Conviction by Red Light Camera Upheld on Appeal

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Within the last two years, there have been 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 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.

Earlier this year, 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.

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.

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Greg Hill, Greg Hill and Associates
This article was written by Greg Hill. He has defended hundreds of traffic violations all over Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino County. He also defends drug offenses, DUI’s, domestic violence matters and other crimes all over the state of California. He is an attorney in Torrance, California and a former Marine Officer. He is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate (B.S., 1987), Boston University graduate (M.B.A., 1994) and Loyola Law School graduate (J.D., 1998).

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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