At first blush, it might seem counter-intuitive to observe that in forensic matters, the least probative, or least reliable accurate proof, is, acceptably, known to be personal identification; irrespective of how confidently it was asserted by an apparently truthful witness. Who did it, said it, drove the car, was present, stole the bicycle, are examples of questions addressed to the witness’ sworn recollection as to identity; the responses, validly and empirically, have been shown to be subject to, at least, some doubt. Long experience has shown that evidence, including “circumstantial” evidence, is forensically necessary, to afford the assured conclusion, that the identified personality, is, factually, the true party in interest.

The distinction between “perception” and reality, is a construct, which is understood to be somewhat familiar, in contemporary society. It is commonly known that perception and its re -created recollection, are both subjective phenomena, and may, unwittingly, differ from actual, objective accuracy. Witnesses, called to testify as to identity, necessarily bring along with them to the witness seat, recollections of previous, related and unrelated circumstances, and a mélange of concurrent thoughts, which may well interfere with, or edit, the extent of their recollected testimonial accuracy. Furthermore, witnessed events which, by their nature, are productive of emotional or excited reaction, by their nature, add additional challenge to attempts at reliable recollection, and associated testimony.

Such problematic reservations, applicable to the questionable accuracy of witness identification, are also relevant in the context of perceived familial resemblance; most particularly in instances of the newborn.  There is little doubt that as an experiential fact, representatives of both parental families, predictably, and with great confidence and assurance, are prone to independently assert that the newborn baby clearly resembles someone in his respective family. In the course of such controversy, one may hear such scholastic and erudite arguments as, “her eyes are just like her sister’s,” “she’s got her mother’s mouth” “she’s (god forbid) got her father’s nose,” or some brash, but expected comment from a reputed weird relative such as, “put a cigar in his mouth and you’ll see that he is a spitting image of Uncle Moe, the druggist.” The newborn nursery eternally provides the utilitarian convenience of a suitable forum for substantive debate, over the attribution of familial resemblance.

We might be able to reach some concord, with the reader, for our bold declaration, that the usual newborn infant can be seen to resemble almost anyone; and, further, that relatives visiting the hospital, celebrating the happy, new addition to the family, may differ in nuanced perception, albeit, each, respectively, asserting requisite expertise and the assurance of profound experience in family history.

As the child grows older, the debate may well continue, however sporadically, as to his attributive features; sometimes, as a good- natured, interactive tradition between the two families, or at times, on the factually perceived, purported merits of the controversy. It can be noted, though, that the issue emanating from the asserted pride in the child’s perceived familial resemblance, may be exacerbated, or, alternatively, wax and wane, depending upon the mature child’s later degree of successful attainments, or conversely, upon his, disappointing performance.

There often appears to be, yet, an additional self-serving, familial inclination, which apparently amounts to an association of the great success of a family member, to a claimed, celebrated, familial trait, or a gifted relative. Curiously, there seems to be no similar competitive inclination regarding individuals, who have turned out to be perceived as abysmal failures.

Just spoofing!


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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