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Judge Won’t Stop Investigation Of Coroner Amend Could Lose Medical License For Alleged Unprofessional Conduct

A Spokane County judge said Friday he won’t stop a state commission investigation that could cost Coroner Dexter Amend his medical license.

Amend, 77, faces a possible loss of his medical license for “unprofessional conduct” in four death investigations he headed as county coroner.

Superior Court Judge Richard Schroeder denied Amend’s request to halt a review being conducted by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission.

The review is based on allegations that Amend flagrantly abused his duties by asking offensive questions to grieving family members and by wrongly determining causes of death.

Schroeder’s ruling means Amend will have to fight to keep his license at a commission hearing later this month at the Ridpath Hotel.

Also Friday, the wife of a man Amend said committed suicide filed a lawsuit against the coroner and Spokane County.

Carol M. Weltz originally filed a claim with Spokane County asking for $50,000 for emotional distress suffered by her and her family because of Amend’s actions.

The county had 60 days to answer the claim. When it did not, she filed the lawsuit in Superior Court. Now, Weltz and her children are seeking an amount to be determined at trial.

Amend concluded in 1995 that Stephen Weltz killed himself when he died of a drug overdose. Amend later changed the cause of death to accidental overdose.

Weltz’s attorney said Amend also lectured Carol Weltz on morality and drug use and caused her family extreme emotional distress.

Weltz’s civil lawsuit is the fourth filed against Amend. Two other claims filed by people saying Amend misused his office are also pending.

Amend did not appear in court during the morning hearing on his motion to halt the revocation process. His attorney, Terry Lackie, said Amend will attend the Nov. 19 review before the Quality Assurance Commission.

Schroeder refused to accept Amend’s claim that revoking his medical license would violate his constitutional rights as an elected official. A retired urologist, Amend does not need to be a doctor to serve as coroner.

Lackie argued the commission cannot revoke Amend’s license because of his performance as coroner, but only for actions he takes as a physician.

If Amend loses his medical license, that would set a precedent and create problems for elected officials.

That could mean elected officials who are also nurses or architects or others with licenses would face penalties for their actions that non-licensed officials don’t have, Lackie said.

Schroeder didn’t disagree with that argument. But he said his court does not have authority to rule on the constitutional right Amend is claiming.

, DataTimes