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YouTube by reference

When Alexandria lawyer Vic Glasberg filed suit last November on behalf of a man claiming he was wrongfully assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy, he did something unusual, perhaps even novel and first-impression.

He incorporated a YouTube video as part of his complaint, providing the link in his complaint.

His client, he said, was standing in a submissive posture while talking to another deputy. The video was taken by the camera on the defendant’s cruiser.

The video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVN7s2pkkkI

The deputy, Terry Daniel, allegedly struck the plaintiff, Carlos Garcia, causing a mild traumatic brain injury.

Defense lawyer Alexander Francuzenko went after Glasberg’s use of YouTube in a pleading, filing a motion to dismiss.

He argued, among other things, that an Internet link is not stable enough and a posting is too tenuous a document to incorporate into a complaint.

Phooey, said Glasberg in response, although he used more legalistic language than that.

The court’s electronic filing system doesn’t allow parties to attach DVDs to pleadings, so he opted to post the video on YouTube, a widely accepted repository on the Internet.

He  noted that the video comes from the official dashboard camera on the defendant’s cruiser, and he said, “This case is rare in that liability in the matter is premised entirely on a video recording of the assault in question.”

After a hearing earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady denied the defense motion.

Rule 12(f) dictates the striking of any material that is “redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous,” but none of those scenarios apply here, the judge wrote in an order. And the defendant admitted in his answer that the video is indeed a recording of the events that prompted the lawsuit.

O’Grady said he found no authority to strike the incorporation of a YouTube video from a complaint; he added that his ruling did not address admissibility of the video, a fight for another day.

There you have it: according to a federal judge, you can use a YouTube video as part of a lawsuit. Look for others to use this technique, Glasberg said.

“I expect that this issue will arise more often as we become more used to the interaction of technology and law,” he said.

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