A county judge was 60 miles away from the ranch where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last Saturday but with the help of a phone, he decided that Scalia died of natural causes and an autopsy wasn't required.
While the methods were unusual, Texas officials said, they are sometimes necessary for rural areas with vast counties. Presidio county Judge Cinderela Guevara consulted the county sheriff and a U.S. marshal by phone. Then he concluded there was no foul play. After speaking to Scalia's personal doctor later that evening, she decided that he had died of natural causes and no autopsy was necessary.
"I have no issue with how she handled his death," said David Beebe, a justice of the peace in Presidio County, where Scalia died.
Beebe is one of two justices of the peace in the county who are routinely called by authorities to verify a death. Both Beebe and the second justice of the peace were out of town Saturday. Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez, in need of a justice to conduct a death inquest, then called Guevara, who offered to hear the matter.