Georgia judge obstructs effort by Hustler to pornify photo of murdered hiker; Georgia law preventing distribution of certain crime scene photos has also been proposed.

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From CNN:

Photos of the nude and decapitated body of a murdered hiker, sought by a writer on assignment for Hustler magazine, will not be released, a judge in Georgia ordered Wednesday.

The decision came as state lawmakers considered legislation that would ban public release of graphic photos of crime victims. First Amendment lawyers say the legislation could have a chilling effect on open records requests.

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Daniel Coursey issued a temporary order restraining the Georgia Bureau of Investigation from releasing “any and all photographs, visual images or depictions of Meredith Emerson which show Emerson in an unclothed or dismembered state.

Emerson’s family sought the order after learning of the request for copies of crime scene photos of the 24-year-old, attorney Lindsay Haigh said. Emerson’s admitted killer, Gary Michael Hilton, received a life sentence in exchange for leading investigators to her body in the north Georgia mountains on January 7, 2008, six days after Emerson disappeared.

The judge’s order came on the same day the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously passed “The Meredith Emerson Memorial Privacy Act,” which would prevent gruesome crime scene photos from being publicly released or disseminated, according to Rep. Jill Chambers, the bill’s principal sponsor.

House Bill 1322 would prevent the release of photographs of the bodies of crime victims that are “nude, bruised, bloodied or in a broken state with open wounds, a state of dismemberment or decapitation,” said Chambers. …

The article notes that if this becomes law, First Amendment challenges will assuredly follow. I’d guess they will succeed because the countervailing privacy interests are unlikely to be given much weight. I don’t look forward to reading the words of people I otherwise respect arguing that the impact of having the photo circulated publicly on Meredith Emerson’s family and friends should not be taken into account.

–Ann Bartow

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4 Responses to Georgia judge obstructs effort by Hustler to pornify photo of murdered hiker; Georgia law preventing distribution of certain crime scene photos has also been proposed.

  1. bob coley jr says:

    Does freedom of speech include the freedom NOT to speak (unless in court; self-incrimination the exception of course)? Do our freedoms survive our death; if so, how? Does freedom of the press always mean no one can challenge? Can’t these types of cases be decided on a case by case basis, in court, using existing law without new blanket laws that may be deemed unconstitutional?

  2. pj says:

    wow. as someone who studies the effects of violent pornography on society (as well as objectification of all minorities in general) this scares me to the very core. I don’t know if it has come up in this debate, or if everyone is treating hustler like they are just another news outlet, but they are not. It would be horrific to see this pictures published against the will of the family period. But for them to be published in a magazine that is, lets cut to the chase here, masturbatory material…its a whole different kind of porn/rape culture scary. I hope the day never comes when a right to publish the murdered and decapitated body of a human who can’t consent to pictures of her murdered body being published amid pornographic pictures trumps her right and her family’s right to privacy, and maybe even more important, their daughter/sister/cousin/friend etc.’s basic decency and self respect. How dare they even ask….

  3. Samquilla says:

    I am more and more convinced every day that in this techonolically glutted world that we must move to a regime where the subject of a photograph owns his/her image and not the photographer. The ownership rights of photographers came from an era when it was much MUCH easier to control whether you were the subject of a photo. Now, who knows when someone might be snapping your photo or where it might appear once snapped. People should own their image. Period.

  4. Pingback: Hustler tries to pornify photo of murdered hiker « Anti-Porn Feminists

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