CULVER CITY BRANCH
THE STATE OF ) Case
Plaintiff ) ENGROSSED
John Smith )
Appellant John Smith was cited for
violating Section 21453(a) of the California Vehicle Code, failing to
stop for a red light, on July 30, 2002. The citation was issued by Sgt.
Michael Shank of the Culver City Police Department through the use of
automated red light camera system pursuant CVC §40518.
The Appellant requested a trial by
declaration and posted bail of $270.00. [[Now $340.00.]] The
Appellant was found guilty
and requested a trial de novo. February 13, 2003 was set for
and trial. The Appellant was advised, in writing, of his right to a
speedy and public court trial by a judge or commissioner of the Court
within 45 days of his arraignment, to confront and cross-examine
witnesses called to testify against him, to subpoena witnesses on his
behalf at no cost to him, to be represented by an attorney paid for at
his own expense, at all stages of the proceedings, not to be a witness
against himself. The Appellant appeared for arraignment and trial on
February 3, 2003, in Division 3 of the Superior Court Culver City
Branch. At that time, Appellant was arraigned and entered a plea of not
guilty to the charge.
At the trial Sgt. Wolford of the
Culver City Police Department was sworn and testified as follows:
The City of Culver City has automated
red light camera systems that capture drivers who enter an intersection
while facing a red light. This computer-based radar system takes two
photos [[or 12 seconds of video]] of the vehicle. The first photograph
is taken prior to the
vehicle entering the intersection after the light has turned red. The
second photograph is taken a second or so later after the vehicle
actually enters the intersection while still in the red phase. Along
with the photographs is data information relative to the infraction.
data information has the date, time, and location of occurrence, as
as the vehicle’s speed at the time the photograph was taken, how long
the light had been red at the time the photograph was taken, the
number and finally the elapsed time between the two photographs.
Technicians respond to each
intersection between one and three times per week to change the film
insure that all systems are working properly. [[Doesn't apply to video
tickets - the digital data moves from the camera to the camera
company's facility via a dedicated phone line.]] The evidence is
marked, logged and batched. Once the photographs are developed, they
digitized and assembled onto a notice of violation. A log file is then
associated with the photographs. The log file is a permanent record of
the violation information, the system’s internal calibration and a
The City of Culver City had to comply
with several vehicle code requirements before the system was
A public hearing was held in the Culver City City Council on
Public announcements were placed in the Times Westside
section on 9/13/98, the Times Metro section on 9/1/98, the Culver City
Chronicle on 9/9/98, on channels 2, 4, 7, 34, 52, and on the
Culver City cable crawler and City web site.
Period - There was a waiting period between 10/11/98 and
through 2/26/99 during which warnings only were mailed.
Photo enforced signs are displayed in all directions at each
automated enforcement intersection in the city to identify the system’s
- Notices of violation or citations are mailed out within
15 days as required by the vehicle code.
The intersection of East bound
Washington and Beethoven is located in the City of Culver City and has
such an automated enforcement system that captures drivers who enter an
intersection while in the red phase. On July 30, 2002 at 1:52 P.M., the
system activated producing the pictures depicted in Peoples 1.
1. The citation and photographs).
Technicians for Traffic Safety Systems
respond to this intersection 2 to 3 times a week to change the film and
to insure that the system is working properly. In this case,
were at this intersection on: July 30, 2002 in the morning prior to the
time of this citation and again on July 31. (People’s 2. The Field
Service Technician Inspection Report)
The film is then taken to Traffic
Safety Systems where it is marked, logged and batched. After the film
developed the photographs are digitized and assembled. This process is
done as standard operating procedure. (People’s 3. The Evidence
After the film is assembled, the
photographs are associated with a log file. Along with the record of
violation information, the log file also records the systems internal
calibration and diagnostic inspection. This document shows that the
system performed an internal calibration 3 minutes prior to the
and again 14 minutes after and at both times the system was operating
properly. (People’s 4. The Log File).
Directing the courts attention to the
television monitor, displayed on the monitor is the negative from the
first camera of the system, photo 2 A. The negative depicts a 199x
Mini Van license plate No. ABC123 traveling East bound on Washington
Boulevard at Beethoven in the # 2 lane behind the limit line facing a
red light. The red light shown on the television monitor is the same as
shown in the photograph which is People’s 1. The data strip shows that
on July 30, 2002 at 1:52 P.M., Eastbound Washington at Beethoven, the
Radar tracking and trigger device was tracking the vehicle depicted in
the photograph at a speed of 35 miles per hour when the system
and the first photograph was taken. The data strip shows that the light
had been red for 3 tenths of a second and the elapsed time in the A
photograph is 0.0 seconds as it should be.
A vehicle traveling at 35 miles per
hour is traveling at 51 .45 feet per second. In 3 tenths of
second a vehicle traveling at that speed will have traveled 15 feet,
thus the Dodge Van in photograph 2A would have been an additional
fifteen feet further back from the limit line when the light turned
The amber light at this intersection was 3.5 seconds. [[As of the time
of this violation it was 3.5, but in November 2002 it was increased to
3.6.]] At 35 miles per
hour the vehicle would have been an additional 180 feet back when the
light turned amber giving the driver a total of 195 feet to bring the
vehicle to a safe stop.
This is photo 2B taken by the second
camera and the elapsed time in this photo is .9 seconds meaning that
this photo was taken 9 tenths of a second after the first photo and the
vehicle is well out into the intersection where it would be expected to
be 9 tenths of a second later. Now focusing in on the driver, there is
Mr. Smith behind the wheel of the Dodge.
After reviewing and analyzing the
photographic evidence, as well as, the data information, coupled with
training and experience in the function and operation of the automated
enforcement equipment placed at the intersection of Washington and
Beethoven, I deduced that Mr. Smith was approximately 17 feet from the
limit line when the light turned red and then continued on through the
intersection failing to stop for the red light, a violation of Section
21453(a) of the California Vehicle Code.
The Appellant was sworn and testified
When my witness and I went through the
intersection the light was yellow the whole way. The photos could have
been tampered with, I used photo shop to make the lights red, yellow
purple. The machine is fallible, all systems make mistakes. Appellant
called a witness, Mr. James Jones, who was sworn and testified that he
was in the car and the light was yellow all the way through the
intersection. Appellant offered the testimony of Mr. Jones’ mother to
say that he was truthful but that form of character evidence was not
permitted by the Court.
After considering the testimony the
Court found the Appellant guilty of violating Section 21453(a) of the
California Vehicle Code, failing to stop for a red light. Cash bail was
applied to the fine.
Appellant appealed from the judgment
of the court and a conference for the preparation of an Engrossed
Settled Statement was scheduled for xxxx, at 9:00 a.m., in Division 3.
Appellant filed his appeal based on
the following facts:
21455.5) improper sized signs posted at Washington/Beethoven
intersection (46% too small).
[[At the time of the violation
they were (allegedly) too small. Larger signs were erected in
21455.7) Washington/Beethoven light is too short. [[As of
the time of this violation it was 3.5, but in November 2002 it was
increased to 3.6.]]
were not known to the Defendant/Appellant at the time of the
trial. This evidence should be presented
at a new trial.
The Court does now settle and allow
the foregoing Engrossed Settled Statement on Appeal and certifies that
the same is a true and correct statement of proceedings had in the