Lawyers start trying to appeal social media influencer David Lesh’s conviction
Colorado influencer and entrepreneur David Lesh has been charged and convicted in federal court last fall for illegally operating a snowmobile at the Keystone Resort terrain park while the resort was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance on Tuesday filed a brief appealing Lesh’s conviction in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. His lawyers argued that prosecutors failed to prove his guilt, that the dock denied his right to a jury trial on criminal charges, that the court erred in allowing inadmissible evidence in evidence and that the US Forest Service’s interpretation of the law was incorrect. They said these questions violate the First Amendment and would raise serious non-delegation issues.
Lesh, owner of Virtika, an outdoor apparel company, posted a photo on his personal Instagram of someone snowmobiling at Keystone Ski Resort near Denver, along with the caption, “Solid ski sesh , no lift ticket necessary”. Prosecutors argued that the message proves that Mr. Lesh was in a prohibited section of the station on a particular date when the park was closed. Following a trial before a federal magistrate, he was sentenced to six months probation, 160 hours of community service and a total fine of $10,000..
The New Civil Liberties Alliance argued in its brief that the snowmobiler cannot be identified because the individual’s face is not visible. Representatives for Lesh said no brand names appeared on the individual’s clothing and that Virtika was not mentioned or tagged in the Instagram post, in addition to insufficient evidence proving the photo was taken at the date the area was not open to the public.
Additionally, the New Civil Liberties Alliance argued that Congress had not delegated authority to the Forest Service to prosecute someone for posting a photo on social media, thus interpreting the law to cover Mr. Lesh is unconstitutional.
Lawyers for the New Civil Liberties Alliance also claimed the court admitted hearsay evidence from a New York profile on Lesh.