Texas judge reveals new details leading to ‘no autopsy’ decision on Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wasn’t the picture of health that he appeared to be.

The Texas judge, who ruled over the weekend that an autopsy would be unnecessary on the remains of  Scalia, has revealed additional details about the justice’s health.

On the day Scalia was found dead at a remote Texas ranch, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara learned from his physician that the justice had a history of high blood pressure, heart trouble, and was considered too weak to undergo surgery for a shoulder injury, according to The Associated Press.

Guevara indicated that this information, coupled with reports she’d received from local and federal investigators, led to her decision that an autopsy wouldn’t be necessary.

The AP reported:

Scalia’s death was a shock to those at the Cibolo Creek Ranch where he died, as well as to the rest of the nation. The owner of the ranch near Marfa, about 190 miles southeast of El Paso, said Scalia seemed normal at dinner the night before he was found “in complete repose” in his room.

John Poindexter told reporters Scalia had arrived Friday and was part of a group of about 35 weekend guests. Scalia retired around 9 p.m., saying he wanted a long night’s sleep, according to Poindexter.

Chris Lujan, a manager for Sunset Funeral Homes in El Paso, Texas, said Scalia’s body was taken from the facility late Sunday afternoon and was to be flown to Virginia


Guevara indicated that Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan, who serves as the attending physician for Supreme Court justices, told her that Scalia kept doctor’s appointments on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to his death.

At that time he had an MRI on his shoulder, which indicated surgery would normally be recommended, but Scalia wasn’t strong enough for the procedure. Guevara said that Monahan told her that before surgery could be performed, rehabilitation was recommended.

Guevara also indicated that both Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez and U.S. Marshal Ken Roberts told her they saw no evidence of foul play, and that Scalia indicated to the group on the night before his death that he wasn’t feeling well and had turned in early.

The AP reported:

State law allows an inquest to be performed by phone. Guevara said she followed the procedure because both justices of the peace serving the region were out of town and she was also about 65 miles away from the resort.

Guevara certified Scalia’s death by telephone about 1:52 p.m. Saturday. She had previously conducted two other death inquests by phone.


Scalia apparently kept his heart ailments to himself. Bryan Garner, a friend and co-author of two of the justice’s books, indicated that when he traveled with Scalia to Hong Kong and Singapore earlier in the year, he never mentioned anything about heart problems and seemed upbeat the entire time.

“He did seem strong as ever,” Garner said, according to The AP. “He was a very strong man physically.”


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