Sentencing

Dharun Ravi's Thought Crimes

The Tyler Clementi case shows how hate crime laws punish opinion.

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The day Tyler Clementi discovered that his roommate at Rutgers University had used a webcam to spy on him as he kissed another man, he described the incident to a friend during an instant-message chat. "It could be interpreted as a hate crime," the friend suggested, according to a recent New Yorker article by Ian Parker. Clementi's reply: "hahaha a hate crime lol." 

That risible possibility has become a reality because Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman, jumped off the George Washington Bridge two days later for reasons that remain unclear. The New Jersey trial of Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, illustrates the dangers posed by hate crime statutes, which enhance the penalties for existing offenses based on bigoted motives and therefore punish people for their opinions.

Ravi, who rejected a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail, faces up to 10 years in prison for being an immature jerk. On the evening of September 19, 2010, having set up the webcam on his computer to automatically accept video chat requests, Ravi went to a friend's dorm room across the hall to see what Clementi and his visitor were doing. After watching a few seconds of the two men kissing, Ravi shut off the feed.

Ravi compounded this invasion by tweeting about it. "Roommate asked for the room till midnight," he wrote. "I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." Two days later Ravi tweeted that "it's happening again" and dared his followers to watch. Clementi apparently prevented a second viewing by unplugging Ravi's computer.

Prosecutors argue that on both occasions Ravi committed (or attempted) an invasion-of-privacy offense that ordinarily carries a sentence of three to five years. But by asserting that Ravi did so "with a purpose to intimidate" Clementi "because of" his sexual orientation, they bumped this third-degree offense up a level, making the penalty five to 10 years.

During her opening statement on Friday, Middlesex County prosecutor Julia McClure claimed Ravi's actions "were planned to expose Tyler Clementi's sexual orientation," adding that he was "seeking to brand Tyler as different from everybody else, as gay, to set him up for contempt and ridicule." One problem with this theory, as Ian Parker shows, is that Clementi—who had come out to his parents shortly before starting college, attended at least one meeting of Rutgers' Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Alliance, and requested privacy to meet with a man in his room—was not trying to hide his sexual orientation.

Based on the testimony of the prosecution's own witnesses, the motivation for what Clementi called Ravi's "five sec peep" was twofold: He was curious about whether he had correctly surmised Clementi was gay, and he worried that Clementi's visitor, an older man who was not a student and struck him as sketchy, might steal his stuff.

The prosecution witnesses agreed that Ravi—who, judging from his many indiscreet tweets and instant messages, was not shy about sharing his opinions—had never expressed hostility against gay people in general or Clementi in particular. As far as Ravi was concerned, these students said, the scandalous thing about Clementi's tryst was his visitor's age, not his sex. "He's not homophobic," Ravi's lawyer declared during his opening statement. "He's not antigay."

The testimony and public record so far support that portrayal. But you can be sure that if Ravi had ever said "man, I hate queers," or even endorsed the biblical view of homosexuality, that statement would be used against him and might be crucial in winning a conviction. In that case, he would be punished not just for what he did but also for what he believes.

The legal treatment of Ravi, who probably would not have been charged at all if Clementi had not killed himself, has been unreasonably harsh. But even people who commit far worse crimes should not face extra punishment because they harbor unenlightened views. 

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

© Copyright 2012 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. I didn’t realize Ravi was an ageist. If only the older-than-you was a protected class, this case would be closer to a slam dunk.

    1. That only counts if the discriminated against individual is old enough to join AARP.

    2. They found a copy of Logan’s Run under his bed?

      1. Yes, weighed down by a jar of soylent green

    3. Some guys like guys, some guys like girls, some girls like girls, some girls like guys, some like both, let it be.looking for the bilover?”datebi*co’m” is a site for bisexual and bicurious singles and friends.Here you can find hundreds of thousands of open-minded singles & couples looking to explore their bisexuality.sign up for free.

      1. Some guys like watching guys who like guys.

        1. And some guys love dogs. Can’t we all get along?

  2. Hate crime = thought crime

    Why are one’s motives cause for a different standard of judgment or punishment?

    1. For the same reason that killing in self-defense isn’t murder.

      1. If you can’t figure out for yourself how thought crime is different from self-defense, you’re not really worth the time it would take to explain it.

        1. Maybe you should learn to understand context. I know it’s hard but trust me, it’s worth doing.

          Now, look at BigT’s actual question. Next, look at Abdul’s reply below.

          Why are there different degrees of murder based on motive? Maybe you could learn how to think you stupid fuck.

          1. For the same reason that killing in self-defense isn’t murder.

            Why are there different degrees of murder based on motive?

            homicide ? murder

            You don’t think so very well yourself, Sparky. BigT is correct. Hate crime is thought crime.

            The biggest problem with hate crime law is yet to be revealed in a big, public way. The hate crime label won’t affect the punishment of vicious murders much – you can only execute or imprison a person for life once. The biggest effect will be making criminals out of people who voice unpopular political opinions (or “hate speech” as some people call it) and severely punishing people who commit minor offenses against a politically favored group. Ravi clearly fits into the second group.

            1. Compounded with the fact that he would never have seen the inside of a courthouse if his roommate hadn’t committed suicide.

              What Ravi is being charged for legally has nothing to do with the suicide, but he’s basically being punished for it through unrelated charges.

            2. You guys don’t get it do you? You’re so hung up on hate crime = thought crime (which I agree with) that you clearly don’t see the question. The question is: “Why are one’s motives cause for a different standard of judgment or punishment?”

              Should motive not matter at all? After all, a person is just as dead if you kill them in self-defense as they would be if you killed them because you hated them. Of course motive matters, just about the whole criminal justice system is based on it. Or are you all trying to say that motive should not matter one bit, only results?

              1. If justice is blind, then motive should not matter. Motive never classified a crime before hate crime laws, only intent did. Don’t confuse the two.

                1. To clarify: anyone who has intentionally committed a crime (the court can show intent) has a motive to commit the crime. Prior to hate crime laws, motive did not affect the charges you were sentenced with.

                  Motive is taken into account as part of the proof that you committed the crime, but the law didn’t say that one motive deserved more punishment then another. Why? Because that would be punishing you for your beliefs. Motive matters in the court, but not in the way your describing.

              2. Self defense, negligence and unpremeditated acts are not defined exclusively by motive. They are primarily defined by circumstances. If you kill someone in self-defense, you’re responding to their attack (or the threat thereof) on you. If you kill someone accidentally, you are acting without intent, so motive isn’t a factor.

                1. To clarify: Suppose I’m driving, I hit a pot hole, and the front wheel flys off my car and hits a pedestrian and kills them. Does it matter whether I’m driving to church, or the liquor store, or the casino, or the local brothel?

    2. The difference BigT is pointing to is the viewpoint discrimination. Mental state is a big part of crimes. We all recognize a huge difference between the killer who acted our of malice and the neglignet driver.

      All crimes take the mental state into account.

      What hate crimes punish is the viewpoint of the criminal, as if beating an old woman for her Social Security check is somehow less bad than beating her because she’s old or a woman.

      1. Beating an old woman because she takes social security is better than beating an old woman to take her social security money.
        /monocle.

      2. All crimes take the mental state into account.

        Is that really true? Does consideration of the mental state of an embezzler of $50 million enter into his punishment?

        1. It matters in some crimes more than others. Statutory rape, for instance, is a strict liability crime. Even if you scrupulously checked the ID of the minor, but were fooled by a well-crafted fake, you can be convicted.

          However, the prosecution would still have to prove you acted volitionally. fFor example, if a sleepwalker screwed a minor while he was unconscious (don’t laugh, this defense has been tried with some success), there’s no volition and the sleepwalker will get off. . . I mean walk. . . I mean be found not guilty.

          Similarly, insanity is an affirmative defense to any crime (albeit very difficult to prove).

          1. Actually, no. There were two separate cases in Madison, Wisconsin, in which a male special ed student forced sex on their female teacher, in one of those date-rape scenarios where the boys were too dumb to understand that “No” meant “No”. Both teachers were convicted of statutory rape and sent to prison because the boy who forced sex on them was under the magic age.

            So as you see, volition is not a necessary component in committing a crime in the United States.

            1. you are one messed up individual…

        2. I saw a movie in the guide a couple months ago where kids were robbing a bank to pay for one of the kid’s father’s operation? I think that’s who it was, it was someone’s surgery though. I didn’t watch it and haven’t since but I always wondered how everything was presented and where they tried to inject sympathy. I think Kristen Stewart was in it? Anyone recognize it?

          1. Holy shit I found the movie and the father wasn’t even dying or anything, he just couldn’t walk! “Catch That Kid”. I take it it’s not a violent bank robbery, but still…

              1. Yeah but I suspect that the 12 year old girl is treated more sympathetically than Pacino, although if she were trying to pay for her dad’s sex change I would totally see that movie.

      3. Intent is critical. When I kill someone, I do it because I love them and want to relieve them from their life of sin.

        1. To be human is to suffer. Therefore, killing others is the humane thing to do.

          1. Your saving them from spending eternity in hell. Murderers are the noblest of us all.

      4. Legally, intent and motive are two different things.

        Intent is whether the defendant knowingly committed the crime. For example, manslaughter is killing someone without intending to.

        Motive is the reason for committing the crime and is more specific than intent. Only intended crimes have motives. A negligent driver has no motive. Prior to hate crime laws, motive affected whether or not you would be found guilty, but it did not influence the sentence you would get.

    3. This folds into the discussion a few days ago in the ‘greater good’ thread.

      I said that liberals essentially operate entirely on the idea that the ends justify the means. Another post more accurately pointed out that the real MO is INTENTIONS justifying the means.

      Well, I think is an offshoot of it. Since your intentions matter as much as your actions, a person who murders another, but didn’t have known anti-homosexual intentions isn’t as bad as someone who murders someone and does have those intentions. (This largely works one way-your intentions can only hurt you, not help)

      1. Small correction: being homophobic is a motive, not an intent.

  3. Silly me, all this time I was under the impression I had to DO something to commit a crime. When did prosecutor and investigators become mind readers?

    1. Ravi used his mind to turn on the webcam and spy on Clementi? Cool!!!

      1. jacob

  4. I feel sorry that Clementi took his own life, but there is absolutely no evidence that Ravi’s actions were intended to drive him to suicide.

    Is there any evidence that Ravi’s actions were meant to be more than typical juvenile pranks either? I can imagine quite a few people would be curious as to what was going on in their room when their roommate is alone with someone else. And plenty of college age kids are capable of ridiculing eachother on any basis, whether it’s the style of shoes you wear or who your boyfriend is.

    1. How often do college kids turn on their web cam when it’s heterosexual couples a crime yes but not murder and if Ravi was smart he would say he was actually bi-curious which would mean no intent of harm at all

    2. I feel sorry that Clementi took his own life, but there is absolutely no evidence that Ravi’s actions were intended to drive him to suicide.

      There is also absolutely no evidence that Ravi’s actions actions even had anything to do with Clementi’s suicide. Clementi may have offed himself just because he was troubled about something else. Ravi is being punished based on speculations and PC accusations. Disgusting.

    3. Therein lies the problem. Technically, what Ravi is being charged for has nothing to do with his roommate’s suicide. But the prosecutor is obviously only pursuing this case because of the suicide. So in the court of law, Ravi’s lack of intent to make his roommate commit suicide is irrelevant.

  5. brand all fags…just saying

    1. oops, did I just think that?

  6. Essentially, Ravi’s guilty at most of a peeping tom violation–typically a misdemeanor.

    I’d bet most peeping toms could be charged with a “hate crime” in that the crime tends to pervy men who target women for a specific type of harm and humiliation.

    Going after this guy with this much vengeance is really spiking the ball.

    1. Abdul, can one be a “peeping tom” in one’s own residence? Remember that this was Ravi’s room as well as Clemente’s, and either one had the legal right to access the room. How is this different then me setting up a nanny cam in my own home and catching the nanny taking a drink from my liquor cabinet?

      1. Ooops — “different THAN”, not “different then.” (Actually should be “different from.”)

      2. Yes.
        &
        The nanny doesn’t share your property rights.

      3. I’d have to look at the acutal statute and the case law intepretation to know for sure, but generally peeping tom statutes are about reasonable expectations of privacy. Hotel owners are occasionally charged under these statutes for spying on guests even though the owner has every right to eject the customer at any time.

        Clementi arranged to have the room to him and a date–he arranged for privacy. Had Ravi accidentally walked in on them, no violation.

      4. It would be more like setting up a nanny cam in your live-in nanny’s bedroom.

        1. [Checks google for sales on nanny-cams.]

        2. Except that it is a single room dorm that you are sharing with another, as opposed to a private bedroom in a home that has been assigned to your exclusive use. Ravi and Clemente each used the room as a bedroom, and each had their personal belongings there, including their computer equipment. It is a little more complicated than sneaking a camera into someone else’s private bedroom or private dorm room — which is what the original news reports on this story suggested.

          Also, because this is a criminal case as opposed to a claim for damages, the State would need to establish a reasonable expectation of privacy beyond a reasonable doubt.

          1. Expectation of privacy is not that hard to prove, Clementi told Ravi that he needed the room for himself. Ravi acted as if he understood this and covertly spied on him.

            1. There is no proof that a crime has been committed. The person who was affected by the action that is a supposed crime has not stated that they feel criminally violated.

              1. Actually, Clementi did say he felt violated in an email to his resident advisor at Rutgers:

                “I feel that my privacy has been violated and I am extremely uncomfortable sharing a room with someone who would act in this wildly inappropriate manner.”

                http://www.newyorker.com/repor…..z1nnGsxMMa

                1. It does not mean that he felt criminal charges should be brought. If Clementi was alive, they would have no chance of bringing charges against Ravi without Clementi agreeing to the charges.

            2. Shit like this should not even be prosecutable.

      5. I would roofi all them drinks. Can’t punish me for messing with my own drinks that I never gave the nanny permission to consume.

  7. Would it be a hate crime if his roommate was straight, but hooking up with an ugly woman? Couldn’t you argue that it would be “to set him up for contempt and ridicule” as well?

    1. No, because straight men aren’t a “protected” class. That’s the problem with hate crime laws; they create specific categories of victims that are given preferential treatment. It also leaves the defense in the awkward position of having to prove a negative (at least within a reasonable doubt). You have to prove that the crime was not motivated by “hate”. Basically, justice is no longer blind in hate crime cases.

      1. Not true. Straight men are a protected class because the law defines “hate” as being based on sexual orientation. So a straight male could pursue a hate crime claim.

        But your larger point is valid. “Hate crimes” punish thought, not the act, and carry the implicit suggestion that killing or maiming someone for no stated reason, or for a non-prohibited reason, is somehow less serious and “not hateful.”

        To me, killing someone in itself is pretty clearly an act of hate…

        1. To me, killing someone in itself is pretty clearly an act of hate…

          But what if I just love to kill?

        2. Not all sexual orientations are considered equal. Even while calling for hate crime laws, the same people are persecuting others for their sexual orientation.

          To attack pedophilia is to attack humanity itself – an attraction to pedomorphic traits is an essential part of neoteny, the evolutionary process by which humanity became intelligent and cooperative. Nonetheless, both liberal and conservative are hell bent on tearing their nation apart and returning humanity to the state of our pre-human ancestors.

          http://www.wired.com/wiredscie…..stication/

      2. The whole hate crime thing is especially galling to us peds. Here we’re told that it’s a terrible thing to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation, but the state is pursuing a policy of genocide and psychological torture against us merely because of who we find attractive. Even non-peds who speak out in our defense, such as Phillip Greaves, are hauled off to jail for clearly protected speech, and successfully prosecuted. All the civil institutions that are supposed to protect our rights are silent.

        But we’re supposed to have special laws to protect people who aren’t facing that kind of discrimination, from having their feelings hurt?

        I feel for them, but maybe persecuting people for their thoughts (and sexual orientation) is a bad idea.

        Link:

        Some actual facts related to America’s most hated minority –
        http://www.b4uact.org/

        1. I see your larger point, but there is a major issue here. It’s obviously one of the ability to consent to sexual acts. There is clearly some time period in a child’s life in which they are unable to reasonably consent to very few things, and certainly not to sexual acts. I think we can all agree on the fact that a 5 year old is mentally incapable of consenting to sexual acts. For most, the age is certainly much higher. At the very least, let’s say 13. This is the minimum age at which certain states deem a minor to be mentally competent of standing trial as an adult. So it seems like a good cutoff.

          We could argue about whether this number should be raised or lowered. The broader point is that, until reaching some not insignificant age, a child is completely incapable of consenting to sexual encounters. Initiating sex with them is a violation of their individual rights.

          1. We have consent laws for a very good reason – to protect those who are incapable of self-determination. To argue that these laws shouldn’t exist is preposterous.

            No civic institutions are supposed to exist to protect the “right” to violate the rights of others. In fact, the age of consent laws, at their most basic level, work to protect rights. Maybe they need an update, but I see no fundamental reason for which they should be completely done away with.

            1. Btw, what the fuck is this new 900 character limit about? Fuck you, Reason.

              1. One should probably also note that 13 year olds are only tried as adults in extraordinary circumstance – if they’ve committed a heinous violent crime, have a massive juvenile record, etc.

    2. if there is even one horny bastard horny enough to do her, than you can’t say he has been set up.
      And there is always one guy willing to do the uglest ho there.

  8. “Hate crimes” are just another example of progressives successfully using the power of the state to make non-conformance with their ideology a crime. Making one’s beliefs a substantive element of the offense is simply Orwellian. That being said, there is a legitimat argument that someone who commits a crime motivated by hatred for a particular group is more likely to be a danger to society than someone who commits a crime out of momentary passion. The way to handle that is in the sentencing phase, where you get more time if you are more dangerous.

    1. there is a legitimat argument that someone who commits a premeditated crime motivated by hatred for a particular group is more likely to be a danger to society than someone who commits a crime out of momentary passion

      And that difference is already deeply entrenched in the law.

      Any difference in the potential danger of so-called hate crimes versus non-hate crimes is that a politically favored group might be more likely to be targeted. The overall danger to society is NOT increased by a crime being a “hate” crime.

    2. So why don’t non-liberals organize to scrap these crazy “hate” crime laws?

      The way to handle this is to do away for once and for all with “hate” crime legislation.

      1. Agreed, it is amazing how people want special treatment and pander for votes.

  9. Making one’s beliefs a substantive element of the offense is simply Orwellian.

    This is the difference between hate crimes and other crimes that turn on mental state. In different degrees of crimes like murder, the distinction is between the intention to do the crime (premeditated intent to kill v heat of the moment v negligence), not the reason for doing the crime. Even when crimes for profit sometimes get a higher penalty, we are looking at motive as opposed to the political/social/cultural beliefs of the criminal.

    Sure, it gets foggy at the edges, but the distinction is still real.

    1. So how is hating someone not a motive? I really think that you’re twisting around to make a distinction where there is none. If Clementi weren’t gay would this have happened at all? Would Ravi have been motivated to hold someone straight up to public ridicule?

      1. Motive is mostly irrelevant to crimes. People confuse motive (the reason a crime was committed) with intention (the mental state that led to the crime being committed), probably because they watch too much NCIS.

        Look at murder. In first-degree murder, what matters is whether the crime was premeditated, not why the crime was committed. See the difference? Now, knowing why the crime was committed can help the prosecution convince the jury it was premeditated, but “motive”, as opposed to “intention” is just not an element of crimes.

        Intention is important for a lot of reasons (google “mens rea” if you want to know more). Punishing people depending on their reasons, though, is something we have not done.

        1. I watch NCIS for only for the goth chick, in case you’re wondering.

          I take your point, though.

      2. If Clementi weren’t gay would this have happened at all?

        If by “this” you mean Ravi being harshly prosecuted and punished or Ravi being blamed in any way for Clementi’s suicide, then the answer is, of course, a resounding “no” and therein lies the problem.

        Was Ravi trying to publicly ridicule Clementi? Was Ravi trying to ridicule Clementi because he was gay?

        I know when I was in college, I knew people who blew off steam and annoyance by complaining about being kicked out of their rooms by their roommate’s romantic interludes. Hell, I knew people who complained about roommate romantic interludes being openly conducted with them in the room, sometimes when they were trying to study or get sleep before the day of an exam.

        Never had anything to do with gays or anything beyond annoyance.

        Why isn’t Clementi’s suicide being blamed on the actual perpetrator?

        1. I only complained about not getting to join in. And than I would complain that the women would complain that my willie was too small. Now that is a hate crime – motive and intent to “belittle” me.

          1. I’m also in to belittling sometimes, but it is always hard for the other party to make believable insults upon the initial introduction.

  10. Sounds like a rock solid plan to me dude, WOw.

    http://www.Gone-Anon.tk

  11. The sooner you inbred closet-gay hillbillies stop fucking your moms, the sooner we can eliminate stereotyping and discrimination.

    1. I knew Dharun Ravi was a hillbilly because of his name.

    2. eliminate stereotyping and discrimination

      That implies that people fully learn all other people’s idiosyncrasies and even before that, and despite of that, perceive all people as the same.

      Not very likely.

      1. Most of human intelligence is the recognition of patterns. Expecting people to turn off their automatic mental search for patterns when thinking about people is not realistic. Eliminating stereotypes is a utopian fantasy.

  12. Some say that being charged with a hate crime is legitimate because, like a murder-for-hire charge where the defendant didn’t actually committ the murder, there is still an element of intent – in the murder case, the intent to have the victim killed, and in a case like the Ravi one, the intent to intimidate or ridicule. But I maintain that there’s a key distinction between the two: in the case of murder-for-hire, despite not having actually committed the murder the defendant still acted, i.e. solicited and hired someone to carry out his wishes. So the point is, a defendant should be charged for his actions, not his beliefs or nebulous “intent.”

  13. taking a dump sorry

  14. “Prosecutors argue that on both occasions Ravi committed (or attempted) an invasion-of-privacy offense”

    Where is the victim to press charges on this? Affected person does not press charges, no crime.

    1. I believe the state represents the victim’s interests in some crimes.

      1. Obvious idiot misses the distinction.

  15. The best argument I’ve ever heard for hate crime law was from the infamous joe, who said that the purpose of perpetrating a hate crime was to intimidate third parties. My reply was fine, prove in court such intimidation took place and you have a case for that. Now, one might surmise that bigotted aggression automatically has that purpose, but when the evidence for such is based on unrelated statements about his beliefs made by the perpetrator (unrelated to the case, that is), that pretty much belies the notion that anything of the sort is being proven, or is even attempted to be.

    All that said, Jacob would have a more cogent article were private statements of bigotry actually being used in court rather than having to speculate about such.

  16. Good to know that New Jersey has successfully stamped out all violent crime, so that they can now focus on the important issue of dorm room assholery.

    1. An awesome thing to do is tightly winding a long continuous wire around the doorknobs on a number of doors along a hallway early in the morning.

    2. Another awesome thing to do is bring your girlfriend along with her hot friend to visit, tell your room mate that he should sleep somewhere else for one night because the hot friend needs to sleep in your room mate’s bed, and then let some other asshole fuck her in your room mate’s bed when it could have been your room mate sleeping in his own bed and fucking your girlfriend’s hot friend that night.

  17. So, being gay is natural, normal and an okay life style; right? And, presumably, so is being straight; right? (At least for now; check back after the ’12 elections.) If someone video’d me at that age, kissing etc a woman, I would have probably been a bit embarassed – wasn’t a member of the kiss and tell generation – but suicide for that reason? Fat chance. But equally okay smooching etc with a man is going to push me into suicide if I’m gay? What? Huh? And such a video is going to prove that I’m utterly different from ‘everbody else’??? Will all the GLBTQ .. whatever the initials are .. all over Rutgers and other college campuses, I’d be shocked to find that this gay young man is any different from the others. I wonder how the prosecution is going to get from being stupid to being criminal; there’s an evidentiary problem for them.

  18. I’m against hate laws but Christ what’s with all of the foil heads posting? Bunch of “gay=leftist” conspiracy chatter. GAYS ARE NOT OUT TO GET YOU. I’m gay and if I were apart of some conspiracy I would have the money to do better things than sitting here posting on the internet.

  19. Defense attorneys for Ravi made a motion for a mistrial in Superior Court on Thursday, claiming that the prosecution improperly spoke with Lokesh Ojha between a break in his testimony.

    Berman denied the motion for a mistrial, saying that the prosecution spoke with Ojha only regarding two photos that they showed him on Thursday to try to correct Ojha’s statement that the secret webcam was on top of Ravi’s computer, not inside of it.

    Altman and assist. def. att. Philip Nettl argued existing case law to Berman in their motion for a mistrial and claimed that the prosecution’s contact with Ojha in the middle of his cross examination ?carried over from Wednesday to Thursday morning ? affected their ability to “effectively cross” Ojha since Ojha was being rehabilitated in the middle of it by the state.

    What would the defense have gained if the Judge had ruled this a mistrial?

  20. I’m gay and I agree that the charges against Dharun are unfair. And I agree with the premise here that one should not face a conviction on the basis of an opinion. Gay bullying is awful and should be punished but where was the bullying here? Dharun might be guilty of a bit of voyeurism but it was his own cam in his own room. His action or misdeed is small potatoes, while the suicide of Tyler is more reflective of what was wrong with Tyler. This case against Dharun is total nonsense.

  21. It’s also disappointing to note that no matter how much you support equality, you can be labeled “homophobic” or “racist” solely for bringing up the topic of hate crime legislation and its relation to free speech.

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