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L.A. County coroner's office roiled by leaks in Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson cases

The L.A. County coroner's office is under scrutiny again after confidential information about a celebrity's death was leaked.

The latest case involves the sudden death on Sunday of "Clueless" star Brittany Murphy. TMZ.com has published details about prescription drugs that the coroner's office found in her home.

Coroner's officials said that they don't know how the information was leaked to TMZ, but that they were angry about it and vowed to investigate.

"The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner is aware of the information that has appeared in the news today regarding its inquiry into the cause and manner of death of Ms. Murphy,'' the office said in a statement. "The inquiry into the death is ongoing, and it is the policy and practice of the Department of Coroner to only release detailed information in cases where the final cause of death has been determined and the case investigation has been completed and closed by the deputy medical examiner."

This is the second time in less than a year in which the coroner's office has dealt with a high-profile leak.

This summer, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators looked into whether coroner’s employees illegally leaked or sold private information from Michael Jackson’s death investigation.

After interviewing coroner’s staff members and consulting with the district attorney’s office, investigators from the sheriff’s internal criminal investigations bureau determined that no criminal violations occurred.

County supervisors called for the Jackson inquiry July 25 after The Times reported that the pop star’s death certificate had been viewed more than 300 times, including by half a dozen coroner’s employees not involved in the investigation.

Officials said employees who inappropriately viewed Jackson’s records were warned -- the proper discipline, according to county civil services rules.

-- Shelby Grad

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Comments () | Archives (35)

When hasn't that happened in L.A.?

legalize it!

legalize it!

legalize it

The Times is reporting on how terrible the leaks are. In other news, the fox complains about poor henhouse security.

When the bosses start handing out 30 day suspensions, the leaks will end. But since they are in on the deal, that will never happen.

These government run agencies knows just who is leaking confidential information. It's all in the name of money. TMZ, the National Enquirer, Star, all of these lowlife media slums have no shame in defaming anyone, period. Especially if it's someone the public adores or someone with a name. I would hate to be in their shoes when they croak and have to stand before God and give an account of the asinine spectacles they pulled while here. Suckers!

My question is this: If information is confidential, how is it that TMZ can publish it? There is a reason this information is kept secret, so just because someone has leaked it, doesn't mean it should be published. Levin is a lawyer, he knows all about confidentiality, it's no wonder he hasn't been disbarred yet.

Obviously, the penalties for violating protocol need to be much stiffer. A little slap on the wrist is not enough. And organizations like TMZ who pay for this information also need to pay a price for breaking the law and violating the privacy of celebrities by illegally obtaining private information about them. It needs to stop and they all need to be held accountable.

This was a very sad loss at such a young age. Maybe instead of pointing fingers and taking focus away from her beautiful life, we could help people stay educated. This blog I read Killer Among us is pretty good... short, helpful and to the point. www.itriagehealth.com/health-blog/killer-among-us:-heart-disease-and-women

Folks this is not rocket science, for sure. Review your policies,investigate the leaks and fire those who leaked the information. What a deterrent. We are dealing with adults and how they break the rules and laws.
Stop making excuses!!!
What are we paying you for??? Maybe we should fire the supervisors and managers of the offenders??? Now, that makes senses.

Yes, everything is for sale in L.A. - even your soul.

Hey. It's the holidays everybody's looking to get paid. And TMZ wants hits so I am sure they through down the dollars.

This article makes it sound like there is a chronic problem at the coroner's office, however there were no violation found in the previous Michael Jackson case. The reporting at that time was quite accusatory of the coroner's office before all the facts were known. Why pick on the coroner's office? It seems to me that this office has done a remarkable job working in the media frenzy world of TMZ and newspapers who use TMZ as a primary source.

i hope that whoever leaks such information is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.Unfortunately our legal system SUCKS. as for tmz what a joke.

Is this seriously news worthy? from the outside world anything in L.A. has a price...especially news info. The L.A. coroner's office is logical extension the general breakdown of all morals/ethics of all that is bad in L.A.

TMZ should release the name of the individuals they paid for that information, and they should be held accountable as well!

Looks like the Board of Supervisors ought to get rid of the current coroner.

The Coroner could probably short-circuit some of these leaks by setting up a full-time media relations office and proactively feed appropriate info to the media. The LA Coroner operates in a unique media environment and it is perhaps naive for them to ignore this fact.

The ilks defending TMZ with the classic line - "Well if people didn't watch the show, it'll go away" to defend the unethical practice of dangling $ to get info that may be extremely private and unsavory in times such as someone's tragic DEATH, is equivalent to defending actions of a drug cartel by vehemently disavowing any responsibility and blaming only the "drug buying public".

it is very apparent that the leaked information means lot of money in many people's pockets. First the insider who is leaking data is getting something back. Any bit of news on celebrity means huge traffic to TMZ site which sells this to many other companies in the process and interviews,etc..which results in more advertising revenue. First of all , people who work at the coronoer's office should be penalized hefty amount if they are not supposed to look at any of these info. The only people who are working on this investigation should be allowed to look at any of the details. There has to be detail audit if a person has looked at the details many times and if they printed it..etc.. LA has become a freak show because of Hollywood celebrities. Officials in charge have to adopt strict actions to stop this nonsense of leaked info,

My son died on Nov 5, 2009. I have called the coroner's office for the autopsy results a couple of times and was told it would take until the END OF JANUARY to get the results because of cutbacks and back logs.

How is it that Ms. Murphy's results were processed in 48 hours or less? I have empathy for the pain of her family, but it is not more than mine, and my son's death no less important.

"After interviewing coroner’s staff members and consulting with the district attorney’s office, investigators from the sheriff’s internal criminal investigations bureau determined that no criminal violations occurred.

"Officials said employees who inappropriately viewed Jackson’s records were warned -- the proper discipline, according to county civil services rules."

True, no 'criminal violations' occurred. The violations were within behavior permitted by county (and state) civil services rules. For all but government employees, Kalifornia is an 'at will' state, meaning that everyone but government employees can be terminated at any time for anything. Government employees must do something particularly bad to get terminated.

Solution: make all government positions 'at will' positions. If the 'officials' won't terminate the employees, they get terminated as well. And, instead of guaranteed salary and benefits, those employees will be hustling to get paid for work done.

Maybe they should check their computer and network systems rather than searching for a person.

they should just legalize it and make the money to even out budgets otherwise the gang and drug dealers will continue to profit it might as well be the states making the money

Leaks from the coroner’s office with a break down in leadership, what a surprise. In truth, what did people expect to happen?

Today we have government run organizations that have irresponsibly spent decades, perfecting the disruptive practice of hiring politically correct affirmative action candidates, with essentially zero meaningful knowledge, experience or formal educational development in leadership beyond some whimsical course from one of the many pretentious local universities in a feeble effort to develop the unique time immersed skill sets of leadership, selected by individuals equally lacking in qualification.

But, then again, our pathetic public school administrators no longer have an appreciation for or offer classes in leadership. A discipline our society no longer comprehends how to wield or have the maturity to accept and embrace in its highest form. Instead we offer students classes on women or black studies. A subject that statically doesn’t qualify a student for much of anything meaningful in life, and something for the last 2 million years was taken simply as the subject matter of living life. Leaving, the study of leadership, relegated to a superficial American art form that one can supposedly obtain via osmosis and good looks.

Leadership starts from the top, and our country has not had a competent leader at the top for many decades, and that inability to select a quality leader by our voter base has filtered down over the last several decades to the local level (coroner’s office) via the many self promoting children of the spoil rotten and selfish hippy generation of the 60’s and has permeated into all that is important to our society, and at the core of most all of our social problems.

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