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Name: People v. Rodriguez
Case #: F070900
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/09/2017

Trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of automatically generated GPS data from defendant’s ankle monitor. Following his felony conviction, defendant was released from custody with an ankle monitor pursuant to the Kern County Sheriff Department’s Electronic Monitoring Program (EMP). The ankle monitor transmitted signals concerning defendant’s location at specific dates and times to the EMP’s computer tracking system via a Global Positioning Device (GPS). Defendant was arrested after GPS data showed he left the county and state on multiple occasions without permission. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court admitted a report about the GPS signals sent from his ankle monitor. A jury convicted defendant of escaping from the EMP (Pen. Code, § 4532, subd. (b)). On appeal, defendant raised authentication and hearsay challenges to the admission of the GPS evidence. Held: Affirmed. Evidence Code section 1552 creates a presumption that printed representations of computer information are accurate representations of such information. If a party introduces evidence that a printed representation is inaccurate or unreliable, then the proponent of the evidence must offer foundational evidence that the computer was operating properly. (People v. Hawkins (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 1428, 1450.) Here, a sergeant testified about his familiarity with how the ankle monitor transmitted defendant’s location through GPS data, how the computer software tracked this information, and how the GPS report was generated, as well as the accuracy and reliability of the GPS report. This testimony was sufficient to authenticate the report, and defendant did not introduce any evidence to undermine the reliability of the evidence and refute section 1552’s presumption. Furthermore, the reliability of the GPS data was corroborated by defendant’s admissions that he left Kern County because of his long-haul trucking job. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled defendant’s authentication objections.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling defendant’s hearsay objections to the computer-generated GPS data. Some California cases have held that computer records were hearsay and were admissible if the requirements for the official or business records exception to the hearsay rule were satisfied. However, where a computer is programmed to generate information on its own, the computer-generated information is not hearsay because it is not a statement by a person. (People v. Hawkins (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 1428, 1449.) The concerns of the hearsay rule are not implicated with computer-generated records because evidence is not the product of human intervention. Here, the ankle monitor automatically sent signals of defendant’s location to the GPS, which automatically generated the computer data about defendant’s location at the specific dates and times. The resulting GPS report did not contain a statement by a person about the data, and thus was not hearsay.

The computer-generated report of GPS data was not testimonial hearsay. Defendant argued the GPS report was inadmissible because it constituted testimonial hearsay within the meaning of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 U.S. 305. However, the evidence was not hearsay. Moreover, it was not “testimonial” because it was originally transmitted from the ankle monitor to the sheriff’s department to administer defendant’s release from the EMP. Thus, the report was created for the administration of an entity’s affairs, not for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact at trial.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: