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Judge Dismisses Two Charges Against Paparazzi Chasing Bieber PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fred Shuster   
Thursday, 15 November 2012 07:41

VAN NUYS (CNS) – In a blow to efforts to penalize paparazzi who drive recklessly in pursuit of celebrities, a Van Nuys Superior Court judge has thrown out two criminal charges against a photographer accused of chasing singer Justin Bieber on the Hollywood (101) Freeway in the San Fernando Valley.

Paul Raef was the first paparazzo charged under a 2010 state law aimed at cracking down on paparazzi, but Judge Thomas Rubinson said the law was "problematic" and "overly inclusive."

He said the law "sweeps very widely and would increase the penalties for reckless driving" in a wide range of unintended circumstances. Since the law applies to people taking pictures for commercial purposes, the judge noted that it could be applied to a wedding photographer rushing to get to a wedding or even someone who was late for a prearranged appointment to take photos of Bieber.

Despite the two charges being dismissed, Raef is still charged with misdemeanor counts of reckless driving and failing to obey the order of a peace officer. Raef's attorney, Brad Kaiserman, said the law is "really about protecting celebrities."

He argued there was no proof that "driving while newsgathering is more dangerous" than any other type of driving. Bieber received a speeding ticket at the end of the July 6 chase, which raised the ire of City Councilman Dennis Zine, who witnessed the chase and called 911 to report seeing Bieber's sports car speeding along the freeway.

Zine said Bieber was weaving in and out of freeway lanes in his customized chrome Fisker Karma while being followed at high speeds by other vehicles. According to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, the pack included Raef's Toyota Rav 4, which was seen being driven in excess of 80 mph, weaving across lanes and even on the freeway shoulder. Bieber pulled over when California Highway Patrol officers caught the group, but Raef sped off, according to prosecutors.

About 30 minutes later, Bieber called 911 and reported that he was being followed again by the Toyota, according to the City Attorney's Office.

Officers responded and found the Toyota and other paparazzi gathered at a downtown Los Angeles parking garage.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 08:05