Justin Bieber's wish to keep an overly aggressive paparazzo away for a long time is getting a second look.
After a lower court judge threw out two reckless driving charges in November against photographer Paul Raef, thus nullifying California's 2010 law targeting paparazzi, an appeals court this week issued a preliminary analysis stating that the law does not violate the 1st Amendment and recommended the charges against the shutterbug be resurrected.
Per the Los Angeles Times, by sending the case back L.A. Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson, the three-judge panel essentially asked him to decide either to rethink his original opinion or affirm it. If the latter, then the appellate division would hold a full hearing to determine the law's constitutionality and whether it goes too far in punishing paps that drive dangerously in order to shoot images they plan to sell.
"The statute is not constitutionally infirm because it is neither vague nor over-broad," the panel wrote in its Jan. 28 conclusions.
The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, which appealed Rubinson's decision to dismiss the charges, was pleased the court ruled in its favor.
"The city attorney continues to believe that the law is constitutional, protects public safety and welcomes the notice issued by the appellate division," the office said in a statement. "We look forward to another opportunity to hear the matter in the trial court."
Raef's attorney told the Times he believes Rubinson will uphold his initial ruling.
The freelance photographer was arrested following a July 6 high-speed freeway chase in which he's accused of pursuing the teen idol's Fisker Karma electric sports car in excess of 80 miles per hour. Both cars darted in and out of lanes, forcing other vehicles to break or swerve to avoid an accident.
Bieber was subsequently pulled over, cited for speeding and released. However, the singer later dialed 911 to report Raef was trailing him again.
Investigators subsequently tracked the photog down after identifying his license plate, and he was charged with four misdemeanors: failing to obey the lawful order of a peace officer, reckless driving, following another vehicle too closely, and reckless with driving with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain.
If the latter two charges are reinstated, Raef could face up to one year in county jail and fines up to $3,500; otherwise, the max he could get for the traditional reckless driving count would be 90 days in the slammer and a $1,000 fine.