I See Dead People: Examining the Admissibility of Living-Victim Photographs in Murder Trials
This Note examines the problems with the rising yet underexplored trend in state evidence law of “Living-Victim Photo Statutes.” Photographs of a victim while alive would be—and often have been—excluded from evidence during a trial as lacking relevance or being unfairly prejudicial. Tennessee’s 2015 statute mandating the admissibility of such photographs during the guilt phase of homicide trials has eviscerated these balancing considerations, taking admissibility determinations out of the hands of judges. Though this statute and similar state statutes around the country have effectively amended rules of evidence, the considerations under which they were passed were largely normative, emotional, and based on concerns for victims’ families in the trial process and not Due Process for defendants. This Note seeks to explore and demonstrate the evidentiary and constitutional problems with these living-victim photo statutes.
J.D. Candidate, 2017, Vanderbilt University Law School; B.A., 2014, University of Mississippi.