Baltimore Confrontation Clause Problem? Red Light Camera Photos Signed and “Verified” by Deceased Officer

February 10th, 2011

This could be interesting. From WBALTV:

The WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team has learned that Baltimore police and transportation officials are trying to correct a problem with about 2,000 red light camera citations that may bear the signature of a police officer who is dead.  The problem concerns the sworn statement that appears on the citations confirming a police officer has reviewed the camera images to verify a violation has occurred.

On the citations in question, that signature belongs to Baltimore Officer James Fowler, who was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania on Sept. 27, I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said.

How is this possible? Was the City simply verifying all photographs automatically? Or was it a glitch?

A city police representative blamed the problem on a computer glitch, which is the fault of the company that operates the camera system, and he said the problem has been rectified. Letters are being sent to people who got the violation notice.

The Police Department said it does not blanket approve citations, and only the violators got the erroneous copies. A department representative said internal copies show the name of the officer who actually reviewed the violations.

If the City does have a “blanket” approval process, would there be confrontation clause issues? There is no problem using a photograph to convict someone of a crime (in this case a trafic citation), but the photograph needs to be verified. If the defendant seeks to challenge the verification, he has the right to confront that person. If Baltimore approves all photographs without any human oversight, there may be some confrontation clause problems here.

Update: Thanks for the link Instapundit! My 10th Instalanche!