Motion for New Trial Filed in Rutgers Spycam Case

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

Dharun Ravi has filed motions seeking acquittal or a new trial following the March 16 jury verdict finding him guilty of various charges, including third-degree invasion of privacy and New Jersey’s 2001 “bias intimidation” law, which carries a presumption of incarceration for five to 10 years.  Ravis claims that the jury verdict was not supported by the evidence necessary for a conviction under this law, which, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1, requires prosecutors to show that a defendant committed the underlying offense  “with a purpose to intimidate an individual or a group of individuals,” “knowing that the conduct…would cause the individual or group of individuals to be intimidated” or “under circumstances” that caused intimidation or made the victim reasonably believe the purpose was to intimidate.  Proof that the underlying act was motivated by sexual orientation allows the fact-finder to make an inference that it was done with an intimidating purpose. Ravi’s argued that there was no evidence of bias toward the victim, Tyler Clementi, or toward homosexuals in general, and that in fact there was repeated testimony that Ravi lacked bias.  They specifically contend that there was no evidence of intimidation on the part of Ravi, and that the “reasonable belief” part of the bias intimidation statute impermissibly and unconstitutionally criminalizes conduct regardless of a defendant’s state of mind. If Judge Glenn Berman does not grant an acquittal, Ravi may seek a new trial on various grounds, including the prosecutors’ withholding of materials that could have shed light on Clementi’s state of mind, the judge’s failure to provide a limiting jury instruction clarifying that Clementi’s suicide should not have been considered evidence of bias intimidation, and jurors’ statements to the media demonstrating the jury’s misunderstanding of the law. 

Ravi’s is the first-known conviction under the 2001 bias intimidation statute, and his appeal will likely be the first appellate test of this law.  New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will want to pay close attention to the controversial and potentially groundbreaking legal issues involved in this case as the matter continues to unfold. 

For any questions about this case, or about the 2001 bias intimidation law more generally, please call New Jersey criminal lawyers Schwartz & Posnock at (732) 544-1460.


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