(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this bus accident/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
To allow Officer Smith to essentially read to the jury his inadmissible traffic collision report including hearsay statements and impermissible opinions of statutory violation derived from that hearsay is reversible error. Over fifty years ago, the first district of the California Appellate Court opined … (an) objection to the question put to (an investigation policeman) Officer Rakestraw as to whether or not he had issued any citations as a result of the accident was sustainable…. The question in that form was certainly objectionable as it clearly called for the conclusion of the witness as to whether or not there were any law violations and the objection was properly sustained. Hooper v. Bronson (1954) 123 Cal.App.2d, 243, 256.
Had Chance’s trial been restricted to the competent, properly admitted and relevant evidence, there is no question the jury would have been compelled to find Davie negligent and causative of Chance’s severe injuries. However, when a jury enthralled by law enforcement was allowed to hear extremely prejudicial testimony of Officer Smith’s opinion of Ms. Chance’s violation of California Vehicle Code 21954a, based solely on the unquestioned and inadmissible hearsay statements of Ms. White, Ms. Chance did not have a chance. By the time Ms. Chance’s counsel questioned Smith of his admitted lack of understanding of White’s inability to see what she reported based on her vantage point as documented by Smith the jury (save for Mr. Brown) had been rendered deaf. When the exact, sworn deposition testimony of Petra White was read to this same jury that contradicted Smith’s hastily summarized and belatedly reported statement of this same witness as to Chance’s manner and location of entry to Fourth Street and the brevity of White’s view due to the bus obstruction, the jury was apparently comatose with indifference.
Therefore, in the interest of fairness and justice, this verdict exonerating a bus driver who, according to all admissible evidence struck a pedestrian who was walking with right of way in a crosswalk, should be set aside and a new trial ordered.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.