Speeding Virginia Testimony Trooper Accuracy Hearsay Evidence Lawyers Salem City

Speeding Virginia Testimony Trooper Accuracy Hearsay Evidence Lawyers Salem City

RODGERS V. COMMONWEALTH
Facts:

Rodgers was convicted of violating the speed limit on the testimony of Trooper B of the State Police, sole witness for the Commonwealth. The officer testified that he and the Trooper on the day in question set up the radar equipment following standard procedure: each drove his car through a zone at stated speeds while the other observed and checked the radar reading and that as thus checked the machine was working accurately when Rodgers’s speed was shown. But Trooper’s testimony as to the radar readings observed in the test by Trooper was hearsay, and defendant’s objection to it on that ground should have been sustained. The judgment of conviction was reversed because of this error.

Speeding Virginia Testimony Trooper Accuracy Hearsay Evidence Lawyers Salem City

Speeding Virginia Testimony Trooper Accuracy Hearsay Evidence Lawyers

Issue:
  • Whether the testimony of Trooper B concerning that part of the radar accuracy test performed by Trooper D constitutes hearsay evidence?
Discussion:

The trooper B testified about the accuracy of the radar. The Commonwealth asked the trooper if the radar was found to be accurate by another trooper B. Defendant’s counsel objected to the question in that it called for hearsay evidence. Defense counsel suggested that the trooper D should testify as to what speeds he drove his cruiser through the zone of operation and what speeds he read on the radar meter when defendant’s car was driven through the radar zone.

In Royals v. Commonwealth (1957), 198 Va. 883, 96 S.E.2d 816, the conviction of speeding on the ground was reversed that the trooper testifying on behalf of the Commonwealth as to the accuracy of the radar machine said that he understood the machine had been properly tested but that he had no firsthand or actual knowledge of the test. In that case it was said “This testimony is not based on the personal knowledge of the witnesses and is clearly hearsay or mere deductions drawn by them. A person accused of violating a criminal law is entitled to be confronted by his accusers, and he cannot be lawfully convicted on hearsay evidence or inferences deduced by witnesses.”

The trial court in ruling that such testimony was admissible treated the accuracy test as one operation thereby obviating the necessity for both troopers involved to testify. If one officer can testify not only as to the readings he personally made but also as to the readings that a second officer observed out of his presence, this would obviously have the effect of the officer surmising that such test for accuracy was carried out, thus violating the rule laid down in the second Royals case, supra.

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Article written by A Sris

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Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.