Judge tosses anti-paparazzi counts in Bieber case
- Photo: Steve Meddle/Rex USA1 of 14
- Photo: Hall/Pena/PacificCoastNews.com2 of 14
- Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage3 of 14
- Photo: FUTURE IMAGE/StarTraks4 of 14
- Photo: Cara Delevingne/Twitter5 of 14
- Photo: Joe Stevens/Retna Ltd.6 of 14
- Photo: Joe Stevens/Retna Ltd.7 of 14
- Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage8 of 14
- Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage9 of 14
- Photo: Fame Flynet10 of 14
- Photo: Mr Blue/WENN11 of 14
- Photo: PMK/WENN12 of 14
- Photo: MTRX/GSI13 of 14
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A law aimed at combating reckless driving by paparazzi is overly broad and should not be used against the first photographer charged under its provisions, a judge ruled Wednesday.
RELATED: Justin and Selena split up
Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson dismissed counts filed under the law against Paul Raef, who was charged in July with being involved in a high-speed pursuit of Justin Bieber.
The judge cited numerous problems with the 2010 statute, saying it was aimed at newsgathering activities protected by the First Amendment and that lawmakers should have simply increased the penalties for reckless driving rather than targeting celebrity photographers.
Attorneys for Raef argued the law was unconstitutional and wasn't meant to protect the public.
"It's about protecting celebrities," attorney Brad Kasierman said. "This discrimination sets a dangerous precedent."
Prosecutors argued that the law, which seeks to punish those who drive dangerously in pursuit of photos for commercial gain, could apply to people in other professions, not just the media.
"The focus is not the photo. The focus is on the driving," Assistant City Attorney Ann Rosenthal argued.
While members of the media are granted freedom under the First Amendment, their latitude to gather news is not unlimited, Rosenthal argued.
"This activity has been found to be particularly dangerous," she said of chases involving paparazzi.
Raef still faces traditional reckless driving counts and has not yet entered a plea.
Prosecutors claim he chased Bieber at more than 80 mph and forced other motorists to avoid collisions while trying to get shots of the teen heartthrob on a Los Angeles freeway.
The chase prompted several 911 calls from scared motorists and led to Bieber being pulled over.
Rubinson cited hypothetical examples in which wedding photographers or even those rushing to do a portrait shoot with a celebrity could face additional penalties if charged under the new statute.
Rosenthal also argued that the judge should look at factors specific to Raef's case, not hypothetical scenarios.
Kaiserman said the ruling applies only to Raef's case but could lead to the law being struck down if prosecutors appeal.
RELATED: Celeb Gloss: Selena Gomez
Fergie, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Heidi Klum all get an F on this week's Fashion Offenders.Watch Video »
Diva Double Date
Beyonce and Alicia Keys double date with their famous hubbies on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
Where Are They?
See what the cast of "American Beauty" is up to today.Watch Video »
J.Lo's Mini Me
Jennifer Lopez shares an adorable photo of her look-alike daughter, plus more celebritots on social media on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
Prince Harry, Jessica Alba and more stars who threw out the first pitch at baseball games.Watch Video »
Sofia Vergara poses in a revealing neon bikini while her "Modern Family" castmates hit the beach in Australia on Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
Like us on Facebook?
UP NEXTScream Queens
From Crowd Ignite