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Video as Defense (a Defense for Video)

Here at Digital-11, we cannot help but stand in awe of video’s power to tap into that wellspring of emotion and empathy deep within its viewers to create reality and influence outcomes.

As if to affirm this idea, a recent NY Times article, found here, covers the budding practice of lawyers who produce videos to augment their defense in court. As one participant puts it: “judges ‘never know the totality of the defendant.'”

Therefore, these videos attempt to humanize a defendant by interviewing people who know them (generally supportive people in that person’s life) as well as the defendants themselves. B-roll of the defendants, portrayed in their everyday environments, further paints the defense lawyer’s picture for a judge.

To take the many disparate elements of a person’s life (his or her job, family, friends, hobbies, past, hopes for the future) and streamline them into a coherent visual and succinct aural package seems almost like a magic trick when put on such terms. But this is exactly what video achieves– bringing a distant person and story right into our hearts and minds, and awakening that wellspring.


Fernando Perez recording a video of Anthony Quijada, of Gilroy, Calif., for Mr. Quijada’s sentencing on a gun charge. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

For these defendants, the stakes are indeed high (a prison sentence reverberates throughout the course of one’s life) and the time for a defense limited.

Yet lawyers are trusting the medium of video to alleviate their client’s sentence, and, if nothing else, to reaffirm that client’s humanity in the face of a justice system that maybe only sees the worst side of a what will always be a multifaceted individual.

We at Digital-11 believe that this is perhaps the pinnacle of what a video can achieve, no matter what the subject.


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