MIAMI – The Associated Press and other media outlets urged a judge Tuesday to grant access to police videos made shortly after pop singer Justin Bieber’s arrest last month on driving under the influence and other charges.
The news organizations said in a motion filed in Miami-Dade County court that the 19-year-old has no legal basis to prevent release of the videos, taken at the Miami Beach police station after he was booked Jan. 23. Bieber’s attorneys have asked a judge to allow them to review the videos before their potential release.
Attorney Deanna Shullman, who represents the AP and the other news organizations, said in the filing that Bieber cannot legally compel a state agency to withhold a public record and that his attorneys have not identified any exemption that would apply. In addition, she said the law would permit only certain portions of the videos to be withheld or redacted if they were exempt or deemed confidential.
“Quite simply, the defendant’s private will does not trump Public Records Act mandates,” Shullman said in the motion.
A hearing is scheduled Thursday on the matter before Miami-Dade County Judge William Altfield. The office of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has denied the AP’s request for the videos pending the outcome of the hearing, Shullman said.
Bieber’s attorneys, including well-known defence lawyer Roy Black, said in their motion that Bieber would suffer “irreparable harm” if the videos are not reviewed by them before their release. One video was previously released by police, showing Bieber being patted down by an officer after his arrest. There are eight other unreleased videos.
If the recordings are released, the AP would review the content and determine what, if any, of it would meet the news co-operative’s standards for publication.
Defendants in criminal cases often ask judges to limit release of evidence to the public, but typically they claim their right to a fair trial would be jeopardized. Bieber’s claim is unusual because it involves privacy rights. Bieber’s lawyers have said the videos may depict him “in various states of undress” that should not be made public.
Bieber has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanour charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license. Police say he and R&B singer Khalil Amir Sharieff were involved in an illegal street drag race in a residential section of Miami Beach.
Breath tests showed that Bieber’s blood-alcohol content was below the .02 legal limit for underage drivers, but toxicology tests revealed the presence of the active ingredient in marijuana and the antidepressant Xanax. A March trial date has been scheduled.
Besides the AP, the following news organizations have joined in the motion seeking release of the videos: the Orlando Sentinel, Scripps Media Inc. representing the Naples Daily News, the St. Lucie News Tribune, Stuart News, TCPalm.com, the Vero Beach Press Journal, WPTV-TV, WFTS-TV; and the SunSentinel Co.