Friday, June 23, 2017

Not Just Police Body Cams

GoPro Pet Camera Mounts

A recent Pennsylvania appellate court decision points out that the record keepers will deal with more than just law enforcement body camera evidence. Courts are having to deal with video evidence from many sources.


A news article from the Penn Live website ( ) caught our eye.  The article titled “Court backs $3.1M verdict in fatal crash filmed by GoPro camera on victim's motorcycle helmet” summarized the appeals court findings regarding video captured and used in the trial court:
“Saying the evidence to support it is solid, a state Superior Court panel has upheld a jury's $3.1 million damage verdict for a fatal crash that was filmed by a Go Pro camera mounted on the victim's motorcycle helmet.” 
“During the civil trial, Gray conceded that he bore some liability for the crash, but also blamed Wilson for aggressive driving. He claimed on appeal that the aggressive driving assertion would have been better illustrated if the judge had allowed the entire 40-minute Go Pro video to be shown to the jurors.” 
“Instead, only 17 minutes of the video leading up to the collision was shown during the trial. That was sufficient, Dubow concluded, because it showed Wilson doing three wheelies in the half-mile before the crash.”

 Another article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper describes how law enforcement is battling distracted driving in their region that “police are using GoPro cameras in squads to record drivers who are checking their Facebook pages and sending tweets.”

In another example, the article describes that “(t)he sheriff’s deputies zoomed alongside the white pickup whizzing down Cliff Road and snapped a picture of the driver using his smartphone to send an e-mail. Then they pulled him over and wrote him a $50 ticket.”

But video evidence can go both ways.  An article on the “” website describes how a man was able to fight a running a red-light violation “despite the officer's dashcam video clearly shown that he hadn't”.

'The judge threw the case out but the defendant wasn’t done."  He took the city to small claims court asking for $2,000 in damages.  The city eventually settled the matter for $25,000.

What is a court to do to with this video evidence?  Clearly, it is part of the court record and must be preserved per the records management plan.  One very good first resource on the issues is the COSCA/NACM Joint Technology resource bulletin on digital evidence (PDF).

 But our good friend in New Zealand, now retired Judge David Harvey, presents another option.  His solution was to post and then link the video on YouTube (first example) as he did in the DIA v TV Works case back in 2010 (PDF).  And it is interesting to note that the US National Archives agrees with Judge Harvey’s approach because it has its own YouTube channel.

Is this the final answer?  Clearly no.  But it will be interesting to literally watch the solutions that come into view.

1 comment:

  1. Dog body cam will hell to police to arrest criminal easily. Its awesome idea.