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Deval Patrick

Mass. ‘Upskirt Photo’ Ban Signed Into Law

A Massachusetts "upskirting" photo ban has been signed into law. Lawmakers passed the bill Thursday, in response to a ruling by the state's highest court that said a law aimed at criminalizing voyeurism did not apply to the taking of secret photos up a woman's skirt, CNN reports. Why did the court rule in favor of the upskirt photographer, and how will the new law address the issue? Gov. Signs Anti-'Upskirting' Bill Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill Friday, making photographing or recording video under a person's clothing -- for example, down a blouse or up a skirt -- a misdemeanor in Massachusetts, punishable by up to two and a half years in jail and a $5,000 fine. The law takes effect immediately, The Associated Press reports. As surprising as it might be, without the new law in place, the practice would not be illegal. The bill was drawn up and passed just one day after Massachusetts' highest court ruled that upskirting was not against the law. The court's decision hinged on the definition of "partial nudity." Mass. Supreme Judicial Court's 'Upskirt' Decision The ruling stemmed from the case against Michael Robertson, 32, who was arrested in 2010 and accused of using his cell phone to take pictures and record video up the skirts and dresses of women on the trolley. Robertson was arrested and charged with two counts of attempting to secretly photograph a person in a state of partial nudity. But the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Robertson's favor, saying Massachusetts law doesn't apply to people who are fully clothed. To fit into the definition of "partial nudity," one or more of a woman's private parts needed to be exposed in plain view at the time Robertson was secretly photographing (or videotaping) her, the court ruled. To fill this "partial nudity" loophole, state lawmakers designed a bill to address secret recordings up the skirts of fully clothed women. It was drawn up and passed literally one day after the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling and signed into law the following day. Given the swift action, it seems the court's ruling lit a fire under each lawmaker's fully clothed you-know-what. Related Resources: Legislature gives swift approval to voyeurism measure (The Boston Globe) Urologist Took Video Up Women's Skirts on NYC Subway, Cops Say (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Sheriff's Employee Caught Taking Upskirt Photos at Target (FindLaw's Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog) Unwanted Facebook Photo: Invasion of Privacy? (FindLaw's Injured)
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