6/29/2010Hawaii: Bogus Speeding Tickets Still On Appeal
Hawaii appellate court overturns laser speed cases that were not dismissed under the supreme court precedent.
Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled in September that speeding tickets issued on the basis of laser speed gun readings were not valid (view decision). The high court followed up this ruling in March by overturning a case where the officer in question claimed he used pacing to estimate the speed after the laser evidence was thrown out (view decision). Dozens of motorists convicted by lidar evidence are now being forced to take their case to the Intermediate Court of Appeals in order to clear their names.
Johnny T. Tapusoa was convicted less than a month before the high court handed down its ruling on the use of laser in the case Hawaii v. Assaye. Instead of having the charges against him automatically dropped, Tapusoa was forced to file an appeal. On June 17 the Intermediate Court of Appeals found in his favor.
"As the state acknowledges on appeal, there was insufficient evidence to convict Tapusoa of excessive speeding because the state failed to adduce evidence that the laser gun was tested according to the manufacturer recommended procedures in order to establish sufficient foundation for the laser gun reading," Chief Judge Craig H. Nakamura wrote. "Without this evidence, there was insufficient evidence to support Tapusoa's conviction for excessive speeding."
Prosecutors failed to produce evidence that the police officer who stopped Tapusoa had training or experience that matched all of the requirements set out by the manufacturer. Police officers prior to the high court's decision racked up convictions merely by testifying that they had taken a four-hour course. Without proof that the laser was operated in way consistent with the manufacturer's specifications, prosecutors were unable to show that the evidence was convincing beyond a reasonable doubt. Other drivers acquitted since May include Gary S. Bonds, Waynette W. Botelho, John D. Eddington, Scott E. McKellar, Charles J. Wahlquist and Vincent M. Yoshioka. Decisions in each case featured an identically worded ruling.
A copy of the decision is available in a 130k PDF file at the source link below.