A judge said Thursday he will review police video made shortly after Justin Bieber’s recent Miami Beach arrest to determine if some portions should be withheld from the public, particularly clips depicting the singer urinating into a cup as part of a drug test.
Miami-Dade County Judge William Altfield said after a hearing he will privately review some of the roughly 10 hours of Miami Beach police video taken after Bieber’s Jan. 23 arrest. The Associated Press, The Miami Herald and other media organizations are seeking release of the video, arguing there is no exemption in Florida’s generous open records law allowing it to be kept under wraps.
“The right of privacy cannot trump the right of access to public records,” said Deanna Shullman, the attorney for the AP and several other media outlets. “My clients have no interest in showing Mr. Bieber’s private parts. You have to redact that and release the rest.”
Still, Shullman and Scott Ponce, who represents the Herald and Miami’s CBS affiliate, agreed with Altfield’s plan to review the four clips that show Bieber urinating into the cup, as did state prosecutors. Bieber attorney Howard Srebnick said he found it “insulting” that the videos could be released perhaps with only Bieber’s nether regions censored, contending even that was a violation of privacy.
“There’s no reason why the media should make a spectacle of that event,” Srebnick said.
Altfield said he would hold another hearing on the matter March 4, meaning the current March 3 trial date for Bieber will be delayed. But he said if the various sides could agree on release of non-objectionable video material, that should be done by Wednesday.
“It’s prudent for us to make sure we’re all on the same page, all of us,” he said.
Bieber, 19, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license. Police say he and singer Khalil Amir Sharieff were stopped after a suspected illegal street drag race in exotic sports cars in a quiet Miami Beach neighborhood.
The toxicology test based on Bieber’s urine sample found the active ingredient in marijuana and the antidepressant Xanax. A breath test, however, showed Bieber’s blood-alcohol content was below Florida’s 0.02 percent limit for underage drivers.
The other news organizations advocating for release of the video are: 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 and WFTS-TV; and the SunSentinel Co.