Testimony Redaction

Count me as surprised that judges in a criminal case can order the redaction of witness testimony because it includes “offensive and inflammatory” language. The Ninth Circuit recently confirmed this practice even when the omitted language reflected a possible witness prejudice towards the accused.

I had no idea a judge could remove words from witness statements. Perhaps this could make sense if there were lengthy witness ramblings that had no bearing at all on the case or the witness’s potential biases. Such “testimony” could be a ploy to create mountains of nonsense. But in this case a witness had used a racial epithet involving the accused’s race and in the context of the allegations.

The court’s rationale is that certain language could make it difficult for jurors to perform their duties, because it would create strong emotions that would override their ability to think fairly and rationally.

It’ll be interesting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court hears this on appeal.

It’s no wonder the media seem so attracted to the most inflammatory and divisive statements. It does seem to keep people agitated. In whose interest?

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