Monday, March 17, 2014
Victims' Rights: Tennessee Bill Would Allow Prosecutors to Introduce Pictures of Unavailable Violent Crime Victims
The proposed piece of legislation would amend current state law and allow during a trial pictures of a violent crime victim if the victim is unable to testify or be present.
In connection with the bill, Knox County Assistant District Attorney John Gill, Jr. issued the following statement:
"Tennessee DAS are strongly in support of the legislation allowing photos from life of a homicide victim to be admitted in evidence in a trial. Under the current law, the defendant is present before the jury, while the victim is an abstract figure, totally outside the sight of the jury. This law would allow a jury to more fully appreciate that the victim was once a real and alive."
Conversely, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney Greg Isaacs said in a statement,
"Victims have a right to be heard, however there's a danger that a picture will be used for the purpose of creating sympathy as opposed to the purpose of the rules of evidence and rues of criminal procedure."
The complete text of the bill is below the jump.
SENATE BILL 1726
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39 and Title 40, relative to criminal law and procedure.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 40-38-103, is amended by adding the following as a new subsection (c):
(c) In cases involving the death of the victim or where the victim of a violent crime is unable to be present or to testify at a hearing because of the victim’s existing physical or mental illness or infirmity, a photograph depicting the victim prior to the crime shall be admitted at trial, to be entered during the state’s case-in-chief, if such photograph is submitted by the prosecution and is a reasonable depiction of the victim.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014, the public welfare requiring it.