Legislation was amended this week that would require a court order for reporters to obtain autopsy reports, which are currently disclosable under the California Public Records Act.

AB 2372 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), as amended on May 4th, would prohibit any report or notes pertaining to an autopsy report from being released, except to the family or next of kin of the victim and only after the investigation or prosecution of the suspect was complete. As amended, the only other exception would be by court order based upon good cause.

The bill is sponsored by the county of Ventura, which claims the need for the bill is to protect the privacy of victims and their families by not having personal details released. The bill would, however, improperly shift the burden from agencies to the public to demonstrate why information should be available, even in circumstances of police shootings or COVID-19.

CNPA is strongly opposed to this legislation. The bill was scheduled to be heard on May 19th in the Assembly Public Safety Committee but was pulled late yesterday and will likely not be heard this year. Assembly member Irwin is passionate about the subject and it is expected that she will reintroduce the measure next year.