The county legislative body has discretionary authority to create the county coroner's office. If the office is created, the legislative body appoints a coroner for a two-year term. T.C.A. § 8-9-101. The coroner must take an oath of office and enter into a $2,500 surety bond. T.C.A. §§ 8-9-103, 8-9-104.
The coroner may hold an inquest upon receiving an affidavit signed by two or more reliable persons stating that a death has occurred and that there is good reason to believe that the death was due to unlawful violence. T.C.A. § 38-5-101 et seq. Courts of general sessions also have the power to hold an inquest upon receiving the proper affidavit. T.C.A. § 38-5-103. The coroner may also serve certain process when the sheriff is an interested party, and must make reports of any traffic-related deaths as required by the Department of Safety. T.C.A. §§ 8-9-106, 55-10-112.
As noted above, the county legislative body may abolish the office of coroner and assign the duties of the coroner to the county medical examiner. T.C.A. § 8-9-101.