South Carolina judge rules autopsy reports are not public information
South Carolina: Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, of the 3rd Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, has ruled that autopsy reports are not subject to public disclosure under Freedom of Information Act laws. Because the judge decided that autopsy results are medical reports, rather than investigative reports, he said they must remain confidential.
This ruling came about when a Sumter County newspaper called "The Item" asked the Richland County Coroner for the autopsy report of a man shot by police. The coroner, Gary Watts, said that the report was a medical record and was exempt from FOIA laws. "The public certainly wants to know what's going on when someone dies unexpectedly and we want to release that to them. But there's a lot in those reports that aren't related to that incident," he said. Attorney Jay Bender, who represented the newspaper, argued, "The fact this person was killed by police shows why it is so important the facts are disclosed to the public so they can review them."
|This article was written by Matt Latourelle, the Project Director for the State Courts Project on Judgepedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|