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I had a small claims hearing and the defendants used a video that had been tampered with that kept slowing down and was skipping

Stockton, CA |

I had a small claims auto accident hearing. The defendant brought a film he acquired from the scene(gas station) the filmed appeared to be tampered with and was shown on there laptop with skipping and slowing down and stops before impact that resulted in my losing my case despite having medical evidence of injury. Is it legal for the judge to watch a video on a laptop of the defendant and judge speed with skips and slow down and tampering? Could I file SC-108 and get a re-trial?

I just found out that because the defendant wasn't driving the car and his friend was and her name was not on the small claims suit or the judgment I can sue her for negligence?

Attorney Answers 7

  1. In small claims court, it is legal for the judge to consider video evidence. If you were the plaintiff and lost, you unfortunately do not have the right to appeal to get a new trial (trial de novo). Form SC-108 (which is used to correct or cancel a judgment) would not apply to your situation.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

  2. It is legal for the judge to consider the video, however judges consider other factors such as the testimony and credibility of the witnesses. Because the video was skipping the judge will assign the weight of that evidence in his/her decision.

  3. Small claims judges are given broad latitude in what evidence they may consider. The rules of evidence that govern proceedings in Superior Court do not apply.

    SC-108 is used when the judgment contains a clerical error or when the judge applied the wrong law. Here, the court did not misapply the law, but made a factual determination that went against you. SC-108 is inapplicable.

  4. To win your case you needed to prove: (1) liability on the part of the other driver; (2) injuries/damages; and (3) that the accident was the cause of those injuries/damages. It sounds like you proved #2 and #3, but failed to prove #1. So that's why you lost. As a plaintiff in small claims court, the foregoing situation does not provide you a basis for an appeal. You are done. Your only recourse is to talk to the medical providers and try to get them to reduce and/or waive their bills/liens.

    ***This response is provided solely for general information purposes and is not intended as legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

  5. You can probably sue the friend, yes. This time I would get a PI lawyer to help you.

  6. As set forth by the other attorneys, a Small Claims Court judge can watch the video and use it as evidence unless you had some compelling factual evidence of tampering. You cannot appeal the decision since you were the plaintiff. You can probably sue the actual driver but use a lawyer this time, especially if you want to challenge the videotape.