Judge Throws Out Anti-Paparazzi Charges in Justin Bieber Highway Chase Case
A judge has ruled the anti-paparazzi law connected to Justin Bieber’s freeway chase last summer is unconstitutional, throwing out two of the four charges against photographer Paul Raef and opening the door for a prolonged battle over the boundaries separating celebrities from the media covering them.
Thomas Rubinson of the Los Angeles Superior Court gave his ruling on Wednesday, determining that prosecutors could go ahead with two traffic-related counts against Raef but NOT the specific anti-paparazzi charges brought against him in July.
In Rubinson’s decision, the new prohibitions on photogs meant to keep them from driving recklessly in pursuit of their famous subjects were deemed too overreaching.
He ruled that the statute is too broad and should not be used against Raef.
In Rubinson’s estimation, while the new law was intended to protect the safety and privacy of celebrities, in practice it threatens First Amendment-protected news gathering tactics and could wind up used against private citizens rushing to cover anything from a wedding to a political rally.
The City Attorney’s Office is expected to appeal the ruling.
Raef still faces the “regular” reckless driving charges and could lead to jail time.
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