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It Just Got A Lot Tougher To Get Out of 'Red-Light Camera' Tickets

State high court ruled today that such evidence is "presumed authentic" unless a defendant can successfully challenge it.

The California Supreme Court made it easier today for prosecutors to use red-light camera evidence against drivers who fail to stop at traffic signals.

In a ruling issued in San Francisco, the court unanimously said that images and data automatically recorded by the cameras have a "presumption of authenticity" similar to the presumption for other types of photos and videos.

Under the presumption, the camera evidence is considered valid unless a defendant can successfully challenge it.

The court ruled in the case of Carmen Goldsmith, who was convicted in Los Angeles County Superior Court of a traffic infraction and fined $436 for failing to stop at a red light at an intersection in Inglewood in 2009.

The only prosecution witness in the non-jury trial was an Inglewood police investigator who had not personally witnessed the incident, but who had worked in red-light camera enforcement for six years and who testified about how the system worked.

In her appeal, Goldsmith argued that prosecutors should have been required to provide more evidence to authenticate the cameras.

She also claimed the recordings should have been considered second-hand hearsay evidence.

But the state high court upheld a California law that provides that red-light camera evidence has the same presumption of validity as other types of photos and videos.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote that from the investigator's testimony, "it can be reasonably inferred that the (camera) system automatically and contemporaneously recorded the images of the intersection and the date imprinted on the photographs."

"No elaborate showing of accuracy is required" for the automatically produced images and data, the chief justice said.

The court also rejected Goldsmith's claim that the camera evidence was hearsay, which is defined as second-hand evidence about a statement made by a person.

The panel said the automatically generated camera images and data were presentations of information by a machine, not a person.

"The evidence code does not contemplate that a machine can make a statement," Cantil-Sakauye wrote, quoting from an earlier ruling.

Under the red-light camera system, which is authorized by the California Vehicle Code, drivers are identified through photos of their license plates.

--Bay City News

howard herships June 06, 2014 at 10:25 AM
The California Supreme court just overruled the United States Supreme Court rulings in three decisions. I guess the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court never heard of the supremacy clause of the U S Constitution. The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court has a track record of ruling contrary to decisions of the United States Supreme Court in fact while sitting as Sacramento County Superior Court Judge she denied a criminal defendant his Federal Constitutional Rights to legal counsel in a criminal case which was mandated by a 1964 U S Supreme Court decision. You should read King v Superior Court 107 Cal App 4th 929 and this is the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court with these views she should not be sitting on the bench. The Chief Justice does not believe in upholding the U S Constitution in fact the under Title 28 USC section 2254 (d) (1) (2) if a decision of the State Court is contrary to a decision of the U S Supreme Court then a writ must be issued. "(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding. Here the U S Supreme Court ruled that in the right to cross-examination cannot be denied and in California the chief justice said she could do so.
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau June 07, 2014 at 02:12 AM
Fine for running a red light and getting caught on camera: $436. Fine for driving without the license plates mounted to the bumpers: $10 fix-it ticket or a max of $200. Do the math.
Holly Knight June 09, 2014 at 07:15 PM
My red light ticket was 530 no traffic school point on my license in sac I don't have a chance to show there was a ambulance is why I had to pull over in the intersection then the light turned red that's when the video started I got took by the system
George March June 10, 2014 at 11:44 AM
Martinez PD needs a "Stop Sign" camera by my house to catch the daily dozens who don't bother even slowing down.
Holly Knight July 21, 2014 at 04:23 PM
That's not me I have been a nanny for 15 years and a absolute clean DMV record I would not take that kind of stupid move with my way to make a living. I'm trusted with people's most precious asset that's just not me it didn't matter not one person that day in court was innocent not one and there were lots 530.00 is a lot of money to me

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