The Evidentiary Value of Body-Worn Camera Footage: A Survey of Prosecutors and Public Defenders

Source: 

BWC TTA

Authors: 

John McCluskey, Shakierah Smith, Oral Robertson, Dr. Craig D. Uchida, and Damon Mosler (2019)

The value of body-worn camera (BWC) footage as evidence and the challenges and opportunities it affords case processing are, as yet, relatively unexplored. The current research examines the impact of BWC footage on prosecutors and defense attorneys in three jurisdictions: Monroe County, New York; San Diego County, California; and Travis County, Texas. We explore variations across the two groups (assistant district attorneys/public defenders) in terms of time, expectations, and anticipated consequences of BWC on their respective work in processing cases in local courts.

To accomplish this, we first briefly outline the concerns and research gaps in the current literature. Second, we introduce the three sites and discuss the sampling strategy and response rate for the survey. Finally, we present the results of comparisons between defense attorneys’ and prosecutors’ responses to a series of parallel questions posed in the survey. Notable areas of agreement and disagreement are highlighted in the report. Finally, we consider the results in the context of policy for BWC relative to its evidentiary value and contribution to adjudication.

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