The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the issue of privacy and crime-scene photos:
Using the Georgia Open Records Act, a Hustler magazine writer recently requested crime-scene photos of Meredith Emerson, the Buford hiker who was stripped naked and decapitated in the North Georgia woods in 2008. […]
The [Emerson] family quickly obtained a temporary restraining order barring the photosâ€™ release.
Georgia lawmakers acted almost as quickly as the Emerson family. House Bill 1322, the â€œMeredith Emerson Privacy Act,â€ would change the stateâ€™s open records law to prohibit public disclosure of gruesome crime-scene photos.
The matter has rekindled the debate over how to balance the rights of the public with those of crime victims and their families. […]
The version of the â€œMeredith Emerson Privacy Actâ€ approved unanimously last week by the House Governmental Operations Committee appears to allow broad exemptions to the Georgia Open Records Act.
It would bar the disclosure of â€œcrime scene materials which depict or describe a deceased person in a nude, bruised, bloodied or broken state with open wounds or in a state of dismemberment or decapitation.â€ This could be read to include not just crime-scene photos but also the police reports that describe such killings. […]
First Amendment lawyers say the publicâ€™s interest must be carefully balanced against the privacy interests of a crime victimâ€™s family.
â€œCrime-scene photos are extremely important to reporters to better understand a crime,â€ said Miami lawyer Tom Julin, who represented the news media in the case involving the slain Gainesville college students. â€œThey can serve an extremely important public service.â€