Attorney says latest Bieber citation shows photographer's innocence
An attorney for the photographer charged in connection with a freeway pursuit involving Justin Bieber said Wednesday he will use the pop star's latest run-in with West Hollywood deputies to help demonstrate his client's innocence.
Bieber was pulled over in a white Ferarri around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 600 block of Hayward Avenue and was cited for making an unsafe left turn and having an expired registration, said L.A. County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Attorney Dmitry Gorin said Wednesday the citations indicate Bieber was attempting to shift blame to freelance photographer Paul Raef, who was charged in connection with a July 6 freeway incident.
"If there are numerous incidents of reckless driving or speeding by Mr. Bieber, the conduct would demonstrate a disregard for traffic laws," Gorin said. "This should be admissible evidence at trial as to whether he uses the paparazzi as a justification to speed and violate traffic laws."
Raef, 30, was later charged by the Los Angeles city attorney's office with reckless driving, failing to obey the lawful order of a peace officer, two counts of following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain.
Raef had faced up to one year in county jail and fines totaling $3,500. He was the first paparazzo charged under a 2010 state law that adds penalties on paparazzi driving dangerously for images they will sell.
On Wednesday, a judge threw out two counts related to the anti-paparazzi law, saying they violated the 1st Amendment because it was overbroad and could potentially apply to activities such as wedding photography or to someone who was running late for a consensual photo shoot with a celebrity, said attorney David S. Kestenbaum, who also is representing Raef.
Gorin also has argued that the case should be dismissed because CHP officers apparently never saw his client pursuing Bieber on the 101 Freeway, and the pop singer did not identify him.
More specifically, a misdemeanor offense must be personally observed by a police officer or the charges must be dismissed, Gorin said.
Asked if Bieber's second alleged violation constituted a trend, the sheriff's spokesman said it wasn't clear.
"You have two incidents," Whitmore said. "Is that a pattern? I don't know. I know that he's a teenager."
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Justin Bieber performing this month in New Jersey. Credit: Mike Coppola / Getty Images