Los Angeles Superior court judge Thomas Rubinson threw out charges related to a first-of-its-kind anti-paparazzi law Wednesday in a case in which a photographer was charged with driving dangerously with intent to capture photos for commercial gain. Assistant City Attorney Ann Rosenthal said hours after the ruling that her office would appeal. Paul Raef, the freelance photographer who is still facing charges of reckless driving and failing to obey a peace officer, was charged after he allegedly pursued pop singer Justin Bieber on July 6 on the 101 freeway.
Judge Rubinson cited numerous problems with the anti-paparazzi statute, saying it is unfairly aimed at newsgathering activities protected by the First Amendment. "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 [for] anyone from newsgatherers to wedding photographers and even real estate agents," said David S. Kestenbaum, an attorney representing Raef. The judge put this first case involving California’s anti-paparazzi law on hold until the appeal is resolved.
Is Judge Rubinson justified in throwing out the charges brought against photographer Paul Raef? Does the anti-paparazzi law need to be modified?
Stanley Goldman, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School