Conviction by Red Light Camera Is Upheld on Appeal

In the years 2010 to 2012, there were two successful challenges to tickets issued based on “red light camera” photographs and videos for violation of California Vehicle Code § 21413 (failure to stop at a red light).
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.
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.  The conviction of Khaled was reversed.  This ruling received a great deal of publicity and many people attempted to repeat Khaled’s success in court.  After all, many people receive red-light camera tickets and take a keen interest in how to fight them.

In 2012, in People v. Borzakian (2012) __ Cal.App.4th ___, 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 meant that the photographs were improperly admitted into evidence, so the conviction was also reversed.  This ruling also received a great deal of publicity, perhaps even more than Khaled’s case, nearly making Borzakian a household word for some folks.

On March 5, 2012, the Second Appellate District, with Justice Patti Kitching writing, addressed each of prior cases, criticizing each, in affirming the “red light ticket” of Carmen Goldsmith.  Ms. Goldsmith received a ticket for allegedly running the traffic light at the intersection of Centinela and Beach Avenue in Inglewood. 

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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.

The Second Appellate District responded to such arguments by noting the photographs and video were produced by a computer.  Consequently, they were not a statement because no person produced them.  No person could be cross-examined about the pictures or video to reveal biases, perception deficiencies or improper assumptions.  Thus, they were not hearsay at all and were admissible.

On this basis, the Second Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling.  This appellate ruling, dated March 5, 2012, also gave the prosecution strong grounds to appeal the Borzakian ruling, as the time period to appeal may not yet have expired.

For more information about traffic tickets, click on the following articles:  
  1. Ticket Thrown Out for Running Red Light Based on Red Light Camera
  2. I Missed Court for My Traffic Ticket Trial- What Should I Do?
  3. What Should I Wear and Bring to Court?
For case summaries of selected driving offenses our firm has handled, click here.

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