment in forensic pathology;
  • Prepare and maintain accurate, comprehensive and concise records and reports;
  • Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing;
  • Testify clearly and concisely in court trials, inquests, and legal proceedings;
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with those encountered in the course of work;
  • Provide technical direction to subordinate staff;
  • Oversee the work of contract forensic pathologists;
  • Work while standing for long periods;
  • Incumbents must be able to move bodies of decedents for inspection, analysis and autopsy; operate and move laboratory tables carrying decedents; pushing, pulling, and lifting decedents with appropriate equipment and assistance as necessary.
  • Possess sufficient manual dexterity to manipulate and operate laboratory equipment. 
  • Work closely in cooperation with crime scene investigators and detectives.

Training and Experience: Any combination of training and experience that would provide the required knowledge and abilities is qualifying. A typical way to obtain the knowledge and abilities would be: 

  • Four years of experience working as a licensed physician in the field of Forensic Pathology.

Special Requirements: 

  • Possession and maintenance of a valid Physician and Surgeon’s License issued by the State of California. 
  • Possession and maintenance of a valid certificate in anatomic and forensic pathology issued by the American Board of Pathology.
  • Possession and maintenance of a valid California Class C Driver License or the incumbent must provide suitable transportation approved by the appointing authority.

Background Investigation: 

  • Successfully pass a complete background investigation.

Special Working Conditions:

  • Work in bio-hazard environment, subject to fumes, odors, blood and other bodily fluids, and communicable diseases. Willingness to work flexible hours, which may include weekends, holidays and shift work.
  • Mentally and physically capable of performing the classification’s essential functions as summarized in the typical tasks section of this job specification.


Previous Class Title: None

Bargaining Unit: 08

EEOC: 02

Occupational Group: 61

Worker’s Compensation Code: 0290

CLASS: PT9; REV: 8/1/2012;