New Jersey has passed a law that makes it illegal for first responders to photograph and disseminate photographs of accident victims without written permission from their family.
Like many other laws named after dead people, “Cathy’s Law” is a result of an emotional plea from the victim’s family rather than a logical approach to an issue, a topic frequently addressed by Radley Balko.
In this case, Cathy Bates was a 40-year-old woman who died in a car accident in 2009. A volunteer fire fighter arrived on the scene, took her photo and posted it on Facebook before her family was notified.
So her family spent the next two years lobbying for a law that would make it a crime for first responders to photograph and disseminate photos of accident victims without written permission from the family.
Governor Chris Christie signed the law into effect on Wednesday. Connecticut passed a similar law more commonly known as “Joshua’s Law.”
But Mickey Osterreicher, attorney from the National Press Photographers Association, wondered how it would affect journalists covering accident scenes.
“How long do u think it will be before 1st responders misapply & try to enforce this law against news photographers?” he asked on his Facebook wall earlier today.