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Anti-Paparazzi Law Upheld in Justin Bieber Case
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Pop star Justin Bieber was chased by paparazzi Paul Raef in 2012, photo courtesy of Billboard

Summary: An appellate court has ruled that California’s newest anti-paparazzi law is constitutional. 

On Wednesday, an appellate court upheld California’s newest anti-paparazzi law that curbs reckless driving by photographers.


According to Business Insider, a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled that the new law did not violate the First Amendment’s right to freedom of the press. Under Wednesday’s ruling, reckless driving is a misdemeanor when one is in pursuit of images. This gives the accused the right to a jury trial.

The case involved Paul Raef, a photographer who was charged after being accused of chasing pop star Justin Bieber along a Los Angeles freeway in 2012. Because of the incident, Bieber received a speeding ticket and Raef was charged with traditional reckless driving. Raef’s vehicle sped along at approximately 80 mph.

A lower court judge originally determined in 2012 that the 2010 law affecting Raef was unconstitutional. In 2014, a Los Angeles County Superior Court appellate panel reinstated the charge.

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Raef’s lawyers, Mark Kressel and Dmitry Gorin, appealed the case to the state appellate court; the criminal case was on hold during the appeal. The state appellate court heard Kressel and Gorin on June 12.

With Wednesday’s ruling, Raef’s criminal case will be reinstated. He can face a punishment of up to six months in jail.

While the civil case was being appealed in August, media groups showed support for Raef. They warned of the dangers of police using the law to stop journalists, citing the photography of events in Ferguson, Missouri as an example.  Their brief states, “[C]ountless current examples demonstrate how photojournalists in particular are vulnerable to harassment for performing their jobs, simply because the act of filming or taking pictures can provoke negative reactions from the individuals, including law enforcement officers, being recorded. The many arrests of journalists in Ferguson, Missouri, last year are illustrative.”

Katharine MacKenzie, the attorney who filed the charge against Raef for the city of Los Angeles, says the law punishes those who “use a crime to get the image,” according to Business Insider. The 2010 law was created because Jennifer Aniston told a lawmaker she was unable to drive on the Pacific Coast Highway because of the paparazzi’s harassment.

Justin and Jennifer are not the only celebs who have been subjected to danger by the paparazzi. In 2014, photographers swarmed Justin’s ex-girlfriend, pop star Selena Gomez, causing her to get into an accident.

The paparazzi are notorious for doing anything it takes to get a shot of a celebrity, even if that means invading privacy or putting the subject in danger. E Online estimates that top paparazzi can make as much as $500,000 a year. Mediocre paparazzi make an average American salary, raking in about $250 a photo, but everyone is looking for that elusive, exclusive shot that could command up to six figures.

In 1997, Princess Diana of Wales and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in Paris while being chased by paparazzi. In 2008, a jury ruled that the deaths were the fault of her driver and the photographers chasing her.


A photograph of the wrecked Mercedes involved in the accident that killed Princess Diana, photo courtesy of The Daily Mail


Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Additional source: USA Today


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