Texas Government Code § 552.1085. Confidentiality of Sensitive Crime Scene Image

(a) In this section:

(1) “Deceased person's next of kin” means:

(A) the surviving spouse of the deceased person;

(B) if there is no surviving spouse of the deceased, an adult child of the deceased person;  or

(C) if there is no surviving spouse or adult child of the deceased, a parent of the deceased person.

(2) “Defendant” means a person being prosecuted for the death of the deceased person or a person convicted of an offense in relation to that death and appealing that conviction.

(3) “Expressive work” means:

(A) a fictional or nonfictional entertainment, dramatic, literary, or musical work that is a play, book, article, musical composition, audiovisual work, radio or television program, work of art, or work of political, educational, or newsworthy value;

(B) a work the primary function of which is the delivery of news, information, current events, or other matters of public interest or concern;  or

(C) an advertisement or commercial announcement of a work described by Paragraph (A) or (B).

(4) “Local governmental entity” means a county, municipality, school district, charter school, junior college district, or other political subdivision of this state.

(5) “Public or private institution of higher education” means:

(A) an institution of higher education, as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code ;  or

(B) a private or independent institution of higher education, as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code .

(6) “Sensitive crime scene image” means a photograph or video recording taken at a crime scene, contained in or part of a closed criminal case, that depicts a deceased person in a state of dismemberment, decapitation, or similar mutilation or that depicts the deceased person's genitalia.

(7) “State agency” means a department, commission, board, office, or other agency that is a part of state government and that is created by the constitution or a statute of this state.  The term includes an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code .

(b) For purposes of this section, an Internet website, the primary function of which is not the delivery of news, information, current events, or other matters of public interest or concern, is not an expressive work.

(c) A sensitive crime scene image in the custody of a governmental body is confidential and excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 and a governmental body may not permit a person to view or copy the image except as provided by this section.  This section applies to any sensitive crime scene image regardless of the date that the image was taken or recorded.

(d) Notwithstanding Subsection (c) and subject to Subsection (e), the following persons may view or copy information that constitutes a sensitive crime scene image from a governmental body:

(1) the deceased person's next of kin;

(2) a person authorized in writing by the deceased person's next of kin;

(3) a defendant or the defendant's attorney;

(4) a person who establishes to the governmental body an interest in a sensitive crime scene image that is based on, connected with, or in support of the creation, in any medium, of an expressive work;

(5) a person performing bona fide research sponsored by a public or private institution of higher education with approval of a supervisor of the research or a supervising faculty member;

(6) a state agency;

(7) an agency of the federal government;  or

(8) a local governmental entity.

(e) This section does not prohibit a governmental body from asserting an exception to disclosure of a sensitive crime scene image to a person identified in Subsection (d) on the grounds that the image is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 under another provision of this chapter or another law.

(f) Not later than the 10th business day after the date a governmental body receives a request for a sensitive crime scene image from a person described by Subsection (d)(4) or (5), the governmental body shall notify the deceased person's next of kin of the request in writing.  The notice must be sent to the next of kin's last known address.

(g) A governmental body that receives a request for information that constitutes a sensitive crime scene image shall allow a person described in Subsection (d) to view or copy the image not later than the 10th business day after the date the governmental body receives the request unless the governmental body files a request for an attorney general decision under Subchapter G regarding whether an exception to public disclosure applies to the information.


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