Increasingly, crime victims’ families are using multimedia software to add emotion to impact statements, putting the spotlight on the role these high-technology statements play in the criminal justice system, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In some cases, lawyers are engaging in debate about the propriety of using high-tech tools to influence judges.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has noted the growth of multimedia victim impact statements, but the organization has no objections to them. “It’s the wave of the future,” said Jack King, communications director for the Washington, D.C.,-based organization. Some criminal defense attorneys say that allowing victims to turn sentencing hearings into virtual memorial services goes too far, and could prompt a legal challenge. “I don’t know what purpose is being served, other than to stir emotions,” said St. Paul defense attorney Michael Lorenz. Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said complaints by defense attorneys are “nonsense.”Our society’s whole way of expression has changed dramatically, and almost every sphere of communication is multimedia,” she said. “So why shouldn’t crime victims be able to use those communications tools?” Legal organizations are studying victim impact statements and the effect they have.