R v Turnbull and Others was a mistaken identity case. The mistaken identity of the accused led to the establishment of a Criminal Court of appeal and a committee of inquiry was set up. The Court of appeal provided a lot of recommendations and guidelines for the case. This paper seeks to present an analytical review on the nature of the case, the facts of the case, and decisions by the Courts. This case study also seeks to analyze the Court's decision and implications.
The Nature of the Case and the Central Legal Issue
The nature of the case of R v Turnbull and Others was criminal evidence of identity in particular visual identification which was the possibility of mistaken identification. However, the judges’ caution against relying on or using identification as supporting evidence. The central legal issue was mistaken identification after the accused had been convicted through visual identification which he refuted. According to the case, various means were used to identify the accused. These means involved identification outside the Courtroom, identification within the Courtroom, photographic identification, video identification, and sketches among many other forms of identification.
Professor W. Twining insisted that where one party identifies the other is an ambiguity paradigm. In this case, the professor asserted that visual identification should be used as evidence of recognition. It is vital to note that other similar cases such as R v Ryan D and R v Bentley were also argued on the same grounds. However, in this particular case, the jury directed that the interpretation of inebriated condition should not be based on observation, but should be deducted from the ill-feeling that existed between the two parties.
The Facts of the Case
It is necessary to note that the facts of the case R v Turnbull and Others are mostly set out in the Courts judgment. These facts/guidelines included a special need for caution in prosecuting a case that relies on visual identification as evidence, warning on the need for explanations where caution is needed, which is a sum-up of identification circumstances in the particular case and ensuring that the witness was not mistaken. Facts and factors in this case which are known as the Turnbull rules are vital within the jurisdiction in the common law. This is in consideration of the accuracy of the identification from the eye witness.
The facts identified in this case have been adopted in different jurisdictions. It is also significant to note that the frailty of the evidence from the eye witness raised many concerns as to whether the evidence would still stand irrespective of the concerns and jurisdiction or whether there would be any reliable prosecution.
The evidence, in this case, was subject to psychological evaluation and thus drew a line in the cross-national jurisdictional and ethnic boundaries. The processes and findings which were employed to examine the evidence were used by the jury to develop their direction. However, the jury warned on two matters which include the individual common legal system approach and the approaches taken by the individuals. According to the facts and jurisdiction, case law and terms of legislation provided the judges with guidelines and formulated sufficient warning. In this case, a cautious approach to the eye witness evidence was relevant.
The development of judicial warnings, instructions, and directions helped to safeguard against an erroneous conviction. According to the perennial evidence, in this case, it is clear that there were applicability and scope in the eye witness analysis.
Was the Courts Decision Appropriate?
Every time an accused person depends on substantial or wholly evidence or correctness in identification in relation to defense or mistaken allegations, the Court's decision can only be appropriate if the identification quality is good and unquestionable.
It is argued that the criteria used in the Turnbull eye-witness assessment were not sufficient. According to the review development of the eye witness identifications direction, inaccurate eye witness identification may lead to a miscarriage of justice. A good example is the case of People v Casey in which the judges dismissed an appeal on the grounds that the witness evidence was reliable. In this case, the reliability of the evidence depends on the paradigm of ambiguity.
Did the Court have Adequately Justified its Reasoning?
In the case of R v Turnbull and Others, the court adequately justified its reasoning. This is evident from the principle enunciated and introduced by Lord Widgery. This principle states that the trial judge when considering a judgment identifies the poor quality of the evidence provided. For instance, when the evidence depends solely on a glance, it should not be relied on. In this case, the judge needs to withdraw the case and direct acquittal of the accused. This principle is collaborated and included in the judgment to ensure that there was no mistaken identity. In this case, the Court adequately justified its reasoning.
The Policy Implications of the Decision
Code D 2.3 of the Codes of Practice states that a suspect can dispute identification when its quality is questionable. An identification parade shall be held on condition that the suspect consents; paragraphs 2.4 or 2.7 or 2.10 should be applied. This simply means that the policy implications of the decision were in accordance with the Code of Practice. The decision of this case affected and was used in many other cases such as R v Quinn, R v Malashev, and R v Forbes among many others.
Value and quality of the identifying evidence rely heavily on the correctness of evidence and the principles used in measuring its quality. Failure to follow guidelines by the court may lead to unsatisfactory verdicts. The Courts in the case of R v Turnbull and Others upheld credibility and correctly assessed the evidence provided.