The Society of Medicolegal Death Investigators is a professional association that has been created exclusively for medicolegal death investigators (MLDI) who conduct investigations to assist in the determination of an individual's cause and manner of death in violent, suspicious, sudden and/or unexpected deaths. Eligible for membership are investigators employed by medicolegal jurisdictions. Also eligible are current certificants in good standing with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.

In 2006, several veteran medicolegal death investigators met in San Antonio, TX at the National Association of Medical Examiners annual meeting. At that time, Chris Boden, a MLDI from Florida, envisioned a professional organization for medicolegal death investigators. He shared that idea with Julie Howe and Mary Fran Ernst of St. Louis, Steve Nunez of Albuquerque and Roberta Geiselhart of Minneapolis. Over the past five (5) years, slow but steady progress has been made to create this organization. In 2007, Chris Boden purchased the somdi.org domain name and Mary Fran Ernst had the acronym trademarked. At the time, the ABMDI leadership was informed of this project and gave its support to the concept. In the years that followed, presentations regarding this organization were made at meetings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the National Association of Medical Examiners.

In February 2009, the National Academies of Science (NAS) report Strengthening Forensic Sciences in the United States: A Path Forward was released. This report revealed the weaknesses in the United States forensic science disciplines including that 'individual professional certification should be mandatory and that no person (public or private) should be allowed to practice in the forensic sciences or testify as a forensic science professional without certification'. It noted that 'competent death investigation requires that trained medicolegal death investigators attend scenes' and that 'in the future more lay death investigators will need to be trained and new training programs developed to assure competency'.

In 2010, SOMDI was incorporated in Missouri as a 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation. Bylaws have been written and the start-up leadership appointments have been made.

The American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI), the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board-accredited professional certification organization for medicolegal death investigators, supports the creation of this organization. SOMDI has reached out to the leadership of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI), the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (IACME) to forge partnerships and foster collaborative projects to enhance each of the organizations.

What would you gain from joining SOMDI?

  • You will gain access to state of the art, practical medicolegal death investigator training and educational opportunities via courses, meetings and distance learning programs designed to deal specifically with topics that are frequently encountered by MLDIs
  • If you are not already ABMDI-certified, the training and education provided by SOMDI will assist you in achieving that certification. If already ABMDI-certified, you may acquire continuing education credits for your recertification
  • Membership would provide you with the opportunity to assist in the development of MLDI practice standards and input to the current national guidelines
  • A SOMDI listserve communication system will be developed so that you will have access to share ideas, ask questions, discuss issues affecting MLDIs, assist others by providing them with your experiences and provide you with information regarding current job openings in our field
  • By joining, you may become an active participant in this new movement to further improve death investigator capability and upgrade our professional status
  • SOMDI will become an influential MLDI advocate to local, state and federal agencies for professional training, educational and certification funding. SOMDI will not function as a collective bargaining unit
  • SOMDI will afford you the opportunity to play an integral part in the first professional organization designed to include all medicolegal death investigators in Coroner and Medical Examiner systems

SOMDI began operations in March 2011 and is based in St. Louis, MO. It has been created by highly experienced, veteran medicolegal death investigators who recognize the need for medicolegal death investigators to establish an organization tasked to train, educate, represent, monitor and advocate for our profession.


Application Process

Article of Incorporation