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Name: People v. Skiles
Case #: S180567
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/27/2011

A faxed copy of certified records is admissible to prove a strike prior and is sufficient for such proof, where other evidence corroborates the information. During the court trial of appellant’s serious felony prior, it was determined that the certified copies being used were incomplete. Over the lunch recess, the prosecutor secured a faxed copy of a certified page from an indictment, from the clerk in Lauderdale County, Alabama (where the prior occurred). The defense objected to the fax on foundational grounds. “Because there was sufficient evidence to sustain a finding that the faxed document was an accurate copy of an authentic court record” the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s admission of the fax. Under the Secondary Evidence Rule (Evid. Code, § 1521) a copy of a certified official record is admissible to prove the prior unless there is a dispute regarding its terms and admission of the copy would be unfair. Although the fax did not meet the requirements of section 1521 (because the public official did not examine the fax and compare it with the original) certification only establishes a presumption of authenticity. Nothing in section 1530 forbids other methods of authentication. Circumstantial evidence may establish that a faxed copy of a certified record is authentic and reliable. When considered with the other records presented, the fax was sufficient to prove the prior.