Wedding Photographer Charged With Violating Coronavirus Emergency Order After Shooting Ceremony

A New Jersey wedding photographer was charged with violating a coronavirus emergency order after police caught him photographing a ceremony, with a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Lakewood Police and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office charged Yakov Makukha along with six adult attendees with violating the state coronavirus emergency order. The incident happened on April 21, when Lakewood Police were called to investigate a backyard wedding. Officers responding to the scene found a family in a van in the driveway, who informed them that they were there for family photos for the wedding. Upon entering the backyard, police found Makukha photographing a family of six people.

Subsequently, officers issued summonses to all the adults present (anyone who was not charged with anything else was simply issued a summons instead of being arrested). The violations are classified as a disorderly conduct offense and carry a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Many states have ongoing orders heavily restricting the size of gatherings and the sort of services that can be rendered at this time in an effort to curtail the rate of spread of the coronavirus pandemic. As of May 13, the United States has had almost 1.4 million confirmed cases and approximately 84,000 deaths due to the virus. 

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Thomas McTear's picture

Will any of these charges hold up in court? Perhaps under the state and not federal level I suppose... Do orders supersede laws?

Ben Harris's picture

I think you are missing the point...

microteck's picture

Enlighten me Ben.

Ben Harris's picture

The point is that they are endangering themselves and others by being at a gathering during this time, in the country with the highest rates of infection. It is idiotic.
The parties involved need to accept that they did the wrong thing and not be so selfish in future. Wondering if the fine would hold up in court is of the same mindset as the person who ignores the public health directive in the first place.

Sean Scarmack's picture

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow, how did you say that with a straight face? Are you a actor? You deserve an Oscar lmao

Benoit Pigeon's picture

What does that mean?

Daniel Medley's picture

Without getting coming down on one side or the other, it's doubtful they will/would hold up in court.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers' order shutting down daily life to limit the spread of coronavirus — marking the first time a statewide order of its kind has been knocked down by a court of last resort."

I suspect that as more and more people push back, you will see these "orders" being overturned by courts.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Urge to marry...

sam dasso's picture

What is most troubling that there was a snitch that called cops on people getting married in their own backyard. Another question is - did cops have a search warrant to enter private property?

Ben Harris's picture

Really? I would 100% alert the authorities. Containment only works if we all work together to prevent the spread.
Thousands of other people have put off their own weddings and all sorts of important events- what makes these people so special? Yep, no qualms calling that one in.

Don Fadel's picture

Except it doesn't work does it. First of all there is that pesky First Amendment. Secondly, in NY - right next door - ⅔ of patients were in isolation and still got it. So there's that. And not every state controls your life like that - with much better results than states like NJ or NY.

Alfonse Diantonio's picture

The 1st amendment isn’t pesky, Mr. Fadle! It’s great. Why did you make fun of the constitution when talking about Corona? I don’t understand. Is Corona in the Bill of right? I checked it on google and it doesn’t say anything about viruses in it. This doesn’t make sense. Please explain! Thanks!

Kai Fredriksen's picture

Not being American I was under the impression that the 1st Amendment does not play into this at all.
Nothing stops you from getting married, so its not a restriction of your religious rights and well, it can`t be that right to assembly either.

Curious to see how you make this a First Amendment issue.

Daniel Medley's picture

The first amendment, in simple terms, protects several basic freedoms in the United States including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government.

The key here with respect to what you're asking is, "the right to assemble." Keep in mind that the Bill of Rights is not a list of permissions for people. It's a list of restrictions on what government can do.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

So you would be perfectly okay with a group of contagious sick people exercising their right to assemble in your living room. After all, the right to assemble is in the First Amendment.

Steve White's picture

Of course not. But they can assemble in THEIR living room.

Daniel Medley's picture

Huh? Why the strawman?

David Butler II's picture

Erpillar Bendy, You are a total idiot with your comment.... Grow up!

Kai Fredriksen's picture

The right of assembly does not come into play here unless that marriage is a form of political protest against the government. Which I somehow find very unlikely. From what I gather, it has never been successfully used to say that the government can not limit assembly from a public health/safety perspective.

From the law library:

The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the First Amendment protects the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly.[3] The right to assemble is not, however, absolute. Government officials cannot simply prohibit a public assembly in their own discretion,[4] but the government can impose restrictions on the time, place, and manner of peaceful assembly, provided that constitutional safeguards are met.[5] Time, place, and manner restrictions are permissible so long as they “are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech.

The First Amendment does not provide the right to conduct an assembly at which there is a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, or interference with traffic on public streets or other immediate threat to public safety or order.

Keyword being public safety.

Still don´t see how the 1st Amendment plays into this at all.

Daniel Medley's picture

I don't see any qualifiers in the general term, "right to assembly".

Kai Fredriksen's picture

From the text, I copy-pasted above the Supreme court seems to disagree with you, and so does basically every text on the topic, sometimes a general text has a very specific meaning or intention and you have to understand that too. It is not enough to go "oh yeah, I read the one sentence and to me that means XYZ and therefore that is universal."

For easy access, let me copy-paste it once more:

"The First Amendment does not provide the right to conduct an assembly at which there is a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, or interference with traffic on public streets or other immediate threat to public safety or order."

"The right to assemble is not, however, absolute. "

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress"

That ", and to petition the government for a redress" has meaning too, you can`t just skip past that part because it does not fit your narrative.

"broadly declared the outlines of the right of assembly. “The right of the people peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances, or for anything else connected with the powers or the duties of the National Government."

But hey, perhaps the marriage and photography of it was a way to petition congress for a redress of grievances...

Daniel Medley's picture

"Clear and present danger" is shifting as data comes in vis a vis COVID-19. I never said that the right to assembly is absolute. You asked a question, how does the first amendment play into this? I answered it. No need to read any more into it.

I didn't skip past anything. Punctuation matters. As the first amendment is written, there are no qualifiers for what is and what isn't "assembly." Now, the courts can determine how far it goes, but again, there aren't qualifiers.

And what exactly is my narrative? How would you know what my "narrative" is? I didn't present a narrative. I'm simply answering a question accurately. I'm not coming down on one side or the other.


I said nothing about how the first amendment is interpreted by the courts. Just answered a question. And I stand by the fact that the first amendment does not include qualifiers. It's up to the courts to determine how it may or may not apply to this particular situation.

Kai Fredriksen's picture

You present a narrative of "This should not have happened, due to the 1st amendment, and it is a first 1st amendment issue as it lacks any qualifiers."

It might not be a gripping narrative that draws crowds to the cinema, but its a narrative still.

The courts in the US, part of what they do, is to cut through ambiguity and make intentions and meaning clear. This is especially important when it comes to the constitution. You can`t go and say "I interpret the right of assembly is without qualifiers and that is how it is. "When the courts have at several times made it clear that this assumption is incorrect, starting at least as far back as in the 1870s.

As to the "Is Covid-19 a clear and present danger or not" argument. Thats.... just terrifying that you pull up that argument. Why that is terrifying is right there in your own wording "danger."
Not "Is it clear that this thing we now want to stop has been dangerous. Danger implies that bad things can happen, not that they already must have happened.

Daniel Medley's picture

Again, you're claiming I said something I didn't. I didn't argue or insinuate that COVID-19 isn't a clear and present danger. I just stated the FACT that the extent to which it is a clear and present danger is shifting as more data is acquired. I don't have a narrative. YOU do. It's obvious by your display of intellectual dishonesty.

I'll just allow you to have the last word as you exemplify the Dunning-Kruger effect in action.

Have a good day.

Kai Fredriksen's picture

From reading your replies it is safe to say we both exemplify the Dunning-Kruger effect in action.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

You mean states and cities that barely see any tourism, don't have 3000 planes passing through daily, many from all over the world. Better results when your population is not exposed to much mass transit is beyond expectation, but thanks for pointing at it captain obvious.

Steve White's picture

To Ben "Karen" Harris -- you appear to be the kind of person who would rat out Anne Frank.

Dan Howell's picture

I thought the state guidelines were groups of less than 10. Seems like that situation was within guidelines.

Christian Fiore's picture

The rules in NJ change every day. And then they're deleted afterwards. The governor even said he never said anything about a curfew, yet he did just that in mid-March, right before quarantine. The worst possible politician to have running the state at a time like this.

Nada Ivanova's picture

i pitty people who did book evrything from years to make their wedding and finally get in such shit time. i do understand they dont want to pospone. but i find it not normal for photographer to go cover such event in that kind of time. sadly we was/are many that can not work.but i prefer lose some money than getting that sickeness or worse passing it to my familly

Andrew Pollock's picture

Wait, you had six people fined (backyard people), six people summoned (van people). If they were in the van separately from the backyard people, they're under the limit. Assuming the backyard was an Officiant, Bride, Groom, Bride Parents, Groom Parents, and photographer (6 people) then everyone but the Officiant and photographer are already living under the same roof (presumably) and would have been potentially exposed at the same time. We don't know the relations of the van people so can't make any assumption of infection rate with them. Just curious if the Bride and Groom are going to be kept separated by the State because they're not related except by marriage. End of the day, had they done this at a Walmart aisle or the local grocery store, they'd have been just fine. NJ is a stickler for the rules which is hard to deal with.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

New Jersey has 9,500 covid-19 deaths so far.

Steve White's picture

Most of which have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living which NJ was slow to protect. I'm not aware of any significant number of deaths from backyard weddings, but perhaps I missed something.

Stephen Holst's picture

disregard my comment. Misread the response

Studio 403's picture

Pathetic big brother doing overreach. If all agree to social distance things and all other "cleaning" protocols let her rip.
Folks lets have some balance and not acquiesce our legal freedoms from my perception, government ego's gone bad.

Alex Kartashov's picture

And this ladies and gentlemen is why the USA has the highest number of cases in the world. Americans.

E S's picture

And this, ladies and gentlemen is why most of the world wants to live in the USA, to be Americans!

fixed it for you!

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Used to, racism, gun shots, extreme right, crazy gun lovers. Not sure many want to live in USA anymore ;)

Christian Fiore's picture

I'm pretty sure Americans don't want people like you in the USA, either.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Yep definitely, i wouldn't be align with any of those ideals....

Just to clarify, not all americans are like that, but is a very strong stereotype that they have recently earned, (Trump, racism, shootings) and reason for which the "I want to live in america dream" is way gone, at least for educated people.

Christian Fiore's picture

It's funny, because almost all of the worst areas in the country are run by Democrats, the supposed opposite of the usual American stereotype. And the stereotypical American people don't even live in those areas.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Actually you would be surprise, how badly americans are looked upon now a days on the rest of the world.

Christian Fiore's picture

It's been like that for a long time. Though the Chinese are certainly making a name for themselves via some of their obnoxious tourists.

Ben Harris's picture

Couldn’t agree more, it’s so absurd. People are dying of a virus, and response seems to be to argue about the constitution? 😂

Studio 403's picture

If you take our whole population in context, our total death rate is very low (of course one death is too much). A lot of American values derive from our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. America for sure has many faults. At stake, Our Governors do not have the legal authority to take legal actions this is not granted. The essence of law, if a governor can violate the late, we as Americans can do the same if one is looking for a level playing field. Notwithstanding, I hope all Americans go by the guidelines issued by governors and mayors. However, Government leaders should make appeals, not laws for obedience. The right to disagree and civil disobedience is righteous. I hope for balance in my state.

Let me give you an absurd order. No one can read Fstoppers or buy any tutorials for 6 months. Why?. I deem it too stressful and can hurt your eyes. Since a lot of photographers are out of work, you are not to spend any money on camera gear or anything related to photography. Absurd? of course. I admit this is not a fair comparison. But many American's feel this way about shutting down a business, etc.

Another Username's picture

I am perfectly fine with people assembling and disobeying the orders that are in place for their safety. I don’t think they should be fined if they break these orders either.

But I also don’t think they should be helped if they get sick.

After was your choice ....You are a free person..... and you can tell that to your family while gasping for air FaceTiming them while you die alone.

It’s that simple. Don’t use the resources reserved for those who DID follow the guidelines.

sam dasso's picture

Good idea. Also lets refuse medical help to people who are overweight, smokers or alcohol and pot users. Lets not provide medical help to people who engage in risky activity like mountain climbers, bike riders or people who engage in unprotected sex. And don't forget people who don't follow guidelines and don't eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Studio 403's picture

you got my vote next election. lovely parody, nice

Studio 403's picture

oh you are nasty mr "username" , what a cheap shot even not to disclose your real name. I give no thoughts who post in this manner