Earlier today we reported on gay activist and blogger Michael Petrelis' arrest stemming from an incident in which he photographed Supervisor Scott Wiener in a City Hall men's room, then posted the picture on his blog.
The arrest was referred to on Petrelis' site as “an act of heavy-handed political retribution.” That's one way of looking at it. Another, says Professor Mort Cohen, is that you shouldn't attempt to snap photos of people urinating and then admit to it on the internet.
Petrelis is being charged with violating Section 647(j) of the penal code, which deals with spying on or recording someone in an “area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy.” Cohen says a men's room counts here — but not in every circumstance. And if Petrelis hadn't crowed about his accomplishment — in writing — the Golden Gate University law prof says it'd be much harder to charge him with a crime.