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High court strikes down video voyeurism law

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  1. Libel and Privacy

    NMU         WISCONSIN         Privacy         Jul 6, 2000    

High court strikes down video voyeurism law

  • The state Supreme Court held that a video voyeurism law is overbroad and unconstitutional, and refused to uphold any of its provisions.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on June 28 ruled that a state video voyeurism law is unconstitutional and overbroad on its face, because it outlaws too much protected speech.

The high court reviewed the law in an appeal from a man who had been caught videotaping his ex-girlfriend through a window in 1997.

Scott Stevenson was convicted in 1998 in Waukesha Circuit Court for twice making a “videotape . . . that depicts nudity without the knowledge or consent of the person who is depicted nude.”

That provision of the law was constitutional, the high court said, but the law’s prohibition of videotaping any “other [such] visual representation or reproduction that depicts nudity” was not. The high court agreed with Stevenson that the law, taken as a whole, criminalizes many constitutionally protected images such as art, political cartoons and war photography where nudity is present.

But the high court declined the prosecution’s plea to adjust the law by removing parts and adding to other parts, saying it would require the legislature to rewrite the law.

“What he did should be illegal,” Stevenson’s lawyer, Daniel Fay told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This is a poorly, poorly drawn statute. You have 99 members in the Assembly and 33 state senators. You’d think they could pass a law that was properly written.”

Stevenson’s case was sent back to the circuit court for re-sentencing on the charge of obstructing an officer.

(Wisconsin v. Stevenson, Attorney: Daniel Fay, Pewaukee) DB

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