To beg for leniency, defense attorneys are producing tear-jerking films to sway the court.

To beg for leniency, defense attorneys are producing tear-jerking films to sway the court.

Sigh. So you have a nice 5 minute film with sappy music over it, show it to a judge who won office in a popularity contest (?!), and the sappiest films get lighter sentences? Smh. The American justice system is bonkers on both ends. This sappy shit on the one side, and death penalty, and hundreds of thousands of young lives needlessly ruined on pumped up marijuana sentences on the other.

That woman in the first video didn't elicit any sympathy in me at all. If anything, it would make me want to make his sentence harsher.

My god, what an annoying delivery.

Kidnapping? Are you super serial? He’s like not even intimidating.

IMO the worst part about this isn't the idea of people getting away with lighter sentences from these films, but the converse: people not having the resources to hire a lawyer that might do something like this. If another man in a similar situation could only afford a public attorney i have no doubts he would have gotten way more jail time. I don't think it's the worst thing in the world to show the human side of an issue (although it makes me absolutely sick to see how slimy these lawyers are) but it becomes a big problem when it's a luxury only some can afford.

I don't understand why emotional appeals are considered in court at all.

It should be "did the person commit the crime, or not?" not "How bad do you feel for the victims?" or "do you like the defendant?"

Declaring them a monster is an easy way to not have to think about the reality of their crimes. Everybody deserves some semblance of understanding/sympathy, even criminals. Presenting the circumstances around the crime is integral to the defense. If this is the most effective method of doing so, then it kinda makes sense that it's allowed.

I can see this as very effective tool to defend people that aren't given a fair shake, but what about the others - the rapists, murders, etc.? And what about objectivity in the courtroom? Cool video, but no thanks.

I was sitting the whole clip wondering: "Oh, this is a joke, right? ...isn't it?".

Jesus crist I'm glad I'm not from the US

Somewhere in the bowels of the FBI, there's a utility closet hastily converted into an office. A barely legible hand-printed 8x11 piece of paper says "Behavioral Analysis Unit - Super Serial Divison" ...

Agent #1: Have you been following this case? Agent #2: Which one, the Not Even Intimidating Kidnapper? Agent #1: Yeah. Looks like they had the NEIK right in the palm of their hands- and they let him go. Agent #2: Why do we even DO this job? Agent #1: Can it, McHenry! We do it because it has to be done. Because we can't just let the super serial ones go, except when we do I mean. But STILL, we can't just let them go. Wherever there's someone who can't even, we'll be there. Because that's just what we do.

Yeah, it starts to become less about the facts and more about who has access to top-notch production. Seems like it's designed to exploit human emotions.

Really though, regardless of these videos this still holds true in the reality that someone with no resources will still only be handed a public defender who is probably already stretched thin vs someone who can hire an entire team of defense lawyers.

Have you ever watched a trial? Getting sympathy for the defendant is a huge part of the defense. The criticisms directed towards these videos don't make sense to me because the videos aren't really doing anything that the defense doesn't already do besides add some music underneath their argument. I get that they choose their words carefully and present the defendant in the most flattering light possible, but that's already the defense's job. A lot of the arguments presented by other commenters in this thread seem to imply that defendants don't deserve representation at all.

These video strategies were actually invented by public defenders and appointed attorneys in capital cases. Sentencing mitigation is often all we have in serious cases -- there's a multitude of charges against the client, and any number of them will stick at trial, exposing the client to hundreds of years of prison or sometimes death. So they plead and beg for leniency.

Poverty and the hard life that came out of that poverty are often the focus of these films. It's usually clients from public defender offices that are going to have the most moving mitigation films.

I'm ready for the downvotes

Devils advocate (I'm just going for discussion, please don't shoot me):

One on hand, I can see the benefit of having a little more exposure to the person that's being accused of a crime. A judge goes through dozens of cases a day, often not spending a lot of time deciding what a persons fate is going to be. The justice system isn't perfect and people go to jail for shit far longer than they should be. Doesn't reddit hate the prison system in the US? How it seems to disproportionately affect minorities? How even a portion of jails (albeit small) actually BENEFIT from incarceration? How fucked up is that? Now people accused of crimes are given a chance to have a connection with the judge to see them as more than a number on a piece of paper, I don't think that's entirely a bad idea at it's core. It seems to be keeping people who are utilizing this out of jail or in jail for less time.

Okay enough of that because honestly I don't think this is ultimately a good idea, namely due to how easy it will be to manipulate unfairly a judges opinion and how it will make it much harder for people who can't afford this kind of defense going forward. The justice system is broken but I'm not sure this actually fixes anything. It seems to again benefit the well off instead of helping the poor who are often misrepresented in a court of law. Oh well I'm open for discussion

What you left out is that there's the state's prosecuting attorney who has nearly endless resources and the almost the entire weight of the government able to push back on sappy shit like this.

As far as the weed stuff goes, I agree with you. But we need to elect better legislators to change the law. The prosecutors and defense attorneys just work within it.

nearly endless resources

Not even close to true.

When the argument is "just look at him".

At sentencing hearings people always have character witnesses come in. This is pretty much the same thing. Maybe they should ban the music.

As long as the victims get a video too, right?

It's easy to reduce the horror of human suffering- willfully inflicted by the defendant- down to numbers, too.

I like how the guy said "weapon" instead of gun. Since the victim got out alive, it's easy to underestimate the trauma of having to perform for your life at the mercy of a pumped-up, entitled a-hole with a gun. My husband [this is his account] was attacked and robbed at gunpoint by a random assailant just out for money. You can't understand what that's like unless you've been on the wrong end of a barrel yourself- but that insight alone speaks volumes about what a heinous crime this actually was. This was worse; the offender was on a personal mission to terrorize his victim.

It's the wrongness of that that can't be overstated. Not the t-shirt the kidnapper wore when he was 10. This just strikes me as obscenely wrong.

It's important to note that these videos are being used at sentencing hearings. Which means that the guilt of the person has already been determined and that the video is being used to show why a person should receive a lighter sentence than what the guidelines direct.

While federal is different, most state sentencing guidelines are very bare bones in regards to the factors used to arrive at the recommendation.

And as noted in the video, each defendant is a person and that person is different and should be considered on their own merits, not just the graph concocted by some bureaucrats.

These videos are used during sentencing. That's after they're convicted or pleaded guilty. You don't get to show these videos during the actual trial.

A lot of states elect their judges.

Seems like it's designed to exploit human emotions.

Isn't that the whole point of having jury trials?

I seriously thought this was satire. Also when the guy started to speak at the podium. He sounds exactly like Nick Kroll. Then I was convinced it was a joke...

just to be clear... this is satire, right?

Edit: It's not.

Everyone has a right to the best defense possible

The shit that hits front page for us is fucking embarrassing.

Really? They don't have State and local police gathering evidence? Professional detectives and investigators on the payroll to ferret out information? Myriad of state ran labs and experts able to examine each bit of evidence sent their way? I know a lot of the time these detectives, investigators, labs, and experts are sometimes spread a little thin depending on region but no matter how you cut it the deck is stacked in the State's favor.

So... this guy is using our hero's journey video to teach people how to make videos to sway judges' opinions?

The future is stranger than we've anticipated.

Dude this is Reddit and there is a formula for karma farming:

something negative about the US is brought to light

“Jesus fuck I’m glad I don’t live in the United States”

which is followed by

“From America, can confirm”

a little farther down

“Well I’m glad I live in _____ where we do it this way...”

Every time without fail. Honestly as an American, I love living here despite the flaws of our government.