CINCINNATI, OH – A federal appeals court has just ruled that grainy, slow-motion footage of arrested suspects being paraded before cameras to make them look guilty can be used against them in court as evidence of wrongdoing.
Nicknamed “perp walk”, the practice of escorting detainees through a public place after giving media outlets advance notice is commonly used by law enforcement agencies to influence potential jurors against the presumption of innocence afforded by the widely held interpretation of the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
“Due process is a real show-stopper when all you’ve got is boring evidence in legalese,” said prosecutor Dane Gearholdt. “This new ruling helps us tremendously because we can get video of the guy being dragged to the police van and squinting when a reporter shouts at him. Then we slow it down right when he blinks or glares, or better yet, looks over his shoulder at the camera and making crazy eyes. Freeze frame. Boom, you’ve got a conviction.”
Defense attorneys are enraged by the decision. Public defender Will Hattermeyer claims that all a prosecutor needs to do under this legal standard is to capture one unflattering shot of the defendant and poison any chance of a fair trial.
“Get a clip like that to Nancy Grace or whoever, and he’s sunk,” said Hattermeyer. “They’ll show the slo-mo clip non-stop and seal his fate. Instead of weighing evidence and reasonable doubt, juries will now be considering shifty eyes and creepy blinks in their deliberations.”
Hattermeyer’s client has much to lose in this new judicial climate. On trial for murder, he has a solid alibi and legal pundits agree that the circumstantial case against him is flimsy at best and possibly fraudulent. However, he was arrested by a SWAT team and interrogated for 72 hours before being taken to his arraignment, which made for a disastrous perp walk with saggy eyes, disheveled clothing and mussed hair.
Constitutional scholars and legal experts call the decision a travesty of justice and an utter failure of jurisprudence. Supporters of the decision praise the lowering of the burden of proof to effectively “Everybody knows the guy did it.”