- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas’ top criminal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a large part of the state law banning the taking of photos or videos in public without the consent of the subject for the purpose of sexual gratification.

By an 8-1 vote, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the decision of an intermediate state appeals court, ruling that the state ban on “improper photography” is too broad and violated First Amendment free-speech rights.

The court majority found that anyone who appears in public surrenders protection from being the object of sexual fantasies. However, the 38-page ruling written by Presiding Judge Sharon Keller and filed Wednesday does not invalidate the state ban on secret photography of people in bathrooms or private dressing rooms, where a person is presumed to have privacy.

Only Judge Lawrence Meyers dissented, and he did so without releasing an opinion.

The ruling came in the Bexar County case of Ronald Thompson, who had been awaiting trial on 26 counts of improper photography. He was charged with photographing women at a water park wearing bikinis and bathing suits of various styles and colors, each described in computer images as an “unknown female.”

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