« Are SCOTUS rulings in Lafler and Frye as revolutionary as Gideon? | Main | Should Florida's Gov have appointed a black (or Hispanic) prosecutor to take over the Trayvon Martin case? »

March 23, 2012

"Ravi media tour carries risks at sentencing, experts say"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting local article spotlighting some of the potential sentencing pros and cons of a high-profile defendant going to the media after a high-profile conviction.  Here are excerpts:

As Dharun Ravi embarks on high-stakes media interviews — an attempt to tell his story, recast his image and perhaps influence his sentencing in the wake of a guilty verdict — the path is riddled with risk, legal and public relations experts say.

The 20-year-old former Rutgers student from Plainsboro, who did not take the stand during his criminal trial, is now making his case to the public, his attorney by his side. While this could galvanize support, it also positions Ravi for missteps and miscalculations, the experts say.

“There is a lot of risk of backfiring,” said Louis Raveson, a professor at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, who added that he was surprised that Ravi granted interviews. “It depends both on the content of what he says and how he comes across.” Raveson added, “To me, it’s an act of desperation.”

In his two interviews so far, Ravi maintains his innocence while expressing remorse and disavows direct responsibility for Tyler Clementi’s death while acknowledging that he “wasn’t thinking.” Ravi said he was not motivated by anti-gay sentiment when he invited others to view a planned webcast of Clementi, his freshman-year roommate, and a male companion, identified only as M.B.

“At that point, I got caught up in what I thought was funny, and my own ego,” Ravi told The Star-Ledger in an interview that was published on Thursday. “I never really thought about what it would mean to Tyler. I know that’s wrong, but that’s the truth.”

But Ravi told the ABC television network news program “20/20” in several excerpts released on Thursday that the trial convinced him that his webcam spying did not directly lead to Clementi’s death. “After all this time and reading his conversations and how and what he was doing before, I really don’t think he cared at all,” Ravi said in the interview, which will be broadcast tonight. “I feel like I was an insignificant part to his life. That’s giving me comfort now.”...

A carefully worded interview generally poses less risk than a cross-examination at the hands of a prosecutor. “Sitting down with newspapers and television does give Mr. Ravi the opportunity to put a much more human face on the defense than I think came through during the course of the trial,” said Robert A. Mintz, a Newark lawyer and former federal prosecutor, who felt Ravi came off as more “compassionate” in his interview with The Star-Ledger.

Still, Mintz said, it’s impossible to know whether these interviews would have any impact on sentencing, which is scheduled for May 21....

Ravi also runs the risk that a media blitz could be perceived as spin. “There are two different courts, the court of law and the court of public opinion,” said Mike Paul, who runs the New York public relations firm MGPŸ&ŸAssociates. In both arenas, Paul said, authenticity is critical.

He draws a contrast between Ravi’s public statements about his own immaturity and his statements about the case. The former, Paul said, seem genuine, clarifying the tremendous discomfort between the two roommates. But the fact that Ravi was interviewed under an attorney’s watch, using legal terminology like “bias” and “plea bargain,” won’t do him any favors, Paul said.

March 23, 2012 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201676423ad1e970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Ravi media tour carries risks at sentencing, experts say":

Comments

"The 20-year-old former Rutgers student from Plainsboro, who did not take the stand during his criminal trial, is now making his case to the public, his attorney by his side."

You gotta love defendants who clam up at trial, unwilling to face the requirements of oath and cross-examination, but then do a media tour, "his attorney by his side."

Q: What's the best way to spot a liar?

A: Look for a guy who won't talk when he can be asked questions about what he's saying, but is happy to yack it up with the press, within limits (he sets), "his attorney by his side."

What he's actually doing is proving with every word what a dodging sleaze he is. Get this: He "maintains his innocence while expressing remorse and disavows direct responsibility for Tyler Clementi’s death while acknowledging that he 'wasn’t thinking.'"

That's just classic defense BS. He "wasn't thinking," even though it took him some trouble to set up this spying system, he held a viewing party, and the only conceivable reason he could have done this was to humiliate the victim because he was gay and make his life miserable.

He can be thankful I was not his prosecutor.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 23, 2012 11:45:11 AM

i'm going to have to go with bill on this one!

I take it him and his lawyer missed the news reports about the other idiot who added YEARS to their sentence for a 2 sec statment on the court house steps!

this fool may get life!

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 23, 2012 1:42:54 PM

I can't believe "bias intimidation" is a state felony. Why not ban intimidation altogether? That way, states can save money on all these high school and college sports programs where larger players intimidate smaller players with their wicked "sizeism"? Geesh, we're become a bunch of wimps.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Mar 23, 2012 4:15:15 PM

Thinkaboutit --

When you sign up for the football team, you sign up for the intimidation that comes with football. When you sign up for a room at college, you do NOT sign up to be spied upon and humiliated by some guy who thinks gays exist for his sick amusement.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 23, 2012 5:02:12 PM

lol only one problem think!

IF we banned intimidation....govt at all lvl's would have to give up plea bargains and pretty much close down!

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 23, 2012 7:39:14 PM

Bill, I think the jackwagon invaded the guy's privacy in the worst possible way. He was charged and convicted of that and I have no problem with it. But bias intimidation is a ridiculous crime. You don't have to sign up for a sports team to be intimidated by your peers from childhood onward. Gym class is something you do not sign up for. I am not defending the guy, but I hate dumb, PC, catch-all criminal laws.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Mar 23, 2012 9:05:43 PM

Thinkaboutit --

"I am not defending the guy, but I hate dumb, PC, catch-all criminal laws."

You'll get no argument from me there.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 23, 2012 10:28:34 PM

i agree too. He should have been charged with involuntary manslaugher at a min. His conduct Caused this individual's DEATH.

don't need a PC charge for it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 24, 2012 12:58:30 AM

"“There is a lot of risk of backfiring,” said Louis Raveson, a professor at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, who added that he was surprised that Ravi granted interviews."


You mean like this statement he gave?


“After all this time and reading his conversations and how and what he was doing before, I really don’t think he cared at all,” Ravi said in the interview, which will be broadcast tonight. “I feel like I was an insignificant part to his life. That’s giving me comfort now.”...

Posted by: Res ipsa | Mar 24, 2012 2:52:28 PM

Thinkaboutit--

Is it your contention that a choice to intimidate based upon one's race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. is no substantively different than generic intimidation?

In my view, there are significant social impacts that result from bias intimidation that do not result from intimidation generally. I see no reason why those impacts cannot be factored into the crime. Same goes for hate crimes--there is an inherently worse destruction to the fabric of society when people are singled out because of a phenotypical, sexual, or religious characteristic than if it was a personal vendetta.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Mar 24, 2012 2:58:41 PM

Yes, Res Ipsa, that is my contention. I think hate crimes laws are thought crimes and the whole enterprise of policing views is scary to me. And the example I gave was a big football players in gym class intimidating a smaller one who - because of his genes, not his choice - is small in stature. Do we want to excuse the strong from intimidating the weak? I think the "fabric of society" argument is weak.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Mar 24, 2012 11:31:42 PM

Thinkaboutit--

Fair enough...I guess it ultimately comes down to whether you view hate crimes as thought crimes or as impact crimes. I've been on both sides of the fence during my life but currently fall in the latter camp.

I think the difference between a white targeting a black for assaulting or killing and a strong person bullying a weak person is that the former is a social identity, whereas the latter is not. And that's where I think the social harm comes in.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Mar 25, 2012 2:26:29 PM

Nancy Grace: "... When you sign up for a room at college, you do NOT sign up to be spied upon and humiliated by some guy who thinks gays exist for his sick amusement."

Wow... something I can actually agree with.

I may have bought his claim that he was using the web cam to watch his room, had he not texted people telling them to watch what Tyler Clementi was doing.

What Ravi did was bullying at its worst. Put him in jail, then deport him.

Posted by: Huh? | Mar 25, 2012 10:39:30 PM

Wow. All of the authoritarians in the room lined up together! It would be touching if it wasn't so frightening.

Really, this was a stupid and sad prank from a dumb asshole kid. But I'm supposed to believe that for this he deserves ten years and deportation? Really? This is good policy?

At least he wasn't charged with a homicide offense. Small mercies, I suppose.

Posted by: Ohio PD | Mar 26, 2012 9:04:46 AM

Ohio PD --

"Wow. All of the authoritarians in the room lined up together!"

Ah, yes. Those in favor of punishing this guy are "authoritarians." Of course, those favoring punishment for ANYONE are "authoritarians," wouldn't you say? At least you haven't called your adversaries Nazis -- but on the other hand, it's only 10:40.

"It would be touching if it wasn't so frightening."

Think about getting some original material.

"Really, this was a stupid and sad prank from a dumb asshole kid. But I'm supposed to believe that for this he deserves ten years and deportation? Really?"

STUPID!!! DUMB!!! Yes, everything but what it actually was -- vicious and malevolent. The "stupid" and "dumb" refrain is just stock PD stuff in order to make malice seem like just a lapse of intellect.

If you had a client who was gay, you'd be the first one claiming that whatever he did was caused by years of abuse and turmoil created by societal discrimination. But if the victim is gay, hey, c'mon guys, it was only a "dumb prank."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 26, 2012 10:40:51 AM

why not Ohio PD. 1 min of stupidity in american can get you life in prison! and that's for an ACCIDENT! This was premeditated and planned!

sorry he needs to thank god he's not dead!

If he'd been MY roommate he would be.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 26, 2012 10:49:45 AM

Ohio "PD": "Really, this was a stupid and sad prank from a dumb asshole kid."

A prank is putting shaving cream in your buddies hand while he's sleeping, and tickling his face to get him to smear the shaving cream all over his face.

I am not going to get into the privacy concerns I have with it.

This jerk broadcasted an intimate moment between two people with the sole purposes of demeaning the parties involved. Why else would he have texted people and allowed them access to watch?

I hold no affinity for bullies. Maybe you're that type of guy, which would explain why it is you can't comprehend how abhorrent it is to do something like that.

Posted by: Huh? | Mar 26, 2012 10:24:37 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB