The US Supreme Court has accepted a YouTube video as a citation in a case.
This must have been tough for the Nine Wise Ones. They are very accustomed to musty old books filled with the pronouncements of dead judges being cited for them. Now, instead, they had a motion picture available to them, as cited evidence, on their computers — and this motion picture, cited in Scott v. Harris, is apparently being given credence by all but Justice Stevens.
Seeing the action as it happened has the distinct potential to affect how appellate judges work. Right now, they work based on the record made in the lower courts. However, if they can see for themselves the events as the events transpired — hey, they’re only human; the record may be given less deference than it has been given up til now.
That the High Court has seen fit to accept a YouTube video citation may just spark a new era of how citations can be presented in federal court. Yes, the musty old books filled with the dead judges’ pronouncements will remain, as will BlueBook format (the bane of every 1L student), but we seem to be introducing an interesting new element as we slide into the 21st Century if we’re looking at jurisprudence based on YouTube videos.
I’m not sure what I think of this. If the appellate judges are re-trying the case based on the video, I don’t think much of it. If, though, the video is used to show real-world action only as a factor in determining the appellate outcome, I think it’s terrific.