DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Attorneys for Dale Earnhardt's widow and The Orlando Sentinel are discussing an agreement that would allow the public to view -- but not copy -- autopsy photos of the NASCAR driver.
"The idea would be to balance the public's rights of access with the Earnhardt's interest in right of privacy," said Laurence H. Bartlett, an attorney representing Teresa Earnhardt.
Attorneys for the Sentinel, Teresa Earnhardt and Volusia County have been discussing an agreement that would allow the public to see Earnhardt's autopsy file but not take copies.
The agreement would prevent the photos from reaching the Internet, Bartlett said. Also, anyone wanting to make copies of the photos would have to ask Circuit Judge Joseph G. Will in a court hearing.
Teresa Earnhardt sued Volusia County on Feb. 22, seeking to stop the county from releasing its medical examiner's autopsy photos taken following Earnhardt's fatal wreck at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.
Will granted the request, saying the photos have no "bona fide newsworthiness" and could cause the family "additional anguish and grief."
But Friday, an Orlando Sentinel reporter submitted a public records request asking for "any and all photographs" of Earnhardt.
Sentinel attorney David Bralow said the newspaper has no desire to cause Teresa Earnhardt more pain. The Sentinel's editors have publicly stated they have no intention of publishing the photos in the newspaper.
However, "if these photos will help elucidate the nature of what exactly went wrong or what happened to Dale Earnhardt, then the public is served," Bralow said.
Under Florida's public records law, autopsy reports and photographs are public record unless they are part of an active criminal investigation.
Bartlett said the proposed deal is fair and strikes a good balance between the law and the judge's order, but Teresa Earnhardt doesn't want the photos to be released.
"She doesn't think anybody has any business looking at the autopsy of her husband," Bartlett said. "She's having a hard time understanding the scope of the public records law."
If an agreement isn't reached, a hearing has been set for 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
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