United States v. Lizarraga-Tirado, No. 13-10530 (9th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed his conviction under 8 U.S.C. 1326 as a previously removed alien who entered and was found in the United States. At issue was whether a Google Earth satellite image and a digital “tack” labeled with GPS coordinates are considered hearsay. The court held that a tack placed by the Google Earth program and automatically labeled with GPS coordinates is not hearsay where the relevant assertion is not made by a person. The court concluded that the real work is done by the computer program itself. The program analyzes
the GPS coordinates and, without any human intervention, places a labeled tack on the satellite image. Because the program makes the relevant assertion - that the tack is
accurately placed at the labeled GPS coordinates - there is no statement as defined by the hearsay rule. In reaching that conclusion, the court joined other circuits that have held that machine statements are not hearsay. The court noted that machine statements may present evidentiary concerns addressed by the rules of authentication, which defendant did not raise an objection to at trial. Because the satellite image and tack-coordinates pair were not hearsay, their admission also did not violate the Confrontation Clause. The court rejected defendant's remaining claims in a memorandum disposition. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.