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Added 7-13-03:

  WeHo Trial Transcript

Red Light Cameras - West Hollywood Standard Testimony

Update 4-27-04:  This transcript may be out-of-date - court policies vary greatly from judge to judge, and Comm. Bobys has recently retired.

Transcribed from the official audio tape.  Headings and other explanatory material added by the transcriber or the editor of this website, are in square brackets [ ] .  Nothing has been left out, except for short portions where it was impossible to tell with reasonable assurance, what had been said. Those portions have been  denoted "inaudible." 

This transcript may be freely copied and distributed so long as attribution is given to . 

As of July 13, 2003, due to time constraints, no actual details of cases are included here. However, details of some of the cases may be added here, later.

Many other cases and /or transcripts are available - see the Index to Transcripts, Briefs, and Court Decisions.


Superior Court of the State of California

For the County of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills Branch Court

Division 4

Hon. Hugh Bobys, Commissioner

Thursday, June 19, 2003

9:00 a.m.


[Traffic School]


THE COURT [Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Hugh Bobys]:  Once Deputy Porche has completed his presentation, the court will inquire if anyone wishes to attend traffic school.  And at that point if you wish to attend you should have a pretty good idea of why you were issued your citation.  If you want to go to traffic school and you're eligible all you have to do it ask, and off you will go, to go to traffic school.  And when you complete traffic school the citation is dismissed, you don't have a point on your record, and if it's a first time 8-hour traffic school, it's also masked on your record so that your insurance company doesn't find out about the violation.  So, you have that opportunity at that point to go to traffic school, no questions asked.


You're entitled to go to first time traffic school as a matter of right, once every 18 months. And the 18-month period is measured between the dates that you received your citation.   So if you haven't  been to traffic school on another citation that was issued less than 18 months before the ticket you're appearing on, you're eligible for a first time 8-hour traffic school, and that's your right to request that - before trial.


[Second Traffic School]


You also may be eligible - it's solely at the court's discretion - for a second time 12-hour traffic school.


The second time 12-hour traffic school is not an automatic right.  You don't have a right to that at all, and it doesn't have the same benefits as a first time traffic school, in that although the citation is dismissed when you complete it and you don't have the point on your record, it's not masked, so that your insurance rates might still go up. You might even say probably will still go up because most insurance companies do not recognize the second time 12-hour traffic school; and since they know you received the ticket they will raise your rates.  But again, that's between you and your insurance company.  I'm pretty lenient about allowing people to attend that traffic school if you ask at the end of Deputy Porche's presentation. So, there's traffic school.


After that, when we've competed that, those of you who wish to go to traffic school will be out of here and gone. 


[The Trial Process]


Then we will conduct the rest of your trial for those of you who remain.  We will be calling you up individually at that time for the balance of your trial


When you come up, Deputy Porche will be making the second part of his testimony.  At that point he'll be testifying to specifics relating to your violation - the date, time, intersection, direction of travel, the various elements that are specific to your case.




Once he's completed that portion of his testimony, you will have the opportunity first to voice or express any objections that you may have to any of the testimony that has been previously given.  Because of the way we handle these trials you will not have the opportunity to object while Deputy Porche is making his presentation.  So the court deems that all objections are reserved.  That means that you may make them when you come forward. And if your objection or objections are sustained, you may make a motion to strike and the court, if it feels it is appropriate, will strike that testimony which was found to be objectionable and it will be as if that testimony was never given.  So you can make that motion if you wish.




Following that you will have the opportunity to cross-examine Deputy Porche.  And that means that you'll be able to ask him any questions that you'd like to ask him  relating to any of the testimony that he will have given up to that point in the proceedings this morning.  Cross-examination is your right, you don't have to cross-examine if you don't, but if you do elect to cross-examine, please do not argue with the deputy. And try to keep your questions intelligible, short and to the point, so that we can all understand what they are.


[Your Defense]


Once you have completed your cross-examination you'll have the opportunity to present a defense.  That means that you can give up your right to remain silent and you may testify if you so desire. If you have any witnesses here, you can bring them forward, and we will hear what they have to say.  If you have any exhibits that you've brought, you can show them first to the deputy, and then the court will view them.


Let me speak very briefly about defenses in these cases.  There is one defense that I call "the always win never lose defense," pretty much an absolute defense in these tickets, and that defense is if you're not the driver of the vehicle.  Deputy Porche has two things that he has to prove to this court, by proof beyond a reasonable doubt this morning in each of your cases. First, he must prove that a vehicle went through a red light. Second, he must prove that you, the person cited, were the driver of the car.  The primary way that he proves that you were the driver is with the photograph or the photographs.  If the photographs are not photographs of you driving the car he has not met his burden of proof, you're not guilty, end of case, we don't waste any time on those cases. So, if that is the situation in your case, if you are not the driver, hopefully you may already have told Deputy Porche that. Because once again, that's one absolute defense to use in these citations.


Are there other defenses, you might ask.  And I will tell you that this court does recognize equity or fairness defenses, and they usually involve situations which are apparent in the photographs that one might consider, perhaps, a valid excuse or reason for failing to stop at a red light.  They're usually apparent in the photographs, I'll tell you that.


That's about it.  Does anyone have any questions about the procedure, only, this morning? No, none?


Deputy Porche, do you have any motions?


[Deputy Porche's Standard Testimony]


DEPUTY PORCHE [Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Zenon Porche]:   A motion to dismiss against Marco [ ], identification. 


THE COURT:  Marco [ ], you're excused sir.  Matter is dismissed.


If you'll just listen carefully to Deputy Porche now, and please follow along on your own documents.


DEPUTY PORCHE:  I'm Deputy Zenon Porche.  I'm the photo enforcement coordinator for the City of West Hollywood and I've been in that position since May of 1999.  Since then I've issued over 80,000 citations and handled over 3600 court cases.


I was formally trained at the then Lockheed Martin facility in San Diego where I was familiarized with the system and I've subsequently taken three courses in the photo Gatsometer [camera brand name] at their technical facility in Arizona.


I'll start by telling you that it is Vehicle Code Section 21455.5 that gives government entities the authority to utilize an automated system to enforce Vehicle Code Section 21453(a) - that’s running a red light and that's why you're all here.


[Criteria the City Must Meet]


Before they can do that there's several criteria they must meet.  One of which is that they must work in conjunction with law enforcement.  That's where I come in.  Either myself or another officer will review each and every citation.  At which time we will approve that citation or disapprove that citation.  No one can tell us to approve or disprove any citations.  We operate the system and we are the ultimate authority.


Another piece of criteria that cities must meet.  They must hold what's called a public hearing.  The City of West Hollywood held its public hearing in March of 1999.   Here's a certified record from the City of West Hollywood certifying that that event did in fact take place.


Another piece of criteria they must meet.  They must notify their residents that the system is in fact coming to town.  The City of West Hollywood chose to make up information pamphlets and sent them to each and every resident.  Here's a certified record of the type of pamphlet that went to residents.  If you are a resident of  the City West Hollywood you should have received one.


In addition to this notification there were two news conferences on channel 4, one on channel 2, channel 34, channel 9,  MTV news, and news briefings released to the local City of West Hollywood paper, the LA Times, and the Beverly Press.


Another piece of criteria they must meet - they have an option - they have to post signs that look like this here.  It's a white sign, with a tri-faced traffic signal on it, "photo enforcement" inscribed beneath.  They have an option, they can post at all entrances to the cities that have photo enforcement available or they can post these signs at all approaches to intersections that are enforced by the system.  The City of West Hollywood chose to post these signs at all approaches at the enforced intersections.  Here's certified records from the City of West Hollywood certifying that that work was completed in a timely fashion.  The first phase was completed April of 1999 and second phase in May of 2000.


The last piece of criteria they must meet, they must hold what's called a warning period.  A thirty-day warning period.  That means that for a period of 30 days all those caught by the system that are perceived to have run a red light would simply receive a warning notice as opposed to a citation with a fine attached.


In May of 1999 the intersection of Crescent Heights and Fountain was fully implemented.  All those caught by the system to have run a red light simply received a warning notice as opposed to a citation with a fine attached.  Here's a  certified record from the City of West Hollywood which accounts for the citations issued during the warning phase.


[Vendor's Duties]


Now currently we contract with a vendor called ACS.  They're the contractor.  They're required to do several things.  One of which, they're required to come out and do the structures, they'll actually [inaudible] the intersections, they'll erect the poles.


They'll place down the loops.   Loop detectors are the sensors that detect your vehicle, and I'll explain to you in more detail what their role is.

 [Vendor Eliminates Some Citations]

They're required to process citations.   What I mean by processing the citation is, I set forth parameters as far as the citations that I'm going to approve.  They apply my parameters to all the citations.  They do a viewing.  Once they've applied my criteria, they'll do an elimination process.  The remaining citations are then forwarded to me at which time I will either approve those citations or disapprove those citations.


[Technician's Duties]


They're currently required to go out three times a week for maintenance.  What I mean by maintenance is if you examine the packets I handed out to you, you'll see that there are two technician logs attached. They should be dated on or about the day you received your citation.  After you examine those logs you'll see that there's a list of responsibilities attached to [inaudible].   I'll briefly take you through the responsibilities of a technician. 


Upon arriving at the location, they have to insure that those signs are visible and posted. They're going to examine what we call the camera housing, and make sure there's no damage to it.  The camera housing is what encloses the camera that photographed you.  It sits on top of a ten-foot pole.  They're going to lower this camera housing, open the rear, at which time they'll be viewing the display.  At that time they'll immediately test those cameras and start filling out those logs that are in your possession.  They're going to press what's called a function key, which is going to give them a number of information.  They're going to get date and time; they're get to get any errors in the system, the number of passes.


They're going to make sure that the signal that that camera's monitoring is synchronized with the camera.  They're going to make sure that the loops that detect your vehicle are in good communication with the camera that takes your photograph.  On the back of this plate is what is called loop detectors.  As the cars pass over those loops, there's little lights that flicker.  If there's something wrong they will remain constant.


They will remove and replace what's called the memory card and the film.  The memory card is digitized information that relates to all your violations.  They will remove those items and replace them.  After servicing they're going to re-test the camera.


[The City's/Sheriff's Handling of Tickets]


The memory card and the film are transported to the ACS facility and stored in fireproof secured cabinets.  The logs in your possession are only copies.  The originals are sent to my office where I will examine them, verify them, sign them, file the originals away, and make copies.  That's what you have in your possession.


In addition to the processing done by the vendor, we do our own processing in West Hollywood. We verify all of our own citations.  We compare numbers at the end of the month.  [Inaudible] citations I have approved and the numbers even match up.


In addition to the servicing done by the technicians, myself or another officer will visit each and every camera 2-3 times per month at which time we will do our own testing and verifying all the camera settings.  If there's a problem and we're capable of repairing that problem we'll go ahead and take care of it.  If not, we'll contact the vendor.




Now, currently the system utilizes a self-calibrating system - its own internal checks-and-balances system.  What that means is, internally it's checked by a 1 MHz processor and a 8 MHz crystal.  They check each other.  They make sure that they're within specification.   In other words, that 8 MHz processor is making sure that that 1 MHz crys -- That 8 MHz crystal's making sure that that 1 MHz processor is processing at 1 MHz and vice versa.  If there's a problem, if they're out of synchronization, they have to be accurate to 1/1000 of a second.  If they're not, the system is designed to shut down, it's not going to work.  If there's any problem at all, everything isn't functioning appropriately, the system is going to shut down, it's not going to work, you're not going to get a photograph.


[The Loops, and Triggering the System]


Currently the system we utilize - I'm getting into how your photographs are taken - we use what is called ground inductive loops.  That means that embedded into the asphalt, (inaudible) inches deep, are electrical wires, coiled around 3 times, and embedded. There's two loops, or sensors, in each direction of travel, one before the other.  Typically speaking, as you're approaching the intersection, the first loop you're going to come across is going to be before the intersection, before that limit line where you're supposed to be stopping, going to be approximately 15 feet, that's typical, 15-16 feet, then the second loop is going to be 3-5 feet from that one.


After these loops are coiled around and embedded, they are then transferred to the other side - they are laid underground and go to the opposite side of the street, where they're connected to a power source.  They receive a constant flow of electricity.  What happens is, as these electrical wires receive electrical flow, they form an electromagnetic field.  What happens is, as cars pass over the electromagnetic field, the field is broken.  That's how the system knows your car is coming, is it senses that disturbance in the electromagnetic field.


However, the systems can only take a photograph of you if the light is red.  Why?  Because the camera that photograph you only receives a signal from the red light to go active to take a photograph under certain conditions.  That's it.  Can't take a photograph on a green, can't take a photograph on a yellow.  To suggest that this system is going to take a photograph on a green light or a yellow light is like saying that when you turn on the bathroom lights, your kitchen lights are going to come on.  Same principles are at work here, doesn't work any other way.


Now what happens when you're in violation, and it snaps you?  These chairs are going represent the loops embedded in the ground. I'm traveling towards you.  This white line, this border between us, is going to be the limit line where you're supposed to stop, which is the first white line you're going to come across.  (Inaudible) we're going to have the crosswalk, and then we're going to have the intersection.  And these loops are before that. 


First of all the light has to be red and you have to be behind these loops or sensors.  Once the light turns red and you continue to travel, you're over this loop here, the first sensor.  The system detects your car.  As you continue to go forward between the two loops, the system performs a time-distance-speed calculation.  It says you're traveling fast enough where in all likelihood you're going to run that red light.  So what happens, it will snap your photograph right here, as you begin to cross over that second loop, which is where all of you are in that first photograph [inaudible].


You haven't committed a violation at that point.  You are all five to six feet from the limit line where you're supposed to stop.  The light is red, but no violation, you have yet to cross the limit line.  Incidentally, this will snap your picture based on the speed, 15, 18, 19 mph.  We set that.  We set those speeds, because if we didn't set those speeds, we would photograph everybody.  So we set the speed at which we believe in all likelihood you're not going to stop within this proximity to the limit line.  OK?


Granted some people manage to stop, some people manage to stop, they're fine, manage to stop, come to a screeching halt, there's no violation.  The photograph will be taken, but we need two photographs. So what happens is, based upon your speed the system estimates how long it's going to take you to travel what we call the interval distance.  That's going to place you into the intersection.  That's going to vary from one intersection to the next, just like the speeds do. Let's just take 10 meters. 


Let's say, during this process here, going over the loops, we estimate your speed at 30 mph. Let's say it's a ten-meter interval.  Based on 30 mph it's going to take that car one second to travel ten meters.  So what happens is, it automatically snaps a second photograph after one second has expired.  So if you continue to travel we are going to see that you continued to travel, it's going to place you [inaudible] in the intersection.  Therefore, a violation has occurred.  We have one [photograph] against a red light before you crossed the white line and a second one as you traveled in the intersection.


This is the way it happens over-and-over again at every single intersection.  This is the only way it happens.  This is the only way it can happen.  Nobody is ever going to prove that it has happened or can happen any other way.  OK?  Right over that loop.  OK?


[The Data Boxes]


Now, you've all received your photographs in the mail.  I'm sure you've noticed the little black boxes.  These are called data boxes.  What happens is, underneath the camera that photographs you there's a second shutter.  It's called a data box shutter. What happens is as your photograph is being taken, that data box shutter will simultaneously open and photograph the data box which lies underneath that data box shutter.   And it will superimpose its image on your violation photograph as your violation is occurring, and tells information about your violation.  And I'm going to go over those numbers with you.


Let's go to the first photograph, the one before you crossed the limit line, against that red light.  Up here, you'll have the date and the time.  The day and the month will be flipped around because it's European style. 


Next to that, down here, it says 2Y35.  The 2 tells us the loop number that detected your car.  It's not the lane number.  But you can refer to it as the lane number.  It so happens that loop numbers and lane numbers correspond.  The number 1 loop is in the number 1 lane and the number 2 loop is in the number 2 lane. 


Next to this is Y35. This system times the yellow over and over again just as with the red, and it places that number on the data box.  This system does not determine the duration of the yellow light. Yellow lights, simply measures the existing yellow light.  Currently all of our yellow lights are set by the traffic engineers of the city, they're set to 3.5 or 3.6 seconds, depending on the location.


Even though we have a light set at let's say 3.6 secs, every yellow light has a plus or minus of one tenth of a second per cycle.  This system will measure that.  So in other words, we have a light set at 3.6 seconds, sometimes it'll read 3.7, sometimes it'll read 3.5.  It will pick that up. Some people like to suggest that they had a short yellow, 2 seconds or whatever it may be.  This system will pick that up.  It will show that.  


Next to that, R002.  This represents the red.   This tells how long the light was red by the time that first photograph was taken.    In this photograph it is two tenths of a second.  The large numbers here represent whole seconds, the small numbers represent tenths of a second.  That tells you how long this person - in other words - back here somewhere before these loops, the light turns red, you continue to go, the car is picked up, the photograph is taken, that tells how long the light had been red by this point.   This photograph is two tenths of a second.


Next to that, 014, this is the number of violations on this roll of film.


Next to that it says 3111, that's simply the location code of the camera that photographed you.  All of your violations are going to begin with 31.  Depending on the location.  (Inaudible.)  The last two digits are going to be different.  Maybe 3112, 3141, 3142, depending upon the location.


[Data Box, Second Photo]


That's it for the first photograph.  Let's go to the second photograph.  The numbers have changed.  Here, you have date and time.  Once again, second photograph, this is you in the intersection.


Here where there was once a Y there are now whole seconds, and this is broken down into hundredths of a second.  This is the time difference between the two photos.


Next to that, R014, still representing the red.  This is the total time length the light had been red, or from the time the light turned red to the time this photograph was taken.  This photograph says 1.4 seconds.


14 right here - the number of violations on this roll of film.  These numbers should correspond from one photograph to the next.


Next to that, it says V=29.  As I mentioned to you, this system performs a time-distance-speed calculation, and records your speed on the data box.  However, this is the speed that you were traveling as you traveling over the loops, right here, in the first photograph. It's not the speed you're traveling here [in the second photograph].  We don't know how fast you're traveling here.  You may have sped up, you may have slowed down.


[Grace Time]


That's it for the data box.  Now in closing -


All of our intersections are configured with what I call a certain amount of grace distance.  That means that if you're within a certain amount of distance from the limit line to the leading edge of the loop, if you're within that distance, the light turns red, the system can't pick you up.  Typically it's 15 feet, we have locations it's actually 19 feet, it's northbound Fairfax and Fountain


If you're within that distance, let's say you're right here, within 14 feet of this limit line, the light turns red [inaudible], it can't pick you up.  Why?   Because it cannot perform the time-distance-speed calculation on you.  Has to get clear.  The light has to be red and it has to go over.  Has to read that car, to do an appropriate time-distance-speed calculation, because the profiles [inaudible] they have to match.   


In addition to this, with the exception of the Santa Monica location and northbound Fairfax at Fountain, we've programmed all the cameras to have a tenth of second delay.  That means that a tenth of a second is going to expire before the camera systems are going to go active.  How does that translate into this? 


Let's say you're within 18 feet of the intersection, the first loop, [inaudible] 15 feet, the light turns red, and you're traveling 35 mph, that means you travel 5 feet in one tenth of a second, the light goes red, by the time that tenth of a second has expired, you've traveled 5 feet, that's going to place you on top of or beyond this first loop.  [Inaudible] since it can't do an appropriate time and speed calculation.


In actuality you all have a one tenth of a second delay.  In other words, the first photograph isn't going to be taken unless the tenth of a second delay has expired at any intersection.  So When I say we have it set to a tenth of a second delay, you actually have two tenths of a second, because that first photograph is going to be taken two tenths of a second or better.


So, everybody has a tenth of a second delay built in, just that some are just set to zero. The first photograph in any place can only be taken after one tenth has expired.


Now, some of you will look at your photographs, and see the proximity you're within the limit line, 5 or 6 feet, and see two tenths of a second has expired, and say: "Gee I can't stop in that time, look at the time see [inaudible], I can't stop in two tenths of a second."


Well, we know you're not going to stop, that's why we photographed you.  But in two tenths of a second [inaudible], if you're traveling 35 mph, you traveled 10 feet, that's going to place your car back here somewhere, approx 25 feet from the intersection.  If you're traveling 35 mph, you're 25 feet, [inaudible] you're not going to stop either.  But you have to take into consideration that before that light turned red, you had that 3.5 or 3.6 yellow light and it's going to place your car 200 feet on the other side of the intersection.  Giving all of you plenty of enough time to stop [inaudible].  Even if you don't, you have a little a little grace area that it's not going to pick you up.




Now does anybody have any questions?


DEFENDANT:  That grace area doesn't apply to Fairfax/Fountain?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  You have 19 feet there.  Northbound Fairfax and Fountain.


DEFENDANT:  I'm asking about that 100-millisecond grace period.


DEPUTY PORCHE:  It's there, we have it set to zero. 


DEFENDANT:  So there is no grace period on that and the Santa Monica lights? 


DEPUTY PORCHE:  Mechanically speaking, the way the software is written, if it's set to zero, it doesn't see zero.  That means the first photograph has to be taken after a tenth of a second. It's written in software. There's "greater than" values. Software is just like any other mathematical equation.


In other words, whatever your delay is set, the camera says what's greater than that is when I want to start photographing.  If we have it set to zero, the next number it's going to see is one.  So, if we have it set to one, the next number it's going to see is  two.  And that's how it works.


DEFENDANT:   The question is then, what was the difference between the northbound Fairfax and the Santa Monica lights and the other lights?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  I'm the one that took the delay out.  [Inaudible.]  We don't put a tenth of second --


THE COURT:  Sir, is that because your citation was issued at that intersection?




THE COURT:  Then you can ask that during the rest of your trial, when you cross-examine the officer.


DEPUTY PORCHE:  Any other questions?


DEFENDANT:  What is the 2Y, the unit before the Y?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  It's going to be a one or a two.  That's the loop number that detected your car.  Just to reiterate, the number 1 loop's the number 1 lane, the number 2 loop's [inaudible].   The number after the Y, 3.5 or 6 or 7, tells how long the light was yellow before it turned [inaudible].


DEFENDANT:  You're saying that most of the intersections with cameras are 3.6 seconds?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  3.5 or 3.6, depending on where they are.


DEFENDANT:  You said that it does a time and speed calculation.  That speed is programmed into the camera?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  It does a time-distance-speed calculation, and then we say if it's traveling X speed, we take a photograph.  We can set that to zero too, but everybody that will come to a stop at the red light is going to be photographed, so we have to make a cutoff somewhere. 


DEFENDANT:  Is it the same speed across the board?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  Like I said, 15, 18 or 19 mph depending on the intersection.


DEFENDANT:  So if somebody's approaching at 5 mph, and runs the red light, his picture's not going to be taken?


DEPUTY PORCHE:  Not going to be taken.


THE COURT:  OK.  Does anybody want to go to traffic school at this point?


DEFENDANT:  I do [gives name]. 


DEFENDANT:  If we still go to trial, can we still get traffic school? 


THE COURT:  No guarantees, basically at my sole discretion.


[Two more people ask for traffic school.]


[The judge steps off the bench for a few minutes.]


THE COURT:  Is there anyone else that wanted to go to traffic school? No?  OK.


[The court issues bench warrant for O.R. defendant who failed to appear, then calls first case.]


[To Be Continued…]


[Details of some of the cases will be added here, later.]