A Florida judge on 3 July 2001 upheld a state law restricting public acess to autopsy photos, The Associated Press reported in a story on the Editor & Publisher web site.
The effort by several Florida newspapers and a television station to have the March 2001 law overturned came after the death of auto racer Dale Earnhardt during the Daytona 500.
“The right to privacy, the right to freedom of press and speech, the right of the people to have access to public records, and the right to be left alone are important rights to all who live in this county,” wrote Circuit Judge Leroy Moe, according to the AP.
The Orlando Sentinel wanted an independent safety expert to review the photos to determine whether better safety equipment could have prevented the death, but the family’s outrage prompted the state Legislature to make unauthorized access to the photos a felony.
Sentinel attorney David Bralow said the newspaper will appeal the decision.