- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Ten cases involving so-called “revenge porn” have been going nowhere because Arizona lawmakers failed to amend the law in their last session, Maricopa County’s top prosecutor said this week.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said his office can’t prosecute these cases because of an ongoing court challenge to the law. Lawmakers in 2014 passed legislation that makes it a crime for jilted lovers to post nude photos of their former partners online.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law last year as unconstitutional, saying it violated First Amendment rights. The law is on hold while the state and the ACLU try to settle their dispute. A federal judge will hear arguments in August if the dispute still isn’t resolved.

“Criminal prosecuting agencies have basically entered an understanding with (the ACLU) that we’re not going to prosecute under the statute as is,” Montgomery said.

Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said he sponsored a bill addressing the ACLU’s concerns, but the session ended before the Senate could vote. The legislation was approved across the board in the House last April. But the session adjourned two days later, the Arizona Capitol Times reported (http://bit.ly/1KkViWv ).

“Unfortunately in the waning days of session, it got lost among a few other bills, and it wasn’t addressed before the legislative session ended. So we need to get that fixed,” Montgomery said.

Mesnard said until the Legislature can return and amend the revenge porn law, “we’re kind of in this purgatory situation.” If Gov. Doug Ducey calls a special session before then, Mesnard said he will push to have the bill reconsidered and approved with an emergency clause so it can take immediate effect.

Yet there’s no telling if prosecutors could file again if the law were to suddenly be allowed to take effect. The county attorney can only file charges under the law in effect at the time of the offense, said Jerry Cobb, Montgomery’s spokesman.

For now, half of the 10 cases have been sent to municipalities so prosecutors can try prosecuting under misdemeanor statutes. In another three cases, other felony charges have been filed based on the evidence. But Montgomery’s office had to drop the remaining two because of the law’s status.

Ten cases “may not sound like a lot. But I think that just reflects a fraction of the overall cases, because I’m sure that there are many more that haven’t been submitted to the office for review because of awareness by law enforcement that there are problems from the statute,” Montgomery said.

___

Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide