Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Interesting Case

From State of Washington v Tony Smith: "A jury found Tony Smith guilty of three counts of burglary in the second degree. At trial, an officer who had viewed surveillance videos of the burglaries and a photo of Smith testified that he believed the burglaries were all committed by the same person. On appeal, Smith asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the officer's testimony. We conclude that the trial court did abuse its discretion in admitting the officer's testimony because the detective had no other contacts with Smith, and was in no better position to identify Smith than the jury. But because the evidence was overwhelming as to two of the three convictions, we reverse and remand only one conviction. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand."

Click here to read the whole ruling.


1 comment:

Conservation Law Enforcement said...

This is similar to the situation here in Australia.

In Smith v The Queen (2001) HCA 50, the appellant was charged with bank robbery. A fact in issue on the trial was whether the appellant was the person depicted in some photographs taken by bank security cameras. Two police officers gave similar evidence, each saying that he had had previous dealings with the appellant and that he recognised the person depicted in the bank photographs as the accused.

The High Court of Australia ruled that the evidence should not have been admitted as the evidence given by police officers (that they recognised the appellant in photos taken by a bank security camera) was founded on material no different from material available to the jury from its own observation.