Andrew Sanchez III, 60, is set to be booked in Bexar County Jail on one count of improper photography. A judge set bail at $7,500.
Police said the officer assigned to the American Cheer Power Southern National Championship at the Alamodome saw Sanchez videotaping the performers around 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The officer questioned Sanchez and determined he had no children in the contest.
Improper photography is one of three newish Texas penal statutes that violate Free Speech.
The first comment following the article illustrates why: “I don’t know what restrictions registered sex offenders are under. But it can’t be illegal for an ordinary citizen to film cheerleader practice.”
Yes, dear anonymous Chronicle commenter, it is indeed illegal for an ordinary citizen to film cheerleader practice…if a cop thinks the ordinary citizen has the intent to arouse or gratify someone’s sexual desire. Does that “if” make you feel safe? Remember, the cops questioned Sanchez (and thought they had enough suspicion to run his record) before knowing that he was a registered sex offender.
The Fourteenth Court of Appeals has upheld the “photography” aspect of the improper-photography statute (which also outlaws nonconsensual transmission or broadcast of images with prurient intent). The Court of Criminal Appeals denied discretionary review, to which Presiding Judge Sharon Keller dissented: “It is not enough to say that the statute is directed only at intent, if the intent consists of thought that is protected by the First Amendment.”
Keller ought to get another shot at convincing the court to review the statute. Sanchez’s case is in Bexar County, which is covered by the San Antonio Court of Appeals, so the opinion of the Houston-based Fourteenth Court of Appeals’ will not be binding on the trial court, and the court of appeals may be compelled, even before Sanchez pleads guilty or goes to trial, to determine whether the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.
(If you’re hired or appointed to represent Sanchez, bring me in as your Law Man.)