Justin Bieber's manager Scott "Scooter" Braun and his legal team were back in court yesterday to argue that Braun's reckless endangerment charges stemming from a Long Island, New York mall incident should be withdrawn. At the hearing, Braun's lawyer Ravi Batra argued Nassau County police and mall security were to blame for a melee that began when Bieber canceled a CD signing and that Braun was simply doing what police asked him to do. The defense is also hoping to have the arrest expunged from Braun's record and is working with the District Attorney's office to suspend the case and reopen the investigation.
As Rolling Stone previously reported, Bieber's CD signing at Garden City's Roosevelt Field on November 20th, 2009 was nixed after thousands of teenage girls, a crowd that far exceeded initial expectations, descended on the mall with the hopes of seeing Bieber. Sensing a potential problem, police ordered Braun to send out a tweet through Bieber's Twitter account that alerted fans the signing had been canceled. However, things eventually became chaotic at the mall, resulting in injuries to five minors and police claimed Braun didn't tweet quickly enough. Braun pleaded not guilty to the charges after he was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and obstruction of governmental administration in March.
"Based upon the facts as we know them, the charges should really be withdrawn and the arrest expunged because the people in charge of security — Simon Malls [the company that owns Roosevelt Field], not Justin Bieber, not Scooter Braun — felt they had zero role in security," Batra tells Rolling Stone. From the onset, the mall seemed ill prepared for the Bieber fan invasion: While an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 fans were expected, the store hosting the event only had 1,200 albums in stock.
"At 4:23 p.m. on the 20th of November, a police officer told Scooter, who was in Manhattan — not in Nassau County, so it was outside Nassau jurisdiction — to send out a tweet, and the officer said if Scooter didn't do it within 10 minutes, he was not only going to arrest an Island Def Jam guy, Jim Roppo, but also put out a warrant for Scooter's arrest. Imagine if you were in Tokyo, and a Nassau County cop could tell you what to do," Batra tells RS. The prosecution claims that Braun waited roughly 90 minutes before obeying the Nassau police's order, but Batra says Braun tweeted about the cancellation just seven minutes after he was instructed.
"Only after Scooter Braun honored the police instruction, in seven minutes, were there any injuries, because only after the tweet went out that the police wanted to go out, that Justin's not coming, that's when the kids dispersed and were no longer controllable," Batra says.
Braun's next scheduled hearing is July 16th, but he and his defense team will continue their discussions with the Nassau County District Attorney to have the charges withdrawn. Still, the precedence of the case is intriguing to Batra. "This is the first Twitter arrest in history, so it brings up very beautiful and novel and important questions of the law," Batra tells RS. "The law is a beautiful thing, perhaps even more beautiful than music, so I expect this to have a happy ending."