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  1. #1
    Jenna's Avatar
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    Illinois Supreme Court rules that police must keep video even for minor cases instead of erasing it after 30 days

    The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday backed up a judge who punished the prosecution after video of a drunken driving arrest was destroyed, a decision establishing that defendants have a right to see video evidence even in misdemeanor cases.

    The defendant had made clear that she would fight the charges and wanted the squad-car video of her arrest. The court said that even though the Cook County case was a misdemeanor, police and prosecutors had a duty to preserve the video instead of routinely erasing it after 30 days.

    "In sum, we conclude that the routine video recording of traffic stops has now become an integral part of those encounters, objectively documenting what takes place by capturing the conduct and the words of both parties," Justice Charles Freeman wrote for the unanimous Supreme Court.

    The trial judge, as punishment for the video being erased, barred the arresting officer from testifying about anything that took place while the camera was running. Judge William Wise said it was the third time in three weeks that he had encountered video evidence being erased.
    More here: Ill. police must keep video even for minor cases - chicagotribune.com

  2. #2
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    Sounds like that judge is trying to legislate from the bench. Banning him from testifying? Sounds way overboard to me.
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  3. #3
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    I agree. She can still confront and impeach his testimony or account. In fact, I don't like the increasing reliance and expectation of videos or recordings. If we lose the trust in the sworn testimony of an officer, what's left? Cameras don't always catch everything, and video evidence can be misleading.

    But, I also think allowing the video to be deleted prior to the trial, especially if the defendant has indicated an intent to fight the charges is dumb. It's evidence. Save it. Otherwise, you create an impression that you're hiding something.
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  4. #4
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    We are just about there. If it didn't happen on video it didn't happen.
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  5. #5
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    As I understand this particular case, it sounds reasonable. Why on earth would any department destroy what is evidence in a case that hasn't been deposed of? Last I checked, we charge people all the time with tampering or destruction of evidence.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

  6. #6
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    IMO the video should absolutely be saved as Rosario material.

    I don't agree with the Judge barring the Officer from testifying though. Lew beat me to it: If it didn't happen on video, did it not happen?

  7. #7
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    Sounds like without video, the judge thinks it's a case of he said /she said. Problem is, she had every reason to lie about it, and by preventing the officer from testifying about anything that would have been on the tape, she had carte blanche to say whatever she wanted to. I agree with Rhino in that it's still evidence in a case that hasn't seen its end yet so it should be saved till it has, but seriously, what did this judge do before there was such a thing as video?

  8. #8
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    Keep in mind why the officer wasn't allowed to testify. It wasn't because the court thought the officer was incredulous. It was punishment because this department, as a matter of policy, erases video after 30 days whether it's evidence or not and that shouldn't be allowed to continue. The prosecutor's office should have gotten with that department the first time it happened and said "look, you guys need to stop doing this", but they didn't. So the judge is having to the prosecutor's job for them and "legislate from the bench" as someone said.
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  9. #9
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    barred the arresting officer from testifying about anything that took place while the camera was running.
    Here we go. If it's not on video it didn't happen and cops have no veracity to their testimony.
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  10. #10
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    Keep in mind why the officer wasn't allowed to testify. It wasn't because the court thought the officer was incredulous. It was punishment because this department, as a matter of policy, erases video after 30 days whether it's evidence or not and that shouldn't be allowed to continue. The prosecutor's office should have gotten with that department the first time it happened and said "look, you guys need to stop doing this", but they didn't. So the judge is having to the prosecutor's job for them and "legislate from the bench" as someone said.
    I see that -- and I'm not defending "routinely" erasing evidence, especially since storage is much cheaper than it used to be -- but I still have a problem that the judge didn't allow direct testimony by the officer. The camera only captures on point of view and audio. It doesn't capture smells. It may not capture all of the subjects movements during sobriety tests. We don't have cameras in the cars yet -- but most of the systems I've seen only look forward. What if the tests were done off to the side, on a sidewalk, for safety?

    The officer was present in court, and the defendant had the chance to confront him. I'd even have agreed with the judge if he'd permitted the defense latitude in making inferences from the absence of the video, and allow the defense to ask the trier of fact to do the same. But barring any testimony about things that might have been recorded seems rather extreme.
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  11. #11
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    The dept. should be keeping evidence like that for a more reasonable period of time. In this day and age where most of your pictures and videos are going to be digital anyway, it should not be an issue of storage space (with TB's costing less than $100). If you are going to have a time period to destroy evidence, make it like maybe two years or so, and then make a check have to be run to make sure it does not pertain to an open case before deletion. Might take a phone call to get that done. But the judge is way out of line for denying the officer the ability to testify. By denying the testimony, the judge has committed destruction of evidence, as far as I'm concerned!
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