Media orgs fight for access to videos of Justin Bieber urinating

CBS Miami | Brennan Center for Justice

Media organizations including the Associated Press and CNN have petitioned a Miami/Dade court for access to videos that reportedly show Justin Bieber “during the time he was asked to provide a urine sample to Miami Beach Police as part of his DUI arrest on January 23rd,” CBS Miami reports.

My clients have no interest in seeing Mr. Bieber’s penis,” CBS Miami reports attorney Deanna Shullman told the court. The organizations contend that since the tapes were turned over to Bieber’s attorneys, they are public records. Defense attorneys “said the public doesn’t have any right to view the tapes in full and that what would determine if a privacy matter exists that overrides the public records law (Florida Sunshine Law) is the content of the subject matter,” CBS Miami reports.

Scott Ponce, a lawyer for the station and the Miami Herald, told the court “If part of a public record is exempt, you redact what is exempt and produce everything else.”

“It sounds like the defendant is urinating in them. I think the issue is do we see his penis or do we not? Under the public records rule, we redact what can be seen, and let the rest out. Put a black bar over it and let the rest out.”

Judge William Altfield plans to view the videos and then make a decision.

Bieber’s booking mugshots from January (AP Photo/Miami Dade County Jail)


By contrast, “To my knowledge, not a single national news organization has filed a single motion recently seeking to dissolve or at least diminish the great cloud of secrecy that has sprung up over the past few months over lethal injections in America,” Andrew Cohen writes.

No earnest media attorney, as near as I can tell, has gone to court in the past few months on behalf of a client to make the legitimate argument that the first amendment prohibits states from hiding critical information about the death penalty from the public, the media, or even from the condemned themselves. This is so even though the balancing test here is far less tricky than it is in L’Affaire Bieber. There are no fair trial concerns. Instead, on the one hand, there is a government interest in shielding from public scrutiny pharmacies that produce lethal drugs. And, on the other hand, there is the interest of the condemned in knowing what will be used to kill him and the interests of everyone else in knowing that a state is complying with its constitutional obligations.

Previously in Poynter’s Bieber coverage: Map of U.S. mugshot laws shows Justin Bieber should have partied in Seattle | How Miami Beach Police used Twitter to share Justin Bieber news

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.