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Calif. Court Finds 'Red Light Camera' Photos Inadmissible

Redlight By now, many readers are probably familiar with the "red light cameras" in some states that snap a photo of you and your car as you pass through a red light. The photo along with a traffic citation is then sent to the registered address of the vehicle in the photo for you to pay. According to a recent opinion by the Superior Court of California, however, the evidence produced by these red light cameras is inadmissible.

In People v. Khaled (App. Div. - July 22, 2010), the prosecution sought to prove that Khaled ran a red light by introducing the red light photo along with a "declaration that was intended to support the introduction of photographs purporting to show the appellant driving through an intersection against a red light."

Khaled, however, objected to the introduction of the photographs and declaration as "inadmissible hearsay, and violative of appellant’s confrontation rights." The trial court admitted the photographs "as business records, official records, and because a proper foundation for the admission had been made based on the submitted declaration." Khaled appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court reversed the trial court, holding that the lower court erred in admitting the photographs and the accompanying declaration over the Khaled’s hearsay and confrontation clause objections.

Specifically, the court stated that:

the photographs contain hearsay evidence concerning the matters depicted in the photographs including the date, time, and other information. The person who entered that relevant information into the camera-computer system did not testify. The person who entered that information was not subject to being cross-examined on the underlying source of that information. The person or persons who maintain the system did not testify. No one with personal knowledge testified about how often the system is maintained. No one with personal knowledge testified about how often the date and time are verified. The custodian of records for the company that contracts with the city to maintain, monitor, store, and disperse these photographs did not testify. The person with direct knowledge of the workings of the camera-computer system did not testify.

In addition, the court found that neither the “official records exception” nor the “business records exception” to the hearsay rule applied.

Read the full opinion here (via the California Appellate Report blog)

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 23, 2010 at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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