Assume that the prosecution in the murder trial of a mother offered as evidence postmortem photographs of the young child, who died from child abuse Assume that the prosecution in the murder trial of a mother offered as evidence postmortem photographs of the young child, who died from child abuse, as well as video showing the child's mother participating in sadomasochistic sexual acts. The defense counsel objects to the introduction of both the photographs and the video. How would the defense argue to exclude such evidence? What is your opinion about the admissibility of such evidence in this case?

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Photographs of the child's injuries would be admissible, as they would be relevant to a determination of the manner and cause of death; however videos of the mother engaging in deviant sexual behavior is probably not admissible, unless it can be shown that her behavior was the direct and proximate cause of the child abuse which caused the child's death. The issue is one of relevance. Regardless of the deviant nature of the mother's behavior, it is something of a reach to say that this caused the injuries. It appears more to be an attempt to indict the character of the mother, and show her to be a bad person; one who probably would abuse her child. The problem is, the mother's character is not in evidence, unless she for some reason uses her character in her own defense. In that instance, the deviant behavior might show that she is not a person of good character and should not be believed; but it has no relevance to her guilt or innocence.  For that reason, the photographs of the child's injuries should be admissible; but the videos of the mother's behavior should be inadmissible.

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