Court Finds Google Earth Images to Be Admissible Evidence

On September 27,2010, in State ex. Rel. J.B., the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey allowed the State to use two satellite photographic images obtained from Google Earth as illustrative aids. The case involved the lower court’s determination that a minor was a delinquent. Attempting to discredit the juvenile’s alibi that he was home at the time of an alleged burglary, the State offered into evidence the juvenile’s cell phone records and the testimony of a Verizon representative, who explained that cell phone calls are transmitted through the tower nearest the caller. The prosecution then offered photographs obtained from Google Earth to aid in showing that calls made from the juvenile’s cell phone during the burglary were transmitted through the cell phone tower that was closest to the burglary site (and not the tower closest to the juvenile’s home). Both towers, as well as the site of the burglary and the juvenile’s home, were pinpointed via Google Earth. Defense counsel objected, arguing that the prosecution failed to establish a “‘foundation in terms of how accurate [Google Earth] is.'”