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By Ashley Speagle

Correspondent

ATLANTA -- House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, rushed a bill to committee Wednesday to deny Hustler magazine's request of crime-scene photos of a hiker killed in 2008 on a North Georgia trail.

The speaker introduced the bill Tuesday and sent it Wednesday to the House Governmental Affairs Committee after the magazine requested photos and related documents in the death of Meredith Emerson.

Rep. Ralston's legal counsel, John Walraven, said that, although a DeKalb County judge on Wednesday denied Hustler's request, the magazine could appeal the decision.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has not released the photos showing nudity and dismemberment but did give the magazine other documents requested through Georgia's Open Records Act.

Rep. Ralston asked the GBI to withhold the photos based on existing exemptions to the Open Records Act that include "medical files or similar files," Mr. Walraven said.

He said House Bill 1322 would "distinguish between constitutionally permissible material from material of a crime scene, which would be found out of bounds of the U.S. Supreme Court's obscenity laws."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jill Chambers, R-Atlanta, said she was grateful for the fast action.

"The passage of this legislation will protect the privacy of crime victims in the future from exploitation on the Internet and in for-profit magazines," she said.

Ashley Speagle covers the Georgia Legislature. Contact her at speagle.ashley@gmail.com.

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