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Commissioners still looking for chief medical examiner

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Jan 14 2014 07:26:56 PM CST
El Paso, TEXAS -

In 2010, El Paso County Commissioners voted to fire Paul Shrode.

Since that time, no one has held a permanent chief medical examiner position with the county. Juan Contin, a former chief medical examiner who was fired by El Paso County once before, held the job contractually before being given an "interim" tag.

After years of waiting, the county finally made a move to fill the position. However, that position won't be for the chief medical examiner, but a deputy medical examiner.

Originally the court wanted to hire a chief that would eventually hire his or her own staff.

After two years of waiting, they've allowed Contin to make moves to hire a deputy medical examiner.

A shortage of medical examiners has made it difficult for areas like El Paso to hire someone, according to County Judge Veronica Escobar. Now, the county is doing everything it can to find a viable candidate. Many of the people who've applied simply haven't met Escobar, and the court's, standards.

"They have what I call baggage, what we call baggage, they've testified in a trial and been ripped apart by a defense attorney or something comes up...an error that they've made,” said Escobar. “So, what we want to do is be really careful about that."

On Monday, commissioners decided to pay for a waiver of a prospective deputy medical examiner for the candidate's visa. The candidate is currently working in New Mexico, and is said to come highly recommended but has a visa that requires him to return to Mexico (his home country) for two years. A waiver would allow the county to bring him in sooner, and perhaps move him to a chief position if he hits the ground running.

“Dr. Contin has found the ideal candidate,” said Escobar.

Escobar told ABC-7 she believed if the candidate were prepared to take over the chief medical examiner job, it would take one or two years. Before that happens the search will continue.

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