Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 785
By: Wentworth
Criminal Jurisprudence


Currently, Texas law does not define an "autopsy report" and autopsy
reports include photographs and x-rays taken during an autopsy.  The lack
of an explicit definition leads to uncertainty regarding materials required
to be included in an autopsy report, and it is reported that fees
authorized to be charged for copies of the autopsy report are inadequate to
cover costs.  This bill would define an "autopsy report," clarify statutes
relating to persons authorized to receive the report, limit public access
to autopsy photographs and x-rays, and authorize the commissioners court to
set fees for copies of the autopsy report, photographs, and x-rays. 

S.B. 785 sets forth procedures and guidelines for the filing, release, and
disclosure of autopsy reports. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


SECTION 1. Amends Chapter 671B, Health and Safety Code, by amending
SEctions 671.011 and 671.012, and adding Section 671.013, as follows: 


Sec. 671.011. New heading: DEFINITION. Defines "autopsy report."  Provides
that an autopsy report does not include investigative reports or certain
other documents. 

Sec. 671.012. New heading: FILING AUTOPSY REPORT.  Makes no changes.

Sec. 671.013.  RELEASE OF REPORTS;  FEES.  Requires an autopsy report to be
released to an authorized person in connection with workers' compensation
or insurance claims.  Authorizes a recipient of information under
Subsection (a) to disclose information only to the extent consistent with
the authorized purposes for which the information was obtained.  Requires
the commissioners court of the county having custody of an autopsy report
to charge a fee not to exceed $25 for written portions of a report and the
actual cost of reproduction, including the reasonable cost of overhead for
x-rays and photographs.  Deletes a provision regarding a $5 fee. 

SECTION 2. Amends Section 11, Article 49.25, Code of Criminal Procedure, to
provide that medical records kept by a medical examiner are subject to
required public disclosure in accordance with Chapter 552, Government Code,
except that autopsy photographs or x-rays are excepted from required
disclosure under Chapter 522, but are subject to disclosure under a
subpoena or authority of other law, or if the photograph or x-ray is of a
body of a person who died while in custody of law enforcement.  Deletes
provision requiring such records to be public records. 

SECTION 3. Effective date: September 1, 1999.