Halle Berry says she will go directly to President Obama to seek help passing laws to protect children from paparazzi after an incident last week in which she lost her cool when photographers came uncomfortably close to her daughter, Nahla.
The Oscar-winning actress was caught on camera as she lost her temper outside a Los Angeles school Thursday, yelling at photographers, “I’m doing something honorable. I’m not harassing people.”
Berry, 45, has since said that she regrets losing her temper, but also revealed her new plan to take her plight straight to the top of the federal government.
“There are no laws here that protect our children and, as a mom coming to the school … not only my child, but all the children that are there. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong,” Berry told “Extra.”
“You know, I think I’m going to call Obama and say, ‘Look, can you help us? I know this seems like a little issue right now, but it’s a big issue in our lives and our lives at the school and our children being protected,’” she added.
Berry, however, appears to be unaware of the myriad of laws that have already been put in place to protect her and her child from such unwanted intrusions from paparazzi. California’s 10-year-old anti-paparazzi statute, for instance, was given added traction two years ago.
The original statute, which came in the wake of Princess Diana’s death in Paris as she was being followed by paparazzi, expanded the reach of the California trespass law when it created a civil damages cause of action for three tactics commonly used by paparazzi to gain photos and footage of stars.
The stature first made actionable the “physical invasion of privacy law,” which created damages when a person enters another’s property to record an image, video or sound. Secondly, it created a new statutory tort that functions as a “technological trespass” law, which makes photographers liable if they use an enhancing device to record from afar, such as a telephoto lens or parabolic microphones. Thirdly, the stature made actionable any assault “committed with the intent to capture” images, video or sound.
The 2010 additions stipulated that media outlets using material proven to have been published using such invasive tactics would be subject to special damages, punitive damages and a civil fine ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.
All these laws on California’s books have been put in place to protect celebrities like Berry from situations like the one that occurred in L.A. Thursday.
First Amendment attorney and partner in the Los Angeles office of Loeb & Loeb LLP Douglas E. Mirell says that Berry has a number of options on the local and state levels at her disposal before taking her problem to Washington.
“She should first report the incident to local law enforcement authorities – police or sheriff,” Mirell says. “[They] would then investigate and bring the matter to the city attorney or district attorney’s office for prosecution, either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the precise nature of the conduct.
“Alternatively, or in addition, she could engage a lawyer in private practice to file suit in state court,” he added.
As for the photographers, they are well within their rights on public streets to shoot photos and video of Berry, her child, or anyone else.
“She may be the one who could be subject to criminal action. If you assault a photographer, she could wind up being the one who is actually criminalized,” former prosecutor Robin Sax told “Good Morning America.”
Berry is no stranger to taking legal action to protect herself.
She filed a criminal complaint in 2008 against a photo agency that, she claimed, was circulating pictures of her and her daughter pictured in their backyard. And a man who had previously served a 10-year prison sentence for threatening to kill Madonna was taken into custody in February after allegedly stalking Berry for a week that month.