Monday, October 16, 2006

People v. Rutter (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 16, 2006)

Coincidentally, I (randomly) found out about this lawsuit last week, and was sufficiently intrigued that I spent five minutes looking up the details. Then, today, in an otherwise boring day in the California Court of Appeal -- which was nonetheless massively more interesting than the Ninth Circuit, which published utterly nothing (yet again) today -- I stumbled across this opinion by Justice Johnson. And, no, I did not stumble across the lawsuit last week based upon a google search for "Naked pictures of Cameron Diaz". That said, that is precisely what the underlying action is about. (By the way, if you clicked on the above link, which is the first result of the above-mentioned google search: Shame on you. Double shame on you if you lingered.)

Actually, there's a civil suit by Ms. Diaz as well, but this opinion is about the criminal theft, forgery, and perjury conviction of the photographer, John Rutter. Rutter shot some topless photos of Diaz when she was a 19-year old model, and then contacted her shortly before the release of Charlie's Angels in an attempt to "sell" her the photos for $3.5 million (read: extort money out of her in return for not releasing the photos). But she doesn't bite, and instead contacts the police. Eventually, Rutter gets criminally charged, not for extortion -- a more difficult offense to prove -- but rather for forging Cameron's signature on an alleged release (and then for lying about the purported authenticity of the signature under penalty of perjury during the civil suit).

Anyway, Rutter gets convicted, appeals, and then loses again. So it's the pokey for Rutter. Which invariably happens, I think, once you view Cameron's boobs. Sort of an Arc of Covenant thing.

This isn't the greatest opinion ever by Justice Johnson. Which is somewhat surprising given its high profile nature; you'd think he'd have gone all out on this one. His discussion of the alleged harmlessness of the error in the jury instructions is particularly weak, even if his ultimate conclusion may perhaps be correct (though I'm not even entirely sure about that).

Regardless, it's a salacious tale of a celebrity's body, all condensed into a mere ten double spaced pages. Not an erotic thriller, to be sure, but if you've got nothing else to do on a rainy Monday afternoon, it's definitely worth the price of admission.

P.S. - For a look at what's in store for Rutter, take a look at one of his more famous photographs.