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Am I allowed to use a copy of the security video surveillance from the mall parking where an accident occurred as evidence?

Palo Alto, CA |

I just came from a small claims court yesterday. The defendant who is being sued brought a lawyer with her. Her lawyer advised her to have the commissioner hear our case, so we were set back two months.

I read online that a lawyer may not represent a client in a small claims court? So when exactly is he allowed to assist her?


I went to the mall where the accident occurred for an accident report, and they informed me that they may have footage from the accident still.

Am I able to use the footage as evidence in a small claims court? If so, is there anything I need to know about presenting it?

Certain rules?
What I am allowed to play the footage on?
Can I have it on my laptop or would I need to make a tape/dvd of it?

My mom was backing out of her parking spot to pick up afriend waiting 20ft away to go to the bank. While backing out, she noticed another car had started to back out at the same time. The exit was closer to the Red Audi, than my moms car. So she stopped backing out and waited for the Audi to finish backing out. After the Red Audi finished backing out with her rear bumper nearly parallel to mom's car, the Audi stopped and I guess forgot to shift to drive and stayed in reverse. She backed up into my mom's driver door, while mom was watching from her window and honking. The whole time my mom had been in Park. My mom's friend was on the curb, and saw the whole accident. The driver of the red audi got out of her car, started yelling and making a scene saying she was late picking up her child. My mom told her that if she left, she would report her as a hit and run. And then a bystander who did NOT witness the accident came to the two cars and told the owner of the Red Audi that she would be a witness for her.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    You've asked a lot here, but here goes. The rule about not being allowed to have an attorney represent you in small claims means that the attorney can not speak for you in court. He or she can come with you and sit at your side and advise you up until you get up in front of the judge. What he cannot do is speak for you to the judge.

    As to the other side choosing the commissioner, its not clear to me what the purpose is in your case, other than perhaps causing a delay. In wrongful detainer cases, I was once advised NOT to agree to a commissioner, but instead to demand a judge. I'm not sure if there is somehow a benefit to a defendant having a commissioner in a case like yours. Hopefully, its not a question of defendant's attorney knowing the commissioner well or NOT liking the judge that would have heard your case.

    You should be allowed to use the film footage in small claims court. I suggest you check with the court in advance and see if they are set up to assist you in showing it. If not, you should be able to simply present it on your laptop, but check with the court about this too . . . in advance. In small claims court, the only individuals that need to see what you present are the judge, the opposing party, and you. So my guess is the judge will allow you to bring your laptop up to the front of the courtroom where the three of you can view it together.

    Best of luck.

  2. Simple answer is YES, the footage is evidence and would in all probability be admitted.
    You will need to write and confirm that they do not destroy, lose, or overwrite the footage, and have a subpoena issued to have them bring the footage to court. Bring your laptop and BE READY to PLAY. Tell the court what you have and that it is unedited. Have the friend there and have the friend preview the tape so the friend can narrate what she saw: standing and watching, backing out, while in process of backing out ... it was THEN that the other backup lights came on, saw your mother stop, saw the other back out and STOP, and saw the other ... suddenly...... lurch/crash ...... that is what I READ from your note.

    Good luck.

    NOTE: This answer is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an attorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.

  3. Yes you can. Check with the court to see if there are any procedures for having it admitted. Generally the rules of evidence, procedure in small claims are pretty lax so you shouldn't have any problem.