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Photog Busted for Justin Bieber Freeway Chase Plans to Challenge Anti-Paparazzi Law, Citing "Freedom of the Press"
The photographer charged under a new California anti-paparazzi law for his role in a high-speed freeway chase of teen sensation Justin Bieber was in court today, seeking dismissal of the case.
Paul Raef is the first paparazzo charged under the new law that penalizes photographers who drive dangerously while in pursuit of images they intend to sell. The incident in question was a July 6 chase on the Hollywood Freeway near Studio City, with Justin Bieber in his Fisker Karma as the target.
Several motorists, including L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine, called 911 to report the chrome customized sports car whizzing by. Bieber was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol and was issued a ticket, but Raef sped off.
Bieber called 911 himself about a half hour later to report he was again being followed, and described Raef's Toyota Rav4. Law enforcement caught up with Raef after locating him and his vehicle, and other paparazzi, at a downtown parking garage.
Raef was charged July 25 under the new law, as well as with single counts of reckless driving and failing to obey the order of a peace officer, according to City News Service. He was expected to be arraigned in court in Van Nuys this morning, however the arraignment was postponed until August 24.
The arraignment was postponed, however, because Raef is asking to have the charges dismissed. TMZ reports that this morning before the judge, Raef's lawyer, David Kestenbaum "asked the judge to dismiss the charges," adding "the judge has not ruled," and that "Raef did not enter a plea."
Kestenbaum told TMZ that his client is just like a reporter rushing to the scene of a crime or fire, and the new law prohibits Raef from doing his job, claiming his client has a "constitutional right to chase it." ("It" we presume is the "big story" of Justin Bieber, um, driving on a freeway. OMG, right? That's just like a breaking news story!) Kestenbaum will challenge the law, "presumably on grounds that it violates his First Amendment right to freedom of the press," notes TMZ.
It's up to the judge now. The City Attorney's office says Raef could face up to a year in jail and $3,500 in fines if convicted.