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Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2001

Judge rules for Earnhardt

Autopsy photos won’t be made public

June 14, 2001

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— A judge refused to release Dale Earnhardt's autopsy photos Wednesday, agreeing with the NASCAR great's widow that making the pictures public would cause the family pain.

"In this particular case, the release constitutes a serious invasion of the highest degree. There is no question it's harmful, it's unspeakable," said Circuit Judge Joseph Will.

Will's decision was the latest victory for Teresa Earnhardt in her four-month battle to keep the autopsy photos out of the public realm.

Mrs. Earnhardt feared the photos would be posted on the Internet and would humiliate and distress her family.

The Independent Florida Alligator, a student-run newspaper at the University of Florida, and a DeLand-based Web site had sought access to the autopsy photos of Earnhardt, who died in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500.

Their attorneys had argued that a public review of the photos could prevent more racing deaths and determine if the medical examiner did an adequate job of determining what killed Earnhardt.

"We want a safer future where a great good has been served," said Tom Julin, an attorney for The Alligator. "We want more information because we want to stop these deaths from happening."

Julin said his client would seek a motion for a new trial. If that is denied, the case would move to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.

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