Published August 24, 2012
LOS ANGELES – A paparazzo charged with recklessly pursuing Justin Bieber for photos will challenge the constitutionality of the law targeting aggressive celebrity-hounding tactics, his attorney said Friday.
Attorney David S. Kestenbaum filed a motion asking a judge to declare that the 2010 California statute penalizing those who drive recklessly in pursuit of commercial photos is unconstitutional.
The 17-page motion argues the law used to charge his client, Paul Raef, violates First Amendment protections for the press and is too broad.
Kestenbaum filed the motion during a brief hearing that neither Raef nor Bieber attended. The photographer was charged last month with four misdemeanor counts after a July 6 high-speed pursuit on a Los Angeles freeway involving the pop singer and other paparazzi.
Raef is the first person charged under the law.
The motion does not address the specifics of the incident, but rather challenges the law on constitutional grounds. It contends the law is vague because state vehicle codes do not adequately define what would be a photo taken for commercial purposes.
"First and foremost, the statute unconstitutionally singles out the press for a special penalty," the motion states.
A judge will hear the motion during a hearing on Sept. 24. Raef has not yet entered a plea in the case.
Raef, 30, was not arrested during the chase. However, his license plate was reported to police, who investigated and presented the case to city prosecutors. They charged Raef on July 25, but when the photographer appeared for booking, Kestenbaum said police were unaware of the new law and he was not processed.
Kestenbaum said he expects the case will likely end up in an appeals court, regardless of any ruling by a criminal court judge.
Raef has also been charged with more traditional reckless driving and for following other cars too closely.
Prosecutors allege he chased Bieber at more than 80 mph and forced other motorists to avoid collisions while Raef tried to get shots of the teen heartthrob.