The accident that ended Earnhardt's life started as he battled for position heading into the final turn of the race. Earnhardt made contact with
Sterling Marlin's car, his famous No. 3 shot up the track and straight into the wall, and then was hit again by the car of Ken Schrader.
Under a law passed after Earnhardt's death, a judge must be convinced of the necessity of unsealing autopsy photos.
On Monday, Will upheld the constitutionality of the law, which forbids copying or inspecting autopsy photos and records. Breaking the law would be a
third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Lawyers for the Earnhardt family had also asked the judge to make permanent the temporary injunction banning access to the photos.
Will declined to rule on the issue.
``This is not a place for a circuit judge to go,'' he said.
A permanent injunction was opposed by lawyers for the newspaper and Web site, in addition to the Orlando Sentinel and Volusia County.
``Only the Legislature has the authority to grant an exemption,'' Volusia County attorney Dan Eckert said. ``Any balance of privacy concerns have to
be done by the Legislature. It's not appropriate for administrative officials to do so.
suggested law modified in fla...scroll down to
CAP Seeks to Modify Fla. Autopsy Photo Law
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Supreme Court has declined to review one of the two cases challenging the constitutionality of the Dale Earnhardt
autopsy law. In a 4-3 decision, the Court denied the
request of the Independent Florida Alligator to have the law that seals autopsy records from the public overturned. The law was passed in 2001
the death of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.
“This is a dark day for Florida residents,” said attorney Tom Julin of Miami, who represents the Alligator. “It means that they cannot rely on the
Florida Supreme Court to uphold their right of access to public
records.” Court of Appeals’ decision to stand. The appellate court ruled in March 2001 that the viewing of any autopsy photos violates the privacy
rights of families. “The Florida Constitution gives every citizen the right to inspect and copy public records so that all may have the opportunity to
see and know how the government functions,” District Judge Thomas D. Sawaya wrote in the appellate court’s decision.
“It is also a declared constitutional principle that every individual has a right of privacy.” Another case challenging the autopsy law is pending in
Broward County filed by The South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel in the 4th District Court of Appeals.
Julin has not ruled out a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court. (7/2/03)
30 September 2003
DAYTONA BEACH -- An independent college newspaper petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday as part of its continuing challenge to view autopsy
photos of Dale Earnhardt.
The petition was filed by Miami attorney Tom Julin on behalf of the Independent Florida Alligator after two Florida courts upheld the controversial
law that restricts public access to such photos. The law was enacted following the NASCAR legend's fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. The state's
highest court refused to hear the case.
"Public records should be public to everyone," Julin said. "The law now lets judges pick and choose who gets to see public records. That violates
the First Amendment."
Please note I wish to never see these autopsy photo's, accidentally or on purpose, ever.
I repected this man who was not just a regular famous person, in a sport I dearly enjoy to this day, and only wish the best for his family....
But I am torn by the legal decisions involved in the issues relating to his autopsy photos.......
First Amendment Violation by limiting access to public records,.....
or preventing the feeding of Macabre Minds.. ??
Help me decide which is right, full freedom via the First Amendment Rights we are constitutionally granted by charter,...