Nino Scalia Meets Bullitt

Fast car chases are a staple of every action film ((I leave it to the dweebs to debate whether Bullitt, French Connection or Ronin takes the medal.)) What is unusual is for the US Supreme Court to be confronted with such a clip. If this doesn’t work, try Youtube 1 and Youtube 2

The case was Scott v. Harris

All but one of the nine justices viewed the tape of the chase before the hearing, and they were entranced by it, discussing it for most of the hearing. Most of the court seemed attracted to the plaintiff’s claim he was confronted by a really dangerous situation.

“He created the scariest chase I ever saw since ‘The French Connection,'” said Justice Antonin Scalia.

The defendant “created a tremendous risk (for) drivers on that road,” added Justice Alito.

“The question was whether he was creating a substantial risk” to other drivers, commented Justice David Souter. “How could a jury find otherwise?”

Justice Stevens dissented, to be met with the following footnote on the use of the video:

JUSTICE STEVENS suggests that our reaction to the videotape is somehow idiosyncratic, and seems to believe we are misrepresenting its contents. See post, at 4 (dissenting opinion) (“In sum, the factual statements by the Court of Appeals quoted by the Court . . . were entirely accurate”). We are happy to allow the videotape to speak for itself. See Record 36, Exh. A, available at and in Clerk of Court’s case file.

Has video been used in the SCC (outside of the videoconferenced leave applications)?


  1. A recent example from the Manitoba Court of Appeal may be found in R. v. V.J.T. et al., 2007 MBCA 45, which involved the sentencing of two young offenders for an offence that was caught on videotape. Specifically, the Court considered whether the offence should be designated as a “serious violent offence” under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Based on the videotape evidence, the offence was so designated.

  2. Dweeb sez: Ronin‘s car chase went on about three minutes too long, though it gets bonus points for the fact Jean Reno looks truly terrified. French Connection still gets my vote, although the extended freeway chase sequence in The Matrix: Reloaded deserves a vote, too.