Conviction by Red Light Camera Is Upheld on Appeal
The first case was People v. Khaled (2010) 186 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1, wherein the Appellate Division of the Orange County Superior Court held that photographs and video of an alleged red light violation were inadmissible because the prosecution could not establish the time or method of retrieval of the data, or that the photographs and video were reasonable representations of what they portrayed. Khaled, at 5 – 6. This is what lawyers call “foundation.” The conviction of Khaled was then reversed.The Point of This Article: People v. Khaled and People v. Borzakian seemed to be sending red light tickets to the grave, but in this case, People v. Goldsmith, a red light ticket was upheld. Each of these three cases involve critical evidentiary issues.
Earlier this year (2012), in People v. Borzakian (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 525, the Appellate Court held that the “red light ticket” issued to Ms. Borzakian was invalid because the prosecution failed to provide evidence of the mode of preparation of the camera maintenance logs or that the source of information and method and time of its preparation. This is the long way of saying that photograph lacked proper foundation. This meant that the photographs were improperly admitted into evidence, so the conviction was also reversed.
Ms. Goldsmith received a ticket for allegedly running the traffic light at the intersection of Centinela and Beach Avenue in Inglewood. A red-light camera allegedly captured Goldsmith in video and in three photographs in her car entering the intersection while the traffic light was red.
The prosecution’s evidence was a twelve second video of Goldsmith entering and exiting the intersection. The video contained a data bar along the bottom of the screen, showing that when Goldsmith entered the intersection, the red light had already been illuminated for 0.27 seconds. The same video showed that when she exited the intersection, the red light had been illuminated 0.66 seconds. There were also three photographs of Goldsmith’s car, showing her driving with substantially the same data bar along the bottom of the photograph.
Goldsmith challenged her conviction by arguing that the photographs and video were hearsay that was inadmissible under any exception to the hearsay rule. The argument was distinguishable from the arguments successfully made in Borzakian and Khaled, which each addressed foundation, not hearsay.
On grounds that there was no hearsay, the Second Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling. This appellate ruling, dated March 5, 2012, also gave the prosecution grounds to appeal the Borzakian ruling, as the time period to appeal may not yet have expired.
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