(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this brain injury/car accident case and its proceedings.)
THE NIGHT TIME PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOTAPING ARE MISLEADING AS TO THE ACTUAL LIGHTING, WHAT THE PARTIES COULD SEE AND NOT SEE, AND THEREFORE SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED BY THE JURY IN THIS BRAIN INJURY CASE.
Photographs submitted as evidence should never be accepted as true and accurate or substantially similar representations without subjecting them to critical examination. The legitimate manipulation of photographic imagery is as old as photography itself. Retouching and restoring photographs has been an art form for over a century. Special effects for image manipulation methods are used throughout the entertainment industry and in Hollywood.
Consequently, it is not unusual for an attorney to legitimately ask whether a photograph or video has been doctored “in some way,” to emphasize certain details or subdue others. Photoshopping or eliminating images from photos or videos is a common art form now practiced by people on laptops with current software throughout society, especially with digitally recorded images.
Elements within an image can be fabricated, enhanced, distorted, shifted, cloned, erased or transferred quite easily, without a trace. The images can be “brightened up” or “darkened” with a turn of a knob, defying detection or scientific scrutiny. The camera never lies, or so it used to be.
Research has shown that there is a wide disparity between the physics of photography and the psychophysics of human perception especially at low-lighting conditions. It is questionable by the top experts in the field whether such an accurate depiction of what people see in low-level lighting can even be achieved no matter what the skill and tools of those trying to replicate the condition in a picture or a video.
Images can be manipulated and distorted intentionally or unintentionally and in the process, mislead the person looking at the evidence. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Try describing with words what a wheel and tire assembly is, as opposed to showing someone a photo of the same object. Trial lawyers know that a photograph taken at the scene of an accident, like the police photographs in this case, do more to convey the impact of the crash, its violence, and explaining why it happened, than words could ever describe. A jury can see the skid marks, for example. A jury can see the location of vehicles relative to the road and understand the magnitude of the crash energy. They can see the crush to the vehicles and understand why someone was catastrophically injured in the crash. Pictures are very valuable and fairly used when offered for these limited purposes.
However, this value is not true of all pictures, especially when they are offered for the purpose of showing what a driver actually saw pre-crash, in night vision, because they cannot replicate and actually capture the extent to which street lights, night-time light, and how the human eye interprets these lights, in the accurate fashion the party seeking to introduce such evidence would have a jury believe. In this use of such photographs, they can be very misleading and highly prejudicial. (See Part 7 of 8.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.