July 11, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

In Tyler Clementi webcam case, bias conviction overturned

clemBREAKING:  Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate recorded and then released a video of him having sex with another man.  The video went viral among Rutger’s University students and Clementi then jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

The case became a national sensation and has had a national impact, forcing administrators to take bullying and LGBT issues more seriously.

Here is how NJ.com reported the overturning of the bias conviction:

NEWARK — Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi has won his appeal seeking to overturn his convictions in the Tyler Clementi webcam case.

The appellate court sided with Ravi’s attorneys who had argued he never should have been charged with bias crimes and his convictions should be reversed. The court also ordered a new trial saying Ravi could not have received a fair trial as the bias evidence “permeated the trial.” 

“It’s far from over,” Ravi’s attorney Steven Altman said Friday morning. “I’m extraordinarily pleased with the decision. I haven’t spoken with the Ravi family yet, but I can only imagine they’re pleased as well.” 

The appellate decision arrives four years after Ravi’s conviction on several counts of bias intimidation and other charges following a highly publicized trial in New Brunswick, which put a national spotlight on cyber bullying.

Clementi, of Ridgewood, who was Ravi’s dorm mate at Rutgers University when the two were freshmen, jumped off the George Washington Bridge several days after the bullying incidents in September 2010 in which Ravi set up a remote webcam that spied on Clementi while he was having an intimate encounter with another man.

Ravi was not charged in Clementi’s death and his defense maintained the webcam incidents had nothing to do with Clementi’s decision to commit suicide. He was sentenced — and has already served — his 30-day sentence, three years of probation and 300 hours of community service.

After Ravi’s conviction in 2012, the state Supreme Court in a separate case struck down part of the state’s bias crime statute that focused on the victim’s state of mind. According to that case, it is the defendant’s state of mind and intent that is important, not the victim’s.

Dharun Ravi’s lawyers will try to reverse his convictions in the Tyler Clementi webcam case today in an appeals court.

The appellate court said the prosecution conceded in its oral arguments four of Ravi’s bias convictions should “be void as a matter of law,” and, accordingly, dismissed those charges with prejudice. The court also dismissed Ravi’s conviction on hindering his own apprehension and tampering with witnesses.

Altman previously said the Supreme Court’s decision on the anti-bias statute directly strikes down one of Ravi’s convictions and also brought into question decisions made by the trial judge, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, who is now retired. Berman permitted the prosecution to produce evidence of Tyler Clementi’s state of mind to the jury.

“The State used evidence revealing the victim’s reserved demeanor and expressions of shame and humiliation as a counterweight to defendant’s cavalier indifference and unabashed insensitivity to his roommate’s right to privacy and dignity,” the appellate court said in its ruling. “The prosecutor aggressively pressed this point to the jury in her eloquent closing argument.”

It continued: “It is unreasonable to expect a rational juror to remain unaffected by this evidence.”

The court also rejected the prosecution’s argument that Ravi should have received a stiffer sentence. 

Altman said the prosecution now has 20 days to decide whether or not to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Depending on what the prosecution decides, he said, it will then be a matter of whether “we can work something out in a mutually acceptable way.”

Messages placed to the Clementi family and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Friday have not yet been returned.”

Related Posts

Local Leaders Celebrate Supreme Court LGBT Discrimination Ban

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

Supreme Court votes 6-3 in case Bostock v. Clayon County, Georgia By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles-area leaders are celebrating the...

City of West Hollywood’s ‘One City One Pride’ LGBTQ Arts Festival

June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

Features a ‘virtual platform’ for arts and cultural events: May 22 through June 30 By Staff Writer Each year, the...

North Hollywood Gay Latino Bar ‘Cobra’ Closed for Business

June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

Instead adopts virtual entertainment method By Toi Creel The effect of COVID -19 has not only taken a toll on...

LA Pride Pulls out of Black Lives Matter March Facing Backlash

June 10, 2020

June 10, 2020

LA Pride organizers face backlash after seeking police permit By Sam Catanzaro L.A. Pride will not be involved in an...

Requiring CA to Collect Data on COVID-19’s Health Impacts on the LGTBQ Community?

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Currently, California collects data on COVID-19’s impacts on different races/ethnicities; SB 932 would expand this data collection to include the...

How COVID-19 Impacts Black LGBTQ+ People

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Amidst horrifying racial disparities, “COVID While Black and Queer” is a new data initiative that will shine a light on...

PBS Celebrates Pride Month with PRIDELAND

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Short-Form Digital Series and New One-Hour Special with Host and Actor Dyllón Burnside, Exploring LGBTQ+ Identity in the U.S. South...

Covid-19 & HIV: Who Are You Choosing To Be?

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

By Staff Writer A free zoom seminar this Friday, May 15, 2020 from 12:00-2:00pm. This weeks event covers Covid-19, HIV:...

CA Attorney General Urges FDA to Eliminate Bias Against Gay and Bisexual Men for Blood Donations

April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a multistate coalition in submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human...

Over 1,000 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed as WEHO’s Rate Continues to Rise

April 23, 2020

April 23, 2020

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed over 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus...

GLAAD to Host COVID-19 Event Featuring Pete Buttigieg and More

April 22, 2020

April 22, 2020

LAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, announced that Billy Porter, Pete &...

Over 500 Medical Professionals Sign Letter The FDA To Eliminate Ban On Gay And Bisexual Men Donating Blood

April 16, 2020

April 16, 2020

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today released an open letter penned by over...

Lawmakers Ask State and Counties to Collect Data on LGBTQ Community and COVID-19

April 14, 2020

April 14, 2020

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria, Chair and Vice-Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus respectively, sent...

WeHo’s High COVID-19 Rate

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

City of West Hollywood has highest rate of COVID-19 in LA Countywide, LGBTQ population at risk By Sam Catanzaro As...

Elderly LGBT people in California at high risk for COVID-19 illness

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

By Staff Writer 162,000 LGB and 9,000 transgender elderly people in California at high risk for COVID-19 illness, according to...