The case of a former Rutgers student who is accused of criminal invasion of privacy is one I’ve been watching on this blog, but recently there’s been a second privacy issue embedded in the case – whether the identity of Tyler Clementi’s guest will be protected by the court or shielded.
In developments this week, Dharun Ravi turned down a plea deal and will go to trial in February. Given the public furor and interest in this case, I suspect he should have taken a plea deal, but I guess we’ll find out in due course whether going to trial is a gamble that pays off for him.
Of note, the judge in the case ruled today that Clementi’s guest’s name should be provided to the defense team, “with the caveat that they not give that information to anyone else.” According to a news report by Associated Press, the student, who has been identified only as “M.B.” in court documents, intends to appeal that ruling.
I’m not surprised by the ruling because of the Sixth Amendment, but unless the prosecutor plans to call the student/guest (and what evidence could he provide if he didn’t know they were being viewed?), then why does the defense need his details? Couldn’t the prosecution and defense agree to leave this young man out of it all? Does the justice system really need to cause a privacy “outing” in the interests of justice?