Photographer asks for Bieber chase case to be dismissed

By | Published on Friday 10 August 2012

Justin Bieber

The paparazzo charged after chasing Justin Bieber down a Californian freeway will plead not guilty, his lawyer has told TMZ.

As previously reported, Bieber filed a complaint against photographer Paul Raef after being stopped by police for speeding last month. The singer said that he was being chased and was trying to escape. Raef was arrested and, as well as facing other charges, became the first person to be charged under new-ish anti-paparazzi laws in California which aims to punish photographers who create dangerous situations is search of profit.

Raef’s lawyer, David Kestenbaum, yesterday asked the judge hearing the case to dismiss the charges on the grounds that laws against reckless driving already exist and a specific law against photographers violates their first amendment rights to, as members of the free press, get a story. The story in this case presumably being that Justin Bieber was driving a car.

The judge refused to make an immediate decision and postponed arraignment until 24 Aug.

Speaking to TMZ outside the court, Kestenbaum said: “There are already laws in place that apply to this, specific for reckless driving. [The new law being used here] just targets a specific class of people with enhanced penalties for reckless driving to get a photograph … I believe it violates the first amendment right of news gatherers to get photographs and there already is a law of general flexibility on the books, so there’s no need to have a new specific law”.

He added that Bieber had seemingly got off very lightly, saying: “It’s interesting that he’s [Raef] cited for reckless driving and the other charge, whereas the individual he was allegedly chasing [Bieber] was driving a much faster car and, according to some of the reports I’ve read, driving a lot faster, but only received a speeding ticket”.

If convicted, Raef faces up to twelve months in prison and a fine of $3500.