Medical examiners work closely with prosecutors on homicides and assaults ["Tight race for DA," News, Oct. 5]. As a medical examiner who has testified in court hundreds of times, I cannot imagine ever working with a prosecutor who lacks trial experience.

The district attorney's office needs a qualified lawyer to administer justice -- not an administrator. The district attorney should be selected by a jury of his or her legal peers and appointed by the county executive.

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Selection of a district attorney should be apolitical, like the process used to appoint a chief medical examiner. Board-certified forensic pathologist candidates are interviewed by a selection committee of physicians and members of law enforcement. Candidates must have years of clinical experience working in government medical laboratories and conducting death investigations and autopsies.

The county executive eventually makes the appointment based on the committee's recommendation.

The selection of lawyers and doctors to important leadership positions in government should not be a popularity contest decided by lay people.

Dr. Mark L. Taff, West Hempstead

Editor's note: The writer is the former chief medical examiner for Rockland County.