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New Supreme Court Precedent: Using Video to Illustrate a Decision

The Supreme Court issued an 8-1, precedential decision in Scott v. Harris, effectively establishing a flat rule that a police officer in a high-speed chase that poses a threat to the safety of others does not violate the Fourth Amendment even where the officer places the fleeing motorist at risk of injury or death. But equally precedential about the opinion was the Court's venture into the YouTube era, through posting a video of the chase on the Court Web site and inviting the public to see for itself that the tape definitively showed that the driver posed a threat to public safety.

Bloggers' initial reactions to the Supreme Court decision are starting to come in.  Orin Kerr has an inside track on the decision, as he served as co-counsel to police officer Scott, as he describes in this post. Kerr notes that  the Court's rule for high-speed chases is broader than that sought in Scott's brief. And in an earlier analysis, Kerr explains why the lower court's characterization of the facts of the case, though contrary to what's depicted in the video, are legally irrelevant to the outcome.

Over at SCOTUS Blog, Lyle Denniston elaborates on the Court's creation of a flat rule for high-speed chases. New York Personal Injury blogger Eric Turkewitz comments on the Court's use of the videotape, suggesting that video might have helped in pornography cases, where the best standard that Justice Potter Stewart could muster is I know it when I see it

Finally, Dave Hoffman at Concurring Opinions offers this interesting post, The Death of Fact-finding and the Birth of Truth, which argues that what's really at stake in Scott v. Harris is "whether trial courts, or appellate courts, are to have the last say on what the record means. Or, more grandly, does litigation make findings of fact, or truth?"

There's sure to be much more commentary on Scott v. Harris in the days to come. Maybe even some video commentary ...

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 30, 2007 at 07:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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