Stupid judges strike again

<p></a> - Court Drops Case of 'Peeping Tom' in Target; Says Victim Was Not in Private Place - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News</p>

<p>Ferrante, now 34, was charged under a "Peeping Tom" statute that requires the victim to be "in a place where there is a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy." Testimony indicated he followed the girl, knelt down behind her and placed the camera under her skirt.</p>

<p>^^^ Was this really the only thing they could get him on? I figure if you use that definition then yes, he was innocent....but you think there'd be something a little more solid than that statute.</p>

<p>I agree that the decision was nonsensical. Even if she was in public, she had a right to a reasonable expectation of sufficient privacy to prevent this particular act. The prosecution must not have had very good lawyers.</p>

<p>An activist judge would have ruled that even though the behavior didn't fall within the definition of conduct which was prohibited by the statute, it was still bad, so who cares what the statute says - convict the guy anyway. A good judge would rule the way these judges did. Now it's the Legislature's job to amend the statute to cover this type of behavior. LaxAttack got it right.</p>

<p>It isn't "stupid" for a judge to rule against criminal prosecution for things which don't fall within the definitions the legislature has enacted in the state's laws.</p>

<p>Well, I'll backtrack enough to say that we don't have enough info. The portion of the statute quoted doesn't refer to a "private place" but rather a "place" where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. On its face, I think that a person using a camera to look up another person's skirt could fairly be said to have violated that statute. However, I suppose it's possible that there is other statutory language or case law further defining the "place" to only include more private locations.</p>

<p>A place where a person "has a reasonable expectation of privacy" is also a place that the police can't search or surveille without a warrant. So it would be the height of irresponsibility if a court, in order to convict one doofus, interpreted this language in a way that would significantly affect day-to-day policework. </p>

<p>It's part of our legal culture -- and I think everyone pretty much agrees with this -- that criminal prosecution and punishment should never occur unless the legislature has clearly defined a particular act to be a crime. Courts are never supposed to get creative on what constitutes a crime. For new forms of offensive behavior that may fall outside the definition of any existing crime, the victim is always free to sue the perpetrator for damages, and under our common law system courts have considerable leeway to decide whether conduct that no one has thought about previously is offensive enough to require compensation of the victim (i.e., is a "tort"). That bifurcated system has worked pretty well in the Anglo-American world for 700 years or so.</p>

<p>Can't blame the judges on this one.</p>

<p>If we can legalize abortion under a right to privacy theory we should be able to assume a woman in a skirt has an expectation of reasonable personal privacy.</p>

<p>Since when does a girl in a skirt have no reasonable expectation of privacy i.e. nobody's going to take a picture of her privates which she kept private? There's a reason why it's called a "private" part.</p>

Since when does a girl in a skirt have no reasonable expectation of privacy


<p>By this usage EVERYBODY, at all times, has the right to privacy and I can never be searched without warrant or have pictures taken of me, because I have a right to privacy no matter where I go.</p>

<p>I can't believe sexual harassment is a tort but not a crime.</p>

<p>Exactly. They should have charged him under a different statute...certainly something fit this crime better than what they pinned on him?</p>

<p>Laxattack, you made very valid points. While I find the actions of the person disgusting, I can see where the court had to decide that way.</p>

<p>Privacy, seems to some its only about the "physical" while their personal lives they don't mind being shared by all- business, politicians, etc.</p>

<p>I think someone knowing my shopping habits, medical history, legal problems, who I call would be as much a breach of my privacy as someone taking a picture of my behind, but people think knowing another personal life is okay.</p>

<p>They are free to take your picture from outside your personal space but sticking a camera under you is a clear violaton of that personal space. So if you want to take pix of girls accross the street or such, fine. Just don't go crawling under them.</p>

They are free to take your picture from outside your personal space but sticking a camera under you is a clear violaton of that personal space.


<p>That's the way the law SHOULD have been written but it wasn't. The legislature needs to go back and change/ammend it.</p>

<p>Yes. You can't have it both ways, barrons. You want the court to rule based on the law, fine, you get things like this, because when a legislature makes a law full of loopholes, it's inevitable.</p>

<p>You want the courts to be activist and make their own law... well, we know how that turns out. You can't really pick and choose.</p>

<p>Apparently in our state (WA) pervs have every right to do this, too:</p>

<p>Local</a> News | 'Upskirt' photographs deemed lewd but legal | Seattle Times Newspaper</p>

It's disgusting, the state Supreme Court opined.
It's reprehensible, the court added for good measure. </p>

<p>But it is not a crime to secretly take pictures up women's skirts in public places, according to the high-court opinion handed down yesterday. </p>

<p>The opinion came in response to appeals by two men who challenged the state's voyeurism law.


<p>Aha, but one can not do it freely in Seattle:</p>

<p>City</a> closes loophole in state law on voyeurism</p>

The City Council yesterday closed a loophole in the state voyeurism law, making it illegal to film or photograph under someone's clothing in a public place.</p>

<p>Anyone caught filming or transmitting the images in the city will face a gross misdemeanor charge, which carries a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.</p>

<p>"This will ban this particularly obnoxious kind of voyeurism," said Councilman Jim Compton, who introduced the legislation. He added: "I have only one word to say to people who do this: 'They're creeps.' "</p>


<p>The city's law will also ban the transmission of images. The court may also order those taped images to be destroyed.</p>

<p>"This is a question of privacy," Councilman Nick Licata said. "It's a question of people feeling safe and free wherever they go."</p>

<p>Compton added that he didn't want to wait for the state to take action first because it may be months before that can happen. </p>

<p>"Our hope is that the state will take our lead," he said.</p>

<p>New technology lets voyeurs use concealed cameras, as small as a quarter, to photograph unsuspecting women and girls and then distribute those pictures on the Web, Compton said.</p>

<p>Domestic violence experts who testified at a public forum also noted that such voyeurism is often connected with other behavior, including child pornography, domestic violence and sexual assault.


<p>barrons, no one, not even the defendant's lawyer, is arguing that what the guy did wasn't wrong. The issue was whether the Peeping Tom statute caught it.</p>

<p>The statute has two parts. The first, which covers just looking (a misdemeanor), applies only "in the vicinity of any private dwelling house, apartment building, any other place of residence, or in the vicinity of any locker room, dressing room, restroom or any other place where a person has a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy." The second, which covers taking photographs (a felony), applies "when the person viewed is in a place where there is a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy".</p>

<p>Now, you could possibly interpret the second "in a place where there is a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy" to mean something radically different from the first, and apply to the conduct here. But that would be completely contrary to legal and judicial norms of interpretation. Within the very same section of a statute, defining two closely related crimes, the second "privacy place" reference pretty much has to mean the same thing as the first one: a place like a residence, restroom, dressing room, locker room. Not the main area of a department store. Furthermore, as I said above, a "place where a person has a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy" is almost verbatim the test that the Supreme Court has used to determine when the Fourth Amendment requires police to have a warrant before they conduct a search or surveillance. Entire volumes of case law have been published regarding which places those are. Not surprisingly, they interpret that language pretty narrowly, because in every one of them the consequence of finding that a place was a "privacy place" would have been to throw out the results of a search or a wiretap and to let a criminal go free. So it's not like the judges here were writing on a blank slate, or that there was no reason not to read the statute broadly.</p>

<p>Furthermore, under the reading of the statute you seem to like, every 10-year-old boy who has ever attended a co-ed school with non-solid staircases or junglegyms has on occasion -- often repeatedly -- committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for up to a year. That seems a little harsh. But in criminal law, you don't get to reinterpret the statutes for every individual case, depending on how much the defendant has offended you.</p>

<p>This was an easy case, one where judicial conservatives and liberals are going to reach the same conclusion. This was Oklahoma -- among the reddest of red states. The trial judge threw the prosecution out (something that rarely happens). The appeals court voted 4-1 to affirm. Maybe there are 5 liberal judges in Oklahoma and they were all on this case, but I doubt it. </p>

<p>Bottom line: Oklahoma criminalized peeping in a category of places that even the police can't search, photograph, or wiretap without judicial approval. It didn't criminalize the same behavior elsewhere. It didn't criminalize looking up women's skirts anywhere they happened to be. If it does criminalize that -- and the legislature likely will, after this -- the statute will probably look somewhat different, because of the school-staircase or playground situation. </p>

<p>If the victim in this case wants confirmation that society condemns the behavior at issue, she is free to sue for damages (including punitive damages, since actual damages are likely to be scant) and an injunction against doing it again. She'll win in no time flat. "Not a crime" is not the same thing as "OK".</p>

<p>Yes!! Let the sexual harassment lawsuits roll. Perhaps throw a restraining order in there too.</p>

<p>I think one could easily see the difference between accidental or incidental peeping and intentional. That is the same as the difference between seeing somebody topless at the beach vs looking through their window at home. Laws have been expanded in much flimsier circumstances when it served the interests of liberals or even sometimes conservatives.</p>

<p>Accidental vs. intentional isn't the issue. The statute makes that distinction, and requires intent (as almost every statute defining a crime does), and no one would argue that the conduct here wasn't intentional. But the little boys under the school staircase are behaving intentionally, too. What they are doing WOULD be a crime if they did it in the girls' restroom or locker room.</p>

<p>You want the statute to make it a crime to photograph anything a person reasonably expects to keep private, no matter where she is. That would pretty much be the standard for the tort of invasion of privacy. But whoever drafted this statute used formulations that clearly have a different legal meaning.</p>

<p>And while you are right that judges sometimes interpret laws broadly when it serves their ideological purposes, that rarely, if ever, happens with the definition of crimes. Our common law tradition in fact makes that the norm for civil offenses, and many civil statutes are deliberately written in a broad, vague manner to give judges a lot of leeway to decide what conduct is prohibited and what isn't. (The Sherman Act, which is the basis of most of our antitrust law, says approximately nothing specific.) But one of the important differences between conservatism and facism is a reluctance to send people to prison merely because you are a judge and you don't like what they did.</p>