Anti-paparazzi charges revived over Bieber chase
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An appellate court has ordered the reinstatement of anti-paparazzi charges against a photographer accused of engaging in a high speed chase of Justin Bieber in 2012.
A three-judge Los Angeles Superior Court panel ordered Friday that two counts of a law aimed at curbing aggressive driving by the paparazzi be reinstated against celebrity photographer Paul Raef.
Raef was also charged with traditional reckless driving charges after the July 2012 chase on a Los Angeles freeway that topped 80 mph and prompted several 911 calls. The case had been put on hold while Los Angeles prosecutors appealed the dismissal of the anti-paparazzi counts. He has not yet entered a plea to any of the counts.
Raef is the first photographer to be charged under the 2010 law, but his attorneys successfully got the anti-paparazzi counts dismissed in November 2012 by arguing that the statute was unconstitutional. Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson agreed, stating at the time that the anti-paparazzi law could be applied to photographers rushing to shoot a wedding or a political rally, or even private citizens on their way to an event that might generate photos worth selling.
The judges had previously indicated that they believed the law was constitutional. Their full opinion on the case was not available Wednesday.
The anti-paparazzi law was inspired in part by the experience of Jennifer Aniston, who told a lawmaker about being unable to drive away after being surrounded by paparazzi on Pacific Coast Highway. The law raised the penalty for those who drive dangerously in pursuit of photos for commercial gain.
The offense is punishable by six months in jail and a $2,500 fine but went unused until the pursuit of Bieber, which resulted in the singer receiving a speeding citation.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP