When the news first broke of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona on 8th January 2011 which killed 6 people and seriously injured 13 more,including US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, I googled the name of the alleged shooter- Jared Lee Loughner – when it was first suggested.
I found two videos on youtube, one posted by a person calling themselves Jared Lee Loughner, the second by a person calling themselves Jared Loughner. The first purports to show his final thoughts, the second a video set to music. There is no evidence they were posted by the accused shooter.
The video set to music made my blood run cold – particularly the starting voice-over. Even looking at it now scares me.
I half expected these videos to have been taken down by now – but today they are still there albeit that the embed feature has been disabled.
My concern about this is in relation to the trial process. Most lawyers and judges expect that jury members will ignore any advice/instructions given to them in Court not to conduct independent research, in fact that it is one of the reasons why the rules on what can and cannot be reported sub judice are so tight.
So what purpose is served by having this type of video online while the judicial process takes place? There has been no confirmation or denial that these were posted by the accused man which could lead to speculation. In emotive cases like this one, where one of the victims was a child, surely we don’t want members of the jury or any one involved in the case to assume they were posted by the accused. There is no evidence of this but do we trust a jury to only consider the evidence presented in court?
As a lawyer I think this is very dangerous. However, who would be responsible for taking down such web content and ensuring it stays down?