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Tuscon Sentinel: Judge denies motion to bar release of Jan. 8 autopsies

March 3, 2011- A motion by prosecutors to bar the release of autopsy reports on the victims of the Jan. 8 mass shooting has been denied by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.

The ruling, issued Wednesday and filed Thursday morning, does not mean the autopsies will necessarily be released, the judge wrote.

"The government’s motion presumes that the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office is either poised to release them voluntarily or legally obligated to do so. The Court has no proof of this," Burns wrote.

Defense attorneys for Jared Lee Loughner had concurred with the motion, filed Monday, to bar the release of the autopsies.

Burns called the move premature. "Absent, however, some indication that the release of the autopsy reports is imminent or inevitable, or absent a legal challenge to the Medical Examiner Office’s unwillingness to release the reports, the Court is not inclined to intervene at this point," he wrote.

"The release of the autopsy reports isn’t... a foregone conclusion. The Medical Examiner’s Office is well within its rights, at least initially, to deny the media’s request for their production," Burns wrote.

Prosecutors also asked the judge to bar staffers of the Medical Examiner's Office from making public statements on the case.

Burns denied that request, too, saying that there is no evidence that anyone from the office is prepared to speak to the media about the autopsies.



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