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People v. Gray

Supreme Court of California

March 13, 2014

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
STEVEN EDWARD GRAY, Defendant and Appellant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. C165383, Lawrence Cho, Judge. Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Three, No. B236337.

Law Offices of Sherman M. Ellison, Sherman M. Ellison; Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker and Robert Cooper for Defendant and Appellant.

Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker and Robert Cooper for Drew Wren as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Law Offices of Joseph W. Singleton and Joseph W. Singleton for Mishel Rabiean as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Dapeer, Rosenblit & Litvak, William Litvak and Caroline K. Castillo for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Opinion by Kennard, J., expressing the unanimous view of the court.

OPINION

[58 Cal.Rptr.3d 712] [319 P.3d 990] KENNARD, J.

Statutory law allows a city to install at an intersection an automated traffic enforcement device that photographs a traffic law offender,

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who is then issued a citation, as was defendant, who went through a red light in Culver City and was later convicted of violating the red light traffic law (Veh. Code, § 21453, subd. (a); all further undesignated statutory references are to the Vehicle Code). Operation of such a device must be preceded by a public announcement and an initial 30-day period during which warnings are given instead of citations. (§ 21455.5, subd. (b); hereafter section 21455.5(b).) At issue here is whether those statutory requirements pertain only to the city's first installation of an automated traffic enforcement device within a city, or, as defendant argues, also to each later installation of such devices at different intersections within the city.

Defendant's view finds support in the overall statutory scheme involving automated traffic enforcement. Thus, unlike the Court of Appeal, we conclude that the public announcement and warning requirements apply to each installation of such a device. We nevertheless affirm the Court of Appeal, which upheld defendant's conviction, because, like that court, we reject defendant's argument that compliance with the statute's requirement of a 30-day period [58 Cal.Rptr.3d 713] of warning notices is a precondition to issuing a valid citation for a red light traffic law violation.

I

In 1998, the City of Culver City (the City) installed its first automated traffic enforcement device, at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and La Cienega Boulevard, under the authority of section 21455.5's subdivision (a). For convenience, we will refer to such devices as " red light cameras," as that is the term used in popular discourse. In compliance with section 21455.5(b), the City made a public announcement concerning its initial red light camera, and it gave violators warning notices, instead of citations, for the first 30 days that the camera was operational. Thereafter, the City installed red light cameras at several other intersections without making new ...


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