Home > Uncategorized > Case Law Update: Lidar finally scientifically reliable?

Case Law Update: Lidar finally scientifically reliable?

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently held that LIDAR was scientifically reliable as to not require the state to present foundational evidence as to its admissibility – at least as that evidence pertains to measuring distances.  In State v. Branch, (A140218, June 1, 2011), the court did not go so far as to hold that LIDAR was scientifically reliable for determining the speed of an automobile.  However, this is clearly the first step in determining that evidence such as LIDAR should be admissible and considered scientifically reliable given it’s overwhelming use throughout the country.  (LIDAR has been used by the Portland Police Department for over thirteen years).  In Branch, the defendant had been arrested and convicted on two counts of unlawful delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school (ORS 475.882).  The officer used LIDAR to measure the distance from where the defendant sold to an undercover officer and the adjacent school.  In rejecting the defendant’s argument, the court held, “We conclude that the scientific principles and the means of applying those principles to the problem involved are so clearly apt for the end of measuring distances that those principles and their use for that purpose are indisputably valid.  Accordingly, the admission of the evidence in this case derived from the LIDAR device present’ a “clear case,’…and the state was not required to present foundational evidence…in order to establish the admissibility of the evidence.”

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