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2017 Ninth Circuit - Central District of California Media Conference

Every Picture Tells A Story?

What happens when police use of deadly force is caught on camera? Video recordings - whether obtained from a bystander’s cellphone, a nearby surveillance camera or the body and dashboard cameras used by law enforcement - can be critical elements in a subsequent investigation and compelling evidence in court proceedings. Should such recordings be released to the media and public and, if so, when and how?

In high-profile cases involving fatal shootings and allegations of excessive force, access to video and other information figures into the complex interaction that occurs among law enforcement, legal counsel and the media. The competing and often conflicting interests that drive this interaction were discussed at the Ninth Circuit - Central District of California Media Conference.

A high-powered panel of judges, lawyers and journalists discussed the access issue. They included U.S. District Judge André Birotte, Jr., of the Central District; Arif Alikhan, director of the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy for the Los Angeles Police Department; attorneys who either sue police departments or defend accused officers; and two respected journalists from the print and electronic media. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the Western District of Washington moderated the discussion.

The program also included remarks by Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Judge Thomas discussed the appellate court’s use of live audio and video streaming for oral arguments and efforts to bring cameras into federal trial courts. Both topics figured into the recent federal litigation over an executive order banning travel to and from certain Middle East countries.

Recorded March 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

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