Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Pennsylvania Radar Guns Questioned

According to allegations reported in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Pennsylvania state police are using defective Genesis radar guns that would clock a parked car at 70 m.p.h. According to a police expert subpoenaed to testify in a speeding case, the electrical systems in the police vehicles (Ford Crown Victorias) have to strain to handle the heavy electrical load of the radar and other police equipment. This causes the vehicles' alternators to work overtime, producing electrical noise that the radar guns misinterpret as a valid radar signal. The radar gun's manufacturer has recommended a fix, but the state police say it's unnecessary and continue to use the devices.
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.