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Dharun Ravi Wants Hate Crime Convictions Dismissed

A former Rutgers University student who was convicted of hate crimes for using a webcam to see a snippet of his roommate kissing another man is asking a judge to overturn the jury’s verdict.

Dharun Ravi
Dharun Ravi (Facebook)

Lawyers for 20-year-old Dharun Ravi spelled out their position in a court filing Tuesday, saying the jury got it wrong.

PREVIOUS: Jury Finds Dharun Ravi  Guilty

In a legal filing Tuesday, Dharun Ravi’s lawyers said the jury convicted him in March despite evidence that he was not guilty of invading the privacy or intimidating roommate Tyler Clementi, who killed himself days after the webcam was used.

And on the most disputed and serious charges — bias intimidation — the lawyers say the law was misused. On some of those counts, the jury found that Ravi did not mean to intimidate Clementi or the other man, but that Clementi reasonably believed he did. Jurors said as much both in their findings in court and in comments afterward to journalists. Copies of some news articles were included with the brief to support Ravi’s lawyers’ position.

“To criminalize a defendant for a victim’s mistaken belief about the defendant’s motive would turn the bias intimidation statute into a mockery of itself,” wrote the lawyers, Steven Altman and Philip Nettl. It is standard practice for lawyers to ask for a judge to overturn a conviction after a jury delivers it. In Ravi’s case, the request is for the judge to acquit Ravi entirely — or at least grant him a new trial.

The lawyers said that the jury was wrong on invasion of privacy charges because the snippets video that Ravi and others saw did not show sexual acts or nudity.

Jurors found Ravi guilty of all 15 counts associated with using his webcam to spy on roommate Tyler Clementi in September 2010. Clementi killed himself days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His death brought attention to cyberbullying and the treatment of young gays.

Ravi could face 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

Ravi’s lawyers are asking for a judge to acquit him — or at least grant a new trial.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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