Useless As Evidence, Judge Rejects Video

By Carlton Purvis, Published Jan 07, 2014, 12:00am EST

A claimed confrontation outside of a courthouse leads to a restraining order against a man. There's surveillance video that the man believes will exonerate him, but the court rejects the video in its entirety.

Here's the case out of California: A man is accused of stalking a woman and making violent threats. They go to a trial for a restraining order and after the order is granted, she and her friends say the man yelled and threatened them from his car outside of the courthouse. The woman, a friend of the original plaintiff, ran back into the courthouse out of fear and later got her own (second) restraining order against him.

The man appealed saying the incident never happened and asked for a new trial based on new evidence -- surveillance footage and cell phone tower data. He said the footage would show the exchange never happened, and cell phone tower data would show that he was not near the courthouse and that he was on the phone at the time the incident would have happened.

There are at least five cameras on the exterior of the courthouse. Here are two of them:

Despite this, after viewing footage from courthouse cameras, an appellate judge declined to let him introduce footage to the case and let the restraining orders stand saying:

"The court has viewed those videos and, quite frankly, those videos sometimes show a person walking down the street and the very next moment they disappeared. I'm not sure that the videos are going to assist the court in trying to resolve this dispute. To the extent that it may show people in locations and vehicles moving, for the record, there is no audio on those tapes. Those tapes are depictions of --it appears to be part of what is happening outside the premises, but, again, as I said, some of the vehicles that you see one moment in a position, the very next moment they are not there. And so I'm not sure how accurate they are and to the extent there is foundation that can be laid, that they would be admissible for purposes of evidentiary value. I suppose the court can look at it, and you could probably point out to the court what you believe it depicts. And then it's an interpretation process."

Sound familiar? Skipping footage or "people disappearing" is a main criticism of the footage from the Kendrick Johnson case. It was determined that those cameras were set to record on motion and not calibrated properly, which is what led to irregularities [link no longer available].

However, the cameras here are not set to motion-based recording, according to Lt. Scott Amos of the San Diego Sheriff's Office. The cameras are set to record continuously and to the best of his knowledge the haven't had any technical issues recently. Although, he said, any technology is bound to have glitches from time to time.

Unfortunately, the video footage is not available.

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