Massachusetts set to ban “upskirt” photos after court ruling

posted at 10:01 am on March 7, 2014 by Dustin Siggins

Well, that was fast.

Earlier this week, a pervert managed to get away with “upskirt” photos — literally, photos taken looking up a woman’s skirt. The Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that since “upskirting” is not technically illegal in the state, he could not be charged:

“We conclude that (the law), as written, as the defendant suggests, is concerned with proscribing Peeping Tom voyeurism of people who are completely or partially undressed and, in particular, such voyeurism enhanced by electronic devices. (The law) does not apply to photographing (or videotaping or electronically surveilling) persons who are fully clothed and, in particular, does not reach the type of upskirting that the defendant is charged with attempting to accomplish on the MBTA,” read the decision.”At the core of the Commonwealth’s argument to the contrary is the proposition that a woman, and in particular a woman riding on a public trolley, has a reasonable expectation of privacy in not having a stranger secretly take photographs up her skirt. The proposition is eminently reasonable, but (the law) in its current form does not address it,” read the decision.

Yesterday, the state’s lawmakers passed legislation correcting the loophole. Governor Deval Patrick is expected to sign it into law.

In short, the law the pervert was charged with breaking only addresses those who take photos of women who are naked or partially clothed. Furthermore, because the women this guy harassed were in public, they did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Doug Mataconis comes to the correct, if unfortunate, conclusion that the Court made the right decision:

I agree generally with the principle that something like this should be against the law, but it seems to me that the Court was correct on the law here. As a general principle, people can only be convicted of a crime when they’ve actually committed an illegal act that is specifically defined in the law and, in this case, what Robinson was accused and convicted of did not comport with the statute under which he was charged. If the legislators in Massachusetts want to prevent this from happening again, they simply need to rewrite the law to cover the activities that Robinson was accused of committing.

Every so often, a silly loophole in a law — either found because of the fast movement of technology, such as what was seen in this case, or an ancient law that’s been ignored for years — gets exploited. Jazz suggested bloggers get involved with preventing this kind of situation in your state:

There’s a project for some of you state and local bloggers out there. Start a review of the existing, oldest laws and identify some of these same gaps and bring them to the attention of the legislature. Such issues will probably be most common in the original colony states on the east coast, but I’d bet there are a lot more of these waiting to be found out there.

Update (Ed): Without question, the behavior of the man at the center of this case was disgusting and intrusive. However, until a duly-elected legislature makes this kind of behavior illegal and a duly-elected governor assents to it, then it’s not illegal, and statutes shouldn’t be stretched to fit offensive-but-not-prohibited behaviors. This is a rare case, or at least seemingly so, where the balance of powers in government were respected and the right result achieved in the correct manner. The alternative — where police and prosecutors try to creatively stretch statutes to punish behavior no one has yet found unlawful — would undermine the rule of law and invest far too much power in the executive branch at the expense of the legislature, which is designed to be the “people’s branch.”

This may not result in justice against the upskirt photographer in this case, but it produces a law that can be carefully crafted to the specific behavior rather than give prosecutors carte blanche, plus prevents a lot more injustice in our future.

 

 

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What? MASSACHUSETTS of all places disagreeing with a kook judge?

Unpossible!

ConstantineXI on March 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

This is a rare case, or at least seemingly so, where the balance of powers in government were respected and the right result achieved in the correct manner

This. If the behavior is deplorable, but not covered by any law, then amending the law through the legislature is the proper way to go. We have had enough of courts acting as legislatures.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on March 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Does the PR of Mass have conceal carry, because it seems like a 1911 muzzle resting on a perv’s forehead would be quite the convincer that taking such photos is a really really bad idea.

Bishop on March 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Darn socons

Murphy9 on March 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Probably the first and only time I’ll say this but the MA Supreme Court made the right ruling here. No matter how reprehensible, the pervert was not breaking the law under which he was charged.

That being said, I do wonder about the quality of new legislation rushed through in hours with only pro forma review What else will be enacted as MA seeks to ban upskirting?

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Good, because the way the law was written the judge made the right call. Not to say the perv shouldn’t have his face smashed though.

major dad on March 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM

A court restraining itself and giving the right result for a law that is obviously lacking…instead of just legislating what the law should say…in MA of all places?

Are pigs flying?

Oh, and this is the way things are supposed to work – the elected branches pass the laws and if they haven’t, well, the courts can’t just make it up as they go…

18-1 on March 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Are pigs flying?

18-1 on March 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Yes! Michelle Obama is headed with her spouse to Miami and then a long weekend in the Florida Keys.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Whew, I can still wear my wife’s minis without seeing pics of my goods on the internet. Heading off to the wife’s closet as I type.

HonestLib on March 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

The court made the right ruling, and the legislature is now taking the right course of action.

The only thing which is atrocious is that it took Massachusetts this long to put a stop to these perverts.

Stoic Patriot on March 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM

bwahahahahahahahahaha

The legislation says anyone who “photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils” another person’s sexual or intimate parts without that person’s consent would face a misdemeanor charge and a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The crime becomes a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for photographs or recordings of a child under 18. Distributing such photos would carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Murray said those who take such photos sometimes post them on pornographic websites.

So would the following picture would be illegal

http://imgick.pennlive.com/home/penn-media/width620/img/midstate_impact/photo/upskirting-legal-massjpg-fadb5d17a727de4a.jpg

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:30 AM

According to Obama/Holder, you can just ignore parts of the law that you don’t like.

faraway on March 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Yes! Michelle Obama is headed with her spouse to Miami and then a long weekend in the Florida Keys.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I laughed.

Bitter Clinger on March 7, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Would this be illegal?

faraway on March 7, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Yikes….. no more wal mart pictures from massachusetts

http://media.peopleofwalmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/6013.jpg

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Yikes….. no more wal mart pictures from massachusetts

http://media.peopleofwalmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/6013.jpg

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Eye bleach please!!

Bitter Clinger on March 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM

We gotta protect the chil’ren

http://k36.kn3.net/AA1ECC1F2.jpg

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:40 AM

http://media.peopleofwalmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/6013.jpg

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:37 AM

15 yard penalty

faraway on March 7, 2014 at 10:41 AM

This has happened in other states, unfortunately. It’s incumbent on legislatures to fix this ASAP, or the citizens will be justified in taking the law into our own hands. I’m just glad that in Texas and the other free states it’s easy for women to carry guns.

juliesa on March 7, 2014 at 10:42 AM

In a sane world, this is the same way that Obamacare should have been changed.

Why didn’t the governor issue an executive order to make looking up skirts illegal?

airupthere on March 7, 2014 at 10:43 AM

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Why would that photo be illegal?

Given the fact that it’s simply a frontal shot of a skirt, it does not fit any definition of upskirting.

Solaratov on March 7, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Waiting for ruling from the House of Kennedy? The ruling is “Yay” for upshots of Commonwealth wenches.

Hening on March 7, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Will everyone that visits the website TMZ or DailyCaller be subject to arrest?

faraway on March 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Does anyone have a link to the actual new language in the law? Since it is a blue state, I anticipate that they took full advantage an made the text unnecessarily vague as to leave enforcement up to prosecutorial discretion. Future democrat politicians who run afoul of this law have to have an out.

airupthere on March 7, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Some how I don’t think the criminal is the person taking the picture

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/62808/goodies/

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 10:48 AM

What exactly does a photo of a strange woman’s underpants or upper thighs mean to these weirdos? It’s not like there isn’t a ton of photos available to gaze at in mags or the ‘net.
I would imagine to the woman who’s the victim of this perv, she feels violated by a stranger taking photos of her private parts without her consent.
If my daughters, or granddaughters were the victim of such a man, well…..

srdem65 on March 7, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Glenn Beck is talking about this right now, and says the judge’s decision is unconstitutional. The constitution says we have the right to be secure in our person and our possessions, and up skirt photos clearly violate that. He makes the point that we don’t need new legislation to cover these new technology issues since they are clearly wrong under the constitution, especially since SCOTUS has affirmed a right to “privacy”. And BTW, where is NOW on this?

juliesa on March 7, 2014 at 10:52 AM

The massholes from Taxachusetts have had smoke blown up their arses for so long .. you wouldn’t think they’d mind this! SecState, the haughty Jawn “where’d I park my yacht” Kerry, who served in Vietnam, is OUTRAGED that his lawyer buddies are acting in a 19th century fashion by thinking the law could curb peeping tom and lewd and lascivious behavior by libidinous libtards! I mean, what did The SWIMMER die for, if not to ensure equality of pervality for EVERYONE! Well, at least those whose names start with a K and end in a Y. Dukaki would be spinning in their tanks over this one! And where’s Ed Malarky on this one?! Inspiring minds want to know?

GKChesterton99 on March 7, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Will everyone that visits the website TMZ or DailyCaller be subject to arrest?

faraway on March 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

That reminds me, huffington post used to devote about 1/3 of their front page to nip slips and crotch shots of models who tripped on the runway. Talk about a War on Women.

juliesa on March 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM

What ever happened to horsewhipping?

butch on March 7, 2014 at 10:57 AM

What is the very liberal, Elizabeth Warren’s, stance?

Wade on March 7, 2014 at 10:58 AM

When you jetison the law of God and its source, you don’t get “no law.” You get a bunch of little laws to make up the lack.

al sends

afterdarknesslight on March 7, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Hmmm: Wonder if the Saudi “legislature” is on this case yet? But there, one would have to use a flash to up-burqa.

OCULUS on March 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Is the criminal really the photographer

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/62776/double-pleasure/

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Would this be illegal?

faraway on March 7, 2014 at 10:35 AM

It should be! I ain’t talking about the picture either.

Oldnuke on March 7, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Thank Gawd the law is protecting men too

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/photos/page/5/

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 7, 2014 at 11:14 AM

…the kilts are going to have to come off?

KOOLAID2 on March 7, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Darn socons

Murphy9 on March 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Stop shoving YOUR morality down my throat!/

melle1228 on March 7, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Glenn Beck is talking about this right now, and says the judge’s decision is unconstitutional. The constitution says we have the right to be secure in our person and our possessions, and up skirt photos clearly violate that. He makes the point that we don’t need new legislation to cover these new technology issues since they are clearly wrong under the constitution, especially since SCOTUS has affirmed a right to “privacy”. And BTW, where is NOW on this?

juliesa on March 7, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Yeah but the Judge “ruled” that women did not have an expectation of privacy up their skirts in a public place.

melle1228 on March 7, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Woody Allen is pretty upset, he was planning on moving to Massechusetts.

Sven on March 7, 2014 at 11:41 AM

What exactly does a photo of a strange woman’s underpants or upper thighs mean to these weirdos? It’s not like there isn’t a ton of photos available to gaze at in mags or the ‘net.
I would imagine to the woman who’s the victim of this perv, she feels violated by a stranger taking photos of her private parts without her consent.
If my daughters, or granddaughters were the victtim of such a man, well…..

srdem65 on March 7, 2014 at 10:51 AM

It is a chance to find someone going commando or in a very small thong. I would imagine it is the thrill of doing it i.e., violating a woman’s private space and not getting caught.

melle1228 on March 7, 2014 at 11:42 AM

The court made the right ruling, and the legislature is now taking the right course of action.

The only thing which is atrocious is that it took Massachusetts this long to put a stop to these perverts.

Stoic Patriot on March 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM

They passed a new law THE DAY AFTER the old one was found unconstitutional. This was the first case where someone got off, no prior perverts had successfully taken appeals up to the SJC.

eski502 on March 7, 2014 at 11:42 AM

No matter how reprehensible, the pervert was not breaking the law under which he was charged.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM

I agree whole-heartedly, but I have a question*: Is this sort of thing against the law without the use of electronics? If I put a mirror on the floor and slide it under a woman so I can see up her skirt, is that illegal? If it isn’t, then they might want to consider a law founded on a broader principle when they ‘fix’ the current situation. If it is, then why wasn’t the perv charged under that law as well?

On the other hand, laying on the floor or sliding a mirror under there would tend to have a more immediate and visceral response than being charged with a crime.

* The question isn’t directed at you, HN, but is asked in general.

GWB on March 7, 2014 at 11:43 AM

When the feminists shriek, real modern men jump into action.

Nomennovum on March 7, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Massachusetts set to ban “upskirt” photos after court ruling

Meanwhile, Hah-vahd introduced a new course, “The Art of Upskirt Photography And Why You Are a Bigot If You Don’t Call Upskirt Photographers ‘Normal’”.

In related news, the SCOTASS has ruled that professional photographers must take upskirt photos if a perverted client pays them to do so. Equal protection and all … for the art.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 7, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Boy, this quick action in passing a new law gives me hope that maybe we can soon pass a law making the surreptitious crossing of our borders by aliens illegal.

I am proud of the Senate for taking action today to restore a women’s [sic] right to privacy,” said Murray.

Well! There you go. Now, when do I get a right to privacy?

Nomennovum on March 7, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Can’t Obama just “amend” Obamacare to outlaw this behavior?

SoRight on March 7, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Will this law apply to camel toe pics of women in yoga pants?

Pics of highbeams on a cold day?

Shots of sun bathers on a nude beach?

Miley Cyrus in her Daisy Dukes?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Via the good old slippery slope.

Don’t get me wrong, though. The women must be protected with the full force of the law in all circumstances. Men are pigs.

Nomennovum on March 7, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Finally… legislation to help control the Kennedys (and visiting Clintoon).

viking01 on March 7, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Will this law apply to camel toe pics of women in yoga pants?

Pics of highbeams on a cold day?

Shots of sun bathers on a nude beach?

Miley Cyrus in her Daisy Dukes?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Via the good old slippery slope.

Don’t get me wrong, though. The women must be protected with the full force of the law in all circumstances. Men are pigs.

Nomennovum on March 7, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Here here. Lets return to the Victorian era. Head to toe coverage, no public bathing (beach, pool, or otherwise), corsets and all that.

No, wait. We don’t have to return to anything. All thats needed is to adopt Islam. Burqas for everyone! (Except men)

BobMbx on March 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM

TECHNICAL?

It is, or it is NOT. Pick one.

TX-96 on March 7, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Only in a far left liberal nanny state like Massachusetts would this be a requirement. I guess when you are that stupid you must spell out every possible item that could be objectionable to ANY civilized person and not cater to the perverts in society.
Common sense does not exist in the liberal mind.

Talk about “War on Women”, this kind of stupidity could only happen in a Democratic controlled state.

John21 on March 7, 2014 at 3:39 PM

I can live with an upskirt restriction, but I sure hope downblouse photos are still okay. Otherwise, a lot of television programs will be off the air.

Colony14 on March 7, 2014 at 4:24 PM

WTF – The courts have decided. It’s “settled law”, just like Roe v Wade. I have a right to upskirt pictures…

Kuffar on March 7, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Only the State is allowed to spy upon and photograph your private areas, sillies.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM