Today's Law As Amended

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AB-2372 Coroners and medical examiners.(2019-2020)

As Amends the Law Today


 Section 27523 is added to the Government Code, to read:

 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, except as provided in subdivision (c), any report of death, autopsy report, investigation summary, toxicology report, coroner’s register, file or other record, working paper, or note relating to a postmortem examination or autopsy of a decedent is confidential and shall not be disclosed except as follows:
(1) To a district attorney or any criminal justice agency, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 13101 of the Penal Code, with jurisdiction over an investigation of the death, a public defender or attorney representing a defendant in a criminal action or proceeding that relates to the death of the decedent, upon request or as otherwise required by law.
(2) To the following persons, upon request, after completion of a criminal investigation and any subsequent prosecution:
(A) The decedent’s next of kin, personal representative, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner if all of the following are provided to verify identity:
(i) A declaration under penalty of perjury that the individual is the personal representative, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner of the decedent.
(ii) A valid form of identification.
(iii) A death certificate.
(B) A child or elder fatality review panel established pursuant to law.
(C) A physician and surgeon who treated the decedent immediately before death.
(D) Upon proof that the decedent was covered by a policy issued by an insurance company, an authorized representative of that insurance company or any workers’ compensation or other similar program that provides death benefits when an employee dies from a work-related injury or illness.
(E) An authorized representative of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor, or other federal or state agency with authority to investigate a death resulting from the decedent’s type of injury or illness.
(3) Pursuant to a court order following a finding of good cause.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a coroner or medical examiner shall make public, upon request, the following information:
(1) The name, age, gender, and race of the decedent.
(2) The date and place of death.
(3) The cause and manner of death.
(c) This section shall not apply to the making or dissemination of a copy, reproduction, or facsimile of any kind of a photograph, negative, or print, including instant photographs and video recordings, of the body, or any portion of the body, of a deceased person, taken by or for a coroner or medical examiner at the scene of death or in the course of a postmortem examination or autopsy, as governed by Section 129 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(d) A coroner or medical examiner shall not be personally liable for monetary damages in a civil action for any act or omission in compliance with this section.
SEC. 2.
 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act, which adds Section 27523 to the Government Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:
Protecting the confidentiality of a decedent’s autopsy records will help decedent’s families avoid additional trauma and privacy violations.
SEC. 3.
 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.