FLORIDA PAPERS FILE LAWSUIT OVER EARNHARDT PHOTOS

By: Staff Reports

SPJ Supports Newspapers’ Position


The Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel
have filed a lawsuit asking the Broward Circuit Court to declare
unconstitutional the new state law that prevents the public and
media from viewing autopsy photographs without a judge’s consent.

The Society of Professional Journalists has added its support to
the newspapers that are trying to overturn the law which took
effect on March 29 when Gov. Jeb Bush signed it.

“This is clearly a bad law spurred by shameless pandering on the
part of the Florida Legislature,” said Ray Marcano, SPJ president
and assistant managing editor for production at the Dayton
(Ohio) Daily News. “By filing this lawsuit, the
Sentinel has done what Florida lawmakers won’t do –
fight for the public’s right to know.”

The controversy began when the Sentinel requested that a
medical expert be allowed to examine the Dale Earnhardt autopsy
photos after he died Feb. 18 in a crash at Daytona International
Speedway. The newspaper is investigating the cause of Earnhardt’s
death to determine if his life could have been saved by further
safety measures that now are used by other racing leagues.



Related story:
ORLANDO SENTINEL COMPROMISES WITH EARNHARDT FAMILY (03/19/01)

Related E&P opinion pieces:
SENTINEL IS WRONG ON EARNHARDT PHOTOS (03/19/01)



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