A Los Angeles Superior court judge threw out charges related to California’s new anti-paparazzi law Wednesday in the case of a freelance photographer who was charged in connection with a freeway chase with Justin Bieber, the LA Times reports.
Judge Thomas Rubinson ruled that while prosecutors could proceed with two traffic-related charges against photographer Paul Raef, the two counts related to the anti-paparazzi law did not pass Constitutional muster.
Passed in 2010, the law punishes paparazzi driving dangerously to obtain images they will sell. But Judge Rubinson said the law violated First Amendment protections by overreaching and potentially affecting such people as wedding photographers or photographers speeding to a location where a celebrity was present.
Attorney David S. Kestenbaum, one of the lawyers representing Raef, told the LA Times he was pleased by the judge’s decision, which showed his client was simply doing his job.
“The judge said that when you are talking about people doing their job and yet running the risk of additional criminal punishment, it has a chilling effect from anyone from newsgathers to wedding photographers and even real estate agents,” Kestenbaum said. “It just a lesson in constitutional law.
The ruling comes less than six months after Bieber was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley and cited for driving his Fisker sports car at high speed. The pop star said then he was being chased by a freelance paparazzo later identified as Raef.