(a) Notwithstanding any other law, 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 the coroner at the scene of death or in the course of a post mortem examination or autopsy, shall not be made or disseminated except as follows:
(1) For use in a criminal action or proceeding in this state that relates to the death of that person.
(2) As a court of this state permits, by order after good cause has been shown and after written notification of the request for the court order has been served, at least five days before the order is made, upon the district attorney of the county in which the post mortem examination or autopsy has been made or caused to be made.
(3) For use or potential use in a civil action or proceeding in this state that relates to the death of that person, if either of the following applies:
(A) The coroner receives written authorization from a legal heir or representative of that person before the action is filed or while the action is pending. To verify the identity of the legal heir or representative, all of the following shall be provided to the coroner:
(i) A declaration under penalty of perjury that the individual is a legal heir or representative of the deceased person.
(ii) A valid form of identification.
(iii) A certified death certificate.
(B) A subpoena is issued by a party who is a legal heir or representative of the deceased person in a pending civil action.
(b) This section shall not apply to the making or dissemination of a copy, reproduction, or facsimile for use in the field of forensic pathology, in medical or scientific education or research, or by a coroner or any law enforcement agency in the United States for investigative purposes, including identification and identification confirmation.
(c) This section shall apply to a copy, reproduction, or facsimile, and to a photograph, negative, or print, regardless of when it was made.
(d) A coroner is not personally liable for monetary damages in a civil action for any act or omission in compliance with this section.
(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 467, Sec. 1. (AB 2427) Effective January 1, 2017.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018