In a decision that embraces the use of modern-day technology to assist the trier of fact, the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that neither a Google Earth satellite image nor a program-generated digital “tack” of GPS coordinates placed on the satellite image is hearsay for purposes of proving a defendant’s location at the time of arrest.  Defendant Paciano Lizarraga-Tirado was convicted of illegally re-entering the United States as a previously removed alien.  He appealed the conviction, arguing that he was on the Mexico side of the U.S.-Mexico border at the time of his arrest.  At trial, one of the arresting Border Patrol agents testified that she recorded the GPS coordinates of the location of arrest using a handheld GPS device.  An exhibit of a Google Earth satellite image depicting the area of arrest and marked with a digital “tack” of the GPS coordinates provided by the arresting agent was admitted into evidence over the defendant’s objection that the image was hearsay. Hearsay–an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted–is inadmissible as evidence unless an exception applies because a witness should ideally testify under oath, in the presence of the trier of fact, and subject to cross-examination.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rules that Google Earth Image and Location Marker Not Hearsay