Jon Azpiri reports:
Authorities have denied Hustler Magazine’s request for access to Meredith Emerson crime scene photos. The adult magazine wanted access to photos of a decaptitated, nude Meredith Emerson, the young woman who was murdered by Gary Michael Hilton while hiking in Georgia.
On February 25, Hustler reporter Fred Rosen asked for the Meredith Emerson photos as part of an open records request filed with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The GBI denied the request, saying that the Georgia Open Records Act prevents such photos from being released.
House Speaker David Ralston added that the state legislature has long banned the release of autopsy photos, but there is a small loophole regarding crime scene photos. Ralston says the House plans to create the Meredith Emerson Privacy Act to prevent requests for crime scene photos through public disclosure laws.
Fred Rosen, a true-crime writer, says he wanted to see photos and transcripts as a way to better understand the Meredith Emerson case.
Read more on Now Public.
If all autopsy, crime-scene, and accident photos were to be exempt from public records laws, how could watchdog groups investigate allegations of police abuse? Was it just morbid curiosity on the public’s part to want to see the JFK autopsy records, or was there valid reasons to make them available at the time? As much as I am a privacy advocate, we all need to think long and hard about other consequences of protecting privacy when it may lead to more secrecy by the government or be used to cover up that which the public needs to know and wants to know in matters of public concern.
Updated 3-11-10: Dan Solove has blogged about this case, here, but he doesn’t offer his own opinion on whether the proposed law would be a good thing or not.