Skip to main content

The Role of Photographic Evidence of Victim Injuries in Cases of Interpersonal Assault

Rashmee Singh, Assistant Professor, Legal Studies, University of Waterloo

Dawn Moore, Associate Professor, Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

Published April 19, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

On January 26, 2018, Rashmee Singh and Dawn Moore gave a presentation on the role of photographic evidence of victim injuries in cases of interpersonal assault during the Technologies of Justice Conference session Technology on Trial? Exploring the Use and Misuse of Evidence. The conference took place at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.



Singh and Moore discussed victims of injury and posthumous injuries in autopsy, especially in cases of murder, and the treatment of injury in legal courts. They posed the question: “How does visual evidence in an autopsy make it to court?” and showed institutional standards, guidelines and mandates that need to be followed in the treatment of bodies during autopsy. They investigated the way injuries can be shown by forensic pathologists, specifically looking into standards and forms of recording and visually reporting events of the autopsy.

The researchers highlighted the need for maintaining the dignity or integrity of the body while producing visual evidence of murder in court, and how there are many ways to autopsy a body. They demonstrated the use of X-Ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans and photographic evidence in physical injury, and how practices like this can help provide insight without desecrating the remains of a human being. They also stressed how bias and (mis)treatment of a person in life can continue into the autopsy room in cases where people are regarded as 'dehumanized,' citing specific case studies that bring into question the integrity of the individuals conducting autopsies on the bodies.