If you’ve recently received a red light camera traffic ticket, you may have some legal ammo to use if you want to fight it. The case of People v. Khaled (2010) is an Orange County Appellate case that held an appropriate witness must testify to the inner workings of the camera system and to the photographs introduced in evidence. An appropriate witness does not include the officer who usually shows up to prosecute these tickets, because he has no knowledge of the camera system’s maintenance records, cannot verify the camera’s recorded date and time, and is not the custodian of the records.
What does all of this mean for you? It means you may have an argument to exclude the photographic evidence which allegedly shows you running the red light. Guess who IS the custodian of records of these photographs? An employee at the red light camera company. How often do you think this employee shows up to testify? Not very often.
There was another case in LA County, People v. Borzakian (2012). This case was unpublished and as such is only persuasive (not binding on the court). Nonetheless, this was LA County’s step toward agreeing with the ruling in Khaled, requiring more than just a testifying officer who cannot lay a proper foundation for red light camera photographic evidence.
But the momentum has recently backslid a bit. In the very recent LA County published case of People v. Goldsmith (2012), the court has ruled this photographic evidence as admissible, because “it’s not hearsay.” The deal is, the defendant argued that it was hearsay, and the court concluded that it was not. There was no argument raised about lack of foundation, as in Khaled and Borzakian. So it remains to be seen whether an argument based on lack of foundation is going to hold up in LA County anymore.
Remember that a red light camera ticket is a moving violation, meaning you’ll get a point on your DMV record if convicted. If you get too many points on your DMV record, bad stuff can happen. You can read about what kind of bad stuff can happen in my post here.
If you’d like help fighting your LA traffic ticket or your Orange County traffic ticket, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at 310-200-4519, or contact me through my website.