Judge's Ruling Says: Go Check Out The YouTube Video, Which 'Speaks For Itself'

from the go-judge-kozinski dept

I don't always agree with Judge Alex Kozinski, though I'm quite frequently entertained by him (and, on balance, I probably do agree with him pretty often). Eric Goldman points us to a recent concurring opinion (pdf) by Judge Kozinski in a case involving a guy who was kicked out of a city council meeting for giving a Nazi salute, and then claimed his free speech rights were impeded upon. The case itself is not very interesting. But what is interesting is that, in his concurring opinion, Kozinski points out that even though the guy in question, Robert Norse, was unable to present evidence due to "procedural irregularities," since a video of the events in question were on YouTube, you could just watch it there, and then linked to the video in question:
I join Judge Thomas's opinion because it's clearly right. I write only to observe that, even after the procedural irregularities that deprived Norse an opportunity to present evidence, it's clear that the council members aren't entitled to qualified immunity. In the Age of YouTube, there's no need to take my word for it: There is a video of the incident that I'm "happy to allow . . . to speak for itself." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 n.5 (2007); see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOssHWB6WBI (last visited Nov. 16, 2010).
He then goes on to discuss the case. However, this may be the first time that I can recall a judge noting that even without official evidence being entered, you could just go watch the events in question on YouTube. We've had a few (sometimes heated) discussions around here concerning the rules of evidence and whether or not juries or judges should be allowed to seek out additional evidence like this -- and I'm glad to see Kozinski not just do so, but then point out to everyone in his concurrence how braindead obvious it is that those judging the case should see the video.

Filed Under: alex kozinski, evidence, youtube
Companies: youtube


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  1. identicon
    V, 20 Dec 2010 @ 6:51am

    Dangerous

    This is a very dangerous precident. As an artist and someone who is very good at doctoring photos with Photoshop, I can tell you that searching the internet for evidence is possible the most stupid, ignorant and insane thing to do if you are deciding someone's fate.

    Imagine that me - or people even better - hired to find photos of you and doctor them to make you appear to be talking with known felons.

    I can EASILY make photos that a laymen can't tell were doctored, and people better than me can make photos that that even an expert would have problems distinguishing.

    Is that really what you want your freedom dependant on?

    There is a reason for the rules of evidence. Experts qualify evidence and give expert testimony that evidence is authentic. Sure, it can still be fabricated, but at least there is an effort to make sure that the evidence against you is in fact legitimate.

    There is no checks and balances on the internet. In 30 minutes, I can have a website, social media site, blog, etc. in anyone's name with whatever I want on it - including doctored pictures.

    Is that REALLY what you think is cool? That judges and juries can go onto the web and find this completely fake site with incriminating quotes, etc.

    If so, you are incredibly naive to what is possible with technology and I hope you never find out how incredibly easy it is for those with skill to doctor things - photos, movies, websites, even social media sites.

    Trust no one and nothing.... not even what you see with your own eyes.

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