Supreme Court Refuses to Reject Victim Impact Videos in Death Cases
Very little is more prejudicial in the penalty phase of a death case than a video of the victim's life set to music. Juries are instructed to base their decisions on reason rather than emotion, and then view a video, on a larger than life screen, depicting images of the victim and events in his or her life, as prepared by their family, set to music.
Today, the Supreme Court refused to reject the practice in two cases.
The order Monday comes in two California cases in which jurors were shown video montages of the victims' lives, in one instance set to music by Enya.
Three justices disagreed with the ruling: Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens' statement is here (pdf.)
"The videos added nothing relevant to the jury's deliberations and invited a verdict based on sentiment, rather than reasoned judgment," Stevens said.
You can watch one of the videos here.
|< 5,000 AZ DUI Cases Could Be Tossed | Obama Plans to Move Gitmo Terror Trials to Criminal Courts >|