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A Treatise of the Law of Evidence in Criminal Issues
Francis Wharton, LL.D.
Philadelphia: Kay and Brother, 1880

    XIV. Inferences: Identity.

  1. Inference as to photographs
    § 805. We have already had occasion to observe that photographs, as well as pictures, are admissible, when duly verified, in order to identify both living and dead. 1 Their weight, however, when admitted, depends largely upon extraneous circumstances. Not only must they be verified, as has jut been noticed, but due allowance must be made for the fact that of some persons good photographs are rarely taken; that photographs taken of the same person in different lights or under different influences often do not resemble each other; and that photographs, as well as pictures, may be used as instruments of fraud. These considerations, however, go to the weight to be attached to the evidence when in. Of its right to be received as one of the circumstances from which identity can be determined, there is no question. 2 Photographs of scenery, when verified, are also admissible, though dependent, even more than photographs of faces, on the stand-point from which they are taken, and the conditions of light and shade under which they were made. In the Tichborne perjury case, the defence put in evidence a photograph of a "grotto," the character of which was involved in the issue; and this photograph was so unreliable as to invoke the severe criticism of the court. But the question of accuracy is for the jury: the photograph, if proved to be fairly taken from the disputed object, is clearly admissible. 3

  2. Identification by picture has been already noticed. *


  1. Supra, § 544.
  2. Supra, § 544; Ruloff v. People, 45 N. Y. 213-25; S. C., 5 Lansing, 261; and see also Marcy v. Barnes, 16 Gray, 161; Taylor Will case, 10 Abb. N. S. 300; 7 Alb. L. J. 50; Shaible v. Ins. Co. 9 Phila. 136; Whart. & St. Med. J. ii. § 1231. As to fallibility of photographs see Popular Science Monthly, April, 1875, p. 710; Morse's Famous Trials, 167; Udderzook v. Com. 76 Penn. St. 340; Appendix to Whart. on Hom.
  3. Morse's Famous Trials, 167.