Thursday, October 12, 2006
In Michigan, a Macomb County Circuit judge ruled this morning that graphic crime scene photos can be admitted as evidence against an accused murderer. The defense attorney, of course, argued that the photos would prejudice the jury against his client, while the prosecutor argued that the jury needed to see the photos.
Crime scene photos, like other forms of demonstrative evidence, are routinely the subject of 403 objections, but in most circuits, typically the gruesome nature of the photo isn't enough to render the photo inadmissible; the analysis usually hinges on whether the photo is relevant to a disputed point or assists a jury in a factual determination. For example, in this case, graphic photos were admissible because the defendant was charged with mayhem and the photos related to an element of mayhem, which requires a showing that the body was seriously disfigured by mutilation. Here's another case collecting some law (which may not be current) from various circuits about the admissibility of graphic photographs. [None of the above is legal advice] [Michele Berry]