A Tennessee court has overturned the convictions of a man who was charged with illegally photographing women after he admitted to following them around in stores and using a camera to photograph their breasts or genitals.
The New York Timesreported Tuesday that the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee in Knoxville ruled in late April that David Lambert’s three convictions for illegal photography should be thrown out due to his actions being protected by laws allowing photos and videos to be shot in public places. His conviction for attempted battery on one woman was upheld.
In his ruling, Judge James Curwood Witt Jr. said that the photos Lambert took of women in Walmart, Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree were protected by law and represented “unfortunately, a reality of daily life in our digital age.”
“When nearly every person goes about her day with a hand-held device capable of taking hundreds of photographs and videos and every public place is equipped with a wide variety of surveillance equipment, it is simply not reasonable to expect that our fully clothed images will remain totally private,” the judge wrote, according to the Times.
Lambert admitted to taking videos of women when confronted by police, but insisted that he never meant to cause harm to the women.
“I did not mean to scare anyone and only filmed the females for my own purposes,” he told police, according to the Times. “I just liked using the video function on my phone.”
“No evidence suggested that the defendant attempted to photograph the victim underneath her clothing,” added another judge on the appellate court in his own opinion on the ruling. “Indeed, a similar image could have been captured by surveillance equipment, although the Dollar Tree had none. Consequently, we conclude that the victim did not have a subjective expectation of privacy.”