SURF

Jesse Clements

Moving-Image Evidence in the Turn-of-the-Century Courtroom

New technologies such as police body cameras and deepfake algorithms have recently put questions of photographys value as evidence in the spotlight. However, photographic technologies have been part of the courtroom since the mid-nineteenth century. This project turns to the emergence of photography and cinema as evidentiary tools in the courtroom in an attempt to uncover the preconditions of our current moment of mediated justice. I will assist my graduate student mentor in advancing the larger project by constructing a newspaper archive for significant early court cases involving moving-image evidence, seeking to answer the question of how film entered American courtrooms. This will involve writing summaries of cases, compiling timelines of events, and identifying significant characters. The work will initially draw from campus collections and online newspaper databases. There will also be the opportunity to undertake further research at other local institutions in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

Message to Sponsor

Being part of the SURF-SMART program this summer has been one of the most impactful parts of my Berkeley experience. Im so glad that I got this opportunity to do such in-depth research and work so closely with my graduate mentor, Tory Jeffay. Through our work I learned so much about research process and methods as well answering a lot of my own questions about graduate schools and academic work. I feel very lucky to have been part of such interesting research, that bridged historical and archival work with many highly relevant and pressing contemporary discussions. My work this summer has been a huge source of academic growth as well as inspiration for future research and academic direction.
  • Major: Rhetoric
  • Sponsor: Johnson Fund
  • Mentor: Tory Jeffay