Georgia House passes bill to exempt crime photos from release

Nadia Tamez-Robledo | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | March 18, 2010

The Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that will exempt crime scene photos depicting a victim’s dismembered body or exposed genitalia from the state's Open Records Act, the Rome News-Tribune reported.

The bill, which passed with a 163-0 vote, was introduced last week in response to a request by Hustler magazine for crime scene photos of a hiker who was found nude and decapitated in 2008.

The bill would bar photographic and video evidence that falls within its boundaries from being distributed without written permission from the victim’s next of kin or a court order. Credentialed members of the press would be able to view the materials with supervision by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Related case photos would still be released.

State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers said the Senate will work quickly to pass the legislation with sensitivity to the First Amendment issue it raises.

"We have to be very careful when we talk about this," he said at a press conference. "I've spoken indirectly with some members (of the Senate) about this, and they want to be careful but move quickly."