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Commissioners Court Name Interim Medical Examiner

Last week, El Paso County Commissioners named Dr. Juan Contin the temporary medical examiner of the county following the firing of Dr. Paul Shrode.

And Monday, they named Contin the interim medical examiner after finding no takers for the job.

The vote was 3-to-1 in favor of the 77-year-old Contin, who had issues in a previous stint as chief medical examiner.

County Judge Anthony Cobos, who has been outspoken about the position, was not in attendance on Monday.

Commissioner Dan Haggerty cast the lone vote against Contin.

“I don’t feel Dr. Contin is the answer to our problems, temporary or otherwise,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty said he has his reasons for voting against Contin’s appointment as interim medical examiner on Monday.

“I was here when Dr. Contin was let go … I made the motion to let him go,” Haggerty said. “It’s not so much his ability to navigate around a courtroom, but his management of the ME’s office. It was pretty awful.”

Commissioner Anna Perez, who voted to appoint Contin to the interim position, said Contin will not be in charge of the office.

“He’s only going to do the medical work,” Perez said. “He’s not going to do the administration or the office.”

That said, Perez said she thinks some may still take issue with Contin in the courtroom.

“I hope that the lawyers do their job in the courtroom and autopsies are not picked apart by the media,” Perez said. “But that’s the way we roll now so, I do have some concerns about how it’s going to be.”

Haggerty said he’d like to explore a system that’s used in many counties in Texas – appointing justices of the peace as medical examiners.

And if an autopsy is required, they send the body elsewhere. That saves money by not having a permanent medical examiner.

“They’re telling me to get a good ME it’s going to cost us as much as three, four, Lubbock county pays 500,000 for a medical examiner,” Haggerty said.

Perez said it’s worth the money to not have to go the justice of the peace route.

“The J-P system would have put the decision whether to make or do an autopsy in a layman’s hands,” Perez said.

In the end, Haggerty said Contin will have to do for now.

“They tell me he does a great job on autopsies,” Haggerty said. “I have not experienced that with him yet … But i’m sure he’d be happy to accommodate me.”

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