RED LIGHT CAMERAS
7-12-11, updated 6-22-12
US Supreme Court
These cases can be cited as precedent in other cases.
provided the following explanation of the significance of
"The Bullcoming opinion says that out of court statements may not be introduced against the accused at trial unless the witness who made the written statements are unavailable at trial and the defendant had a chance to cross examine them before trial. The decision essentially says that it is a violation of one's right to confront your accusers when the people who make the evidence against you aren't actually in court to be cross examined. Bullcoming is important for anyone with an automated enforcement ticket because it is a U.S. Supreme Court decision that can be used to help persuade the court to prevent the testimony of the in-court expert (usually a police officer or representative of the red light camera company) and to exclude the prosecution's evidence packet (or parts thereof) unless the actual people who made the declarations and documentary evidence in the packet (certifications, maintenance records, reports, and even the citation itself which is signed by an out of court witness) are also available at trial for cross examination, which, in red light cases, they seldom are."
Courtesy of Arthur F. Tait III, Esq. Arthur (at) TaitLawFirm.com 1-888-7-FIGHTERS
Williams v. Illinois (2012)
June 18, 2012: Decision
June 19, 2012 LA Times Article
On June 21, 2012 an attorney provided the following preliminary analysis of Williams:
"Williams vs. Illinois (2012 U.S. Lexis 4658) at first blush, would appear to undermine the confrontation clause and hearsay objections to the Redflex video and photo evidence. But read the decision carefully. I have gone through it once and will be doing a more detailed analysis. But for now, I wanted to share some preliminary observations.
"To put the decision in perspective, Williams was written by Justice Alioto with Kennedy and believe it or not, Justice Breyer joining. Justice Kagan filed the dissenting opinion with Justices Scalia and Sotomayor joining in the dissent.
"Williams involved the testimony of an expert witness in forensic biology and DNA analysis (that she is an expert witness as opposed to a retired cop or civilian employee of a police department, for our purposes, is a crucial distinction), who testified based on her review of Cellmark Lab reports. She ultimately testified, over objection, that there was a computer match between the vaginal swabs taken of a victim and the Cellmark DNA test taken years prior, from the accused.
"The Cellmark documents the expert based her testimony on were not introduced into evidence. Again, this is an important distinction. For with Redflex cases, we know that the video and photos with the data bar are introduced into evidence.
"The Cellmark report was what the expert relied upon to give an expert opinion. First, the retired cop or civilian employee who testifies for the police department in the Redflex cases does not qualify as an expert. Secondly, the photos with the data bar and the video are not likely to qualify as a business record (Evidence Code Sec. 1271) or public record (Evidence Code Sec. 1280) because it is solely created and produced for the purposes of incriminating the accused. (This is the same circumstance in Bullcoming, Melendez-Diaz, and Crawford.) The court in Williams suggested that the Cellmark report is different than the reports in Bullcoming, Melendez-Diaz, and Crawford and the Cellmark report could possibly be a business record.
"The Williams court also distinguished between documents used for the truth of the matter and those documents used by experts not for the truth of the matter. The testimony of the expert in Williams was not using the Cellmark report for the truth of the matter. With Redflex cases, the photos with the data bar and the video are not only what the civil police dept. employee or retired cop bases his or her testimony on, but they are introduced into evidence precisely for the truth of the matter. And in particular, they are introduced to establish the identity of the defendant and the date, time, and location of the violation. All this goes to the elements of the offense and are testimonial in nature.
"The Williams court did not disturb the rulings in Bullcoming, Melendez-Diaz, and Crawford. These cases still stand and are more akin to red light camera cases than Williams."
Courtesy of Mark Cohen, Esq. 510 792-4008 mark (at) markcohenlaw.com http://www.markcohenlaw.com
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