YouTube Video Cited In Court Case

By: Daniel Kopf

A new era in law was entered last month when a YouTube video was cited in a court petition. The YouTube video shows Florida Deputy Jonathon Rackard tasering 23 year old Jesse Buckley after Buckley refused to get off the ground. The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not Rackard used excessive force against Buckley.

The citation was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida last month after the 11th Judicial Circuit Panel ruled that the force was not excessive.

The incident happened after Buckley was pulled over for speeding. According to the New York Times, “it completely undid Mr. Buckley, who said in an interview that the prospect of paying a $175 ticket was just too much given his personal and financial troubles at the time.”

The You Tube video has amassed over 40,000 hits since it was posted last September.

The use of the YouTube video in court has raised many questions about the use of videos in future cases.

“Anyone involved in a court case should be able to present whatever relevant evidence is available,” Mark Grabowski said, a lawyer and media professor at Marist College.  “YouTube videos may be able to provide additional evidence in helping a jury determine what happened and whether a wrong has occurred.” 

Despite the usefulness a YouTube video might have it also presents negatives.

“To me YouTube videos could be easily doctored, they also could be taken out of context which could skew the outcome,”  Cornell freshman Heather Lee said.  

Context is important when dissecting evidence as it can produce different opinions than originally intended.

“It is important, however, for juries to consider the context of the video, to recognize the limits of the story told by video and to consider video evidence in conjunction with other types of evidence that may be offered,” Mark Grabowski said.

The future of YouTube videos in the court remains uncertain, but many scholars find the future implications have far reaching effects.

“Video evidence has successfully been used against wayward law enforcement officials who otherwise would have gotten the benefit of the doubt in a “my word versus yours” claim,” Grabowski said. “Big Brother may be watching us. We’re watching Big Brother, too.”


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