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Video and Juries: A Bad Mix

11 Aug, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

An Alaska jury acquitted a 29-year-old man of two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of vehicular manslaughter Tuesday despite evidence that his viewing of a DVD while driving caused his pickup to collide with another vehicle, killing both occupants.

Last month, three Orange County, Calif., teenage boys were acquitted in the videotaped gang rape of an unconscious underage girl passed out from alcohol and marijuana.

In the late 1980s, Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry was caught on video smoking crack cocaine during a FBI sting operation.

During his trial, Barry's lawyer admitted the mayor used cocaine occasionally and the juror subsequently found him guilty of a misdemeanor charge of possession and remained deadlocked on 12 other more serious charges.

The common denominator throughout the aforementioned cases is not that of a video's apparent worthlessness to criminal cases, but rather, an indictment of societies' callousness toward reality and a jury system in need of a complete makeover.

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