A push to keep NC autopsy reports secret ends — for now


Republican senators have dropped immediate plans to prevent the public and family members from seeing autopsy reports that are connected to criminal cases. 

Last month, Sen. Danny Britt, a Robeson County Republican, presented a proposal to keep secret from the public autopsy reports in criminal cases until those cases were resolved. 

Neither family members of the deceased nor the public would have been able to see autopsy reports or photos, or listen to recordings. District attorneys would have been able to describe the reports to family members.  

By Tuesday, the provision to keep autopsy reports secret had been removed from the bill, but Britt said might come back up. 

“It’s always possible,” he told reporters. “Maybe not this session.”

Britt told reporters that the proposal had been changed to allow family members access to the autopsy reports before legislators decided to drop the whole thing. Britt said he did not want the provision to be a roadblock to passage when the bill (which includes other provisions related to criminal justice) goes back to the House for a vote. 

Under current law, autopsy reports are public records. The public can inspect autopsy photos and listen to recordings, but they cannot be copied. 

Legislators have been chipping away at the public’s right to see government documents.

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