YouTube videos in question as effective evidence in courts

By Christine Adolf
April 2, 2009

Megan Pellegrino

In a recent study, YouTube was the main subject and whether it should be allowed to be used in the supreme court.

The videos show what is either unspeakable police brutality or a measured response to an arrested man’s stubbornness.

In a study according to the Harvard Law Review, the truthfulness that is possible in videos have the possibility to unsettle the way appellate judges do their work.

“A person can describe the events all they can, but it will never be as accurate as the event itself on film,” Joe Cahill, sophomore communication major, said.

The study suggests that justices could be less prone to defer to factual findings of jurors on the case and to the conclusions of lower-court judges.

“Seeing things for yourself is different from hearing about them from other people. It allows you to interpret the situation for yourself rather than going off of how someone else perceived it,” Jackie Ozzimo, junior history and political science major, said.

So far this has been the only study or case where YouTube has been used for jurors and justices observations.

Now that Facebook is being used by employers to “check out” their potential employees, why shouldn’t YouTube be used in court?

Students from many colleges post videos on YouTube of events they may participate in with friends either on campus or off campus.

Would lawyers be allowed to search YouTube for this specific person to take on more charges if in this video they possibly were doing something illegal?

Many other rules and laws would have to be put in place if YouTube was to be allowed in court.

Another question posed is whether YouTube would actually help promote justice in the world.

“If the videos on YouTube is something that could be used as evidence, then I don’t see why not. If a video of an event can help justice, I’m all for it,” Cahill said.

Christine Adolf

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