Body cameras tell truth, right? Not so fast, professor warns

JACKSONVILLE.COM, 23 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

The law professor had one main message for prosecutors when he came to town: You shouldn’t always believe your eyes.

As the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the police union hammer out details to implement body-worn cameras, prosecutors took an afternoon last week to learn how to use that evidence in court.

“As a prosecutor, any time we can have video footage of significant events in a criminal action it’s essential for us,” Chief Assistant State Attorney Mac Heavener said before the training. “The jury essentially becomes a witness to the things that happened.”

But then Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and one of the foremost body camera experts, raised his hand to interject. “Actually, I’m going to spend time this afternoon about why that’s not true.”

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