In the following sentence, who has the happy look on her face, Julie or her mother?
I saw Julie sitting beside her mother with a happy look on her face.
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It is a little confusing. Perhaps as Michael Harvey mentions it might be improved by commas, or maybe it could be improved by re-ordering the sentence. However, I think we can apply a little context and conclude that almost certainly Julie is the one smiling. If we interpret it the other way, we have a description of the mother:
I saw Julie sitting beside [her mother with a happy look on her face].
Which seems to imply that we need to clarify which mother of Julie we're talking about. Which is possible, plenty of people have multiple mothers. But unless we know something about the facial expressions of the rest of these mothers, "with a happy look on her face" is basically a nonsense description.
The sentence is badly written, because it is ambiguous. A skilled writer would resolve that like this:
Julie had the happy look:
I saw Julie, sitting beside her mother, with a happy look on her face.
Her mother had the happy look:
I saw Julie sitting beside her mother who had a happy look on her face.