(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)
Officer Smith’s Traffic Collision Report Should Be Excluded
Vehicle Code §20013 sets forth the rule regarding the admissibility of police reports. It states in pertinent part: “No such accident report shall be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal arising out of an accident … ”
In Box v. California Date Growers Association (1976) 57 Cal.App.3d 266, the court applied Vehicle Code §20013 when it properly excluded the officer’s police report following a motorcycle versus truck accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision that the Highway Patrol Officer’s traffic report was not admissible. Thus, in the present case Officer Smith’s Traffic Collision Report should be excluded in its entirety pursuant to Vehicle Code §20013 and the above-cited authority. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
Highway Patrol Officer Smith Is Not A Qualified Expert Witness And His Testimony Lacks Foundation
California Evidence Code §720 states: (a) A person is qualified to testify as an expert if he has special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education sufficient to qualify him as an expert on the subject to which his testimony relates. Against the objection of a party, such special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education must be shown before the witness may testify as an expert.
In the present case, defendants have not demonstrated a foundation that Officer Smith has special knowledge, skill, experience, training or education sufficient to qualify him as an expert on the subject of automobile ownership. Further, there is no foundation of reliability of information the officer used to form the opinion stated. Thus, any testimony on this subject by Officer Smith should be excluded because he is not qualified to testify as an expert on this subject.
Moreover, Officer Smith has not been designated as an expert by the defense, therefore his testimony must be excluded. Kennemur vs. State of California, (1982) 133 Cal.App.3d 907.
Officer Smith’s Opinion Should Be Excluded Pursuant To Evidence Code §352
Evidence Code §352 states that the court in its discretion may exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b) create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues, or of misleading the jury. See People v. Cardenas (1982) 31 Cal.3d 897, 904 (If the prejudicial effect outweighs the probative value, the trail court should exclude the evidence.)
In the present case, if the court were to allow Officer Smith, or any other Highway Patrol Officer to testify as to his opinions or conclusions, or to admit the Traffic Collision Report, it would create a substantial danger of undue prejudice to plaintiff. Because Officer Smith is a Highway Patrol Officer, the jury will likely have the tendency to give his unfounded conclusions undue weight, thus confusing the issues and invading the jury’s province. Thus, any such evidence should be excluded under Evidence Code §352.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.