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Name: People v. Goldsmith
Case #: B231678
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/01/2012
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 5/9/12 (S201443)
Summary

Admission of computer generated evidence (red light camera) does not require a hearsay exception and there is a presumption that printed representations of computer data are accurate. Defendant was convicted of running a red light based on computer-generated traffic enforcement photographs and time/date data. On appeal, defendant challenged the admission of the red light camera evidence because the prosecution presented no evidence regarding maintenance, reliability and accuracy of the computer hardware and software. In addition, defendant asserted the evidence was hearsay and the prosecution failed to establish an exception, such as business records. Affirmed. “Evidence Code sections 1552, subdivision (a) and 1553 establish a presumption that printed” computer data and images “are accurate representations of the [] information and images they purport to represent.” With regard to the accuracy of that data, the California Supreme Court held in People v. Martinez (2000) 22 Cal.4th 106, that admission of computer data does not require foundational evidence showing accuracy and reliability. Where errors and mistakes occur, these can be dealt with on cross examination and do not affect the admissibility of the evidence. Further, the computer data is not hearsay evidence because the computer data is not a “verbal expression” and is not uttered by a “person” within the meaning of Evidence Code section 225. “The Evidence Code does not contemplate that a machine can make a statement.” The hearsay rule is based on the requirement that testimony be tested via cross-examination; it is not possible to cross examine computer-generated videos or photographs. This type of evidence is demonstrative evidence subject to cross-examination. The same is true of the computer generated data imprinted on the photographs, depicting time, date, location and how long the light was red – it is not hearsay because it is not generated by a person.