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Law shielding “killing'” photos could become permanent

A law that exempts photos, video or audio of a “killing of a person” from state public records law would become permanent under a bill filed Monday.

The Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee introduced a proposed bill (SB 7022) to delete the part of the law providing for repeal of the public record exemption.

The law says “a photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person is confidential and exempt,” but a provision would have allowed the law to be automatically retired next October unless lawmakers re-enacted it.

The bill simply strikes out that section.

Generally speaking, the 2011 law allows such photos and recordings to be seen or heard only by the deceased person’s family members unless a judge decides otherwise.

The measure was backed by then-Sen. Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican.

According to an Associated Press report, she modeled it on another law, passed after NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt was killed in a 2001 crash during the Daytona 500. That law blocked autopsy photos from disclosure.

The idea is that family members shouldn’t have to be subjected to reliving the death of a loved one, she said.

“The goal is not to have the family have to replay this every night on the channel 7 news,” she told the (Senate Judiciary) committee. “So the bottom line is, this is to protect the families of the victims.”

The bill is scheduled to be considered at the Criminal Justice committee’s meeting at 1 p.m. next Monday.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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