11 Cal.App.3d 1193, 26932, In re Thomas G.

Docket Nº:26932
Citation:11 Cal.App.3d 1193, 90 Cal.Rptr. 361
Opinion Judge:[10] Elkington
Party Name:In re Thomas G.
Attorney:[7] John D. Nunes, Public Defender, Douglas C. Rigg and Robert Betzenderfer, Assistant Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant. [8] Thomas C. Lynch, Attorney General, Robert R. Granucci and Gary Garfinkle, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Case Date:October 15, 1970
Court:California Court of Appeals

Page 1193

11 Cal.App.3d 1193

90 Cal.Rptr. 361

In re Thomas G., a minor.

James D. CALLAHAN, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, Plaintiff and Respondent,


Thomas G., Defendant and Appellant.

Civ. 26932.

California Court of Appeal, First District, First Division

Oct. 15, 1970.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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John D. Nunes, Public Defender, County of Alameda, Douglas C. Rigg, Asst. Public Defender, Oakland, for defendant and appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., State of California, Robert R. Granucci, Gary Garfinkle, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, for plaintiff and respondent.

ELKINGTON, Associate Justice.

By orders of the juvenile court Thomas G., a minor, was (1) found to have violated the provisions of Health and Safety Code, section 11910, and therefore to be a person described by Welfare and Institutions Code, section 602, (2) declared a ward of the court, and (3) placed under the supervision of the court's probation officer, to reside in the home of his parents. His appeal from the 'judgment' will be treated as an appeal from these orders. Cecil Whitoff was dean of students of a Contra Costa County high school. He was charged with the duty of enforcing student discipline, a substantial part of which concerned the use of dangerous drugs and narcotics by students. A classmate of Thomas told the dean that he had seen Thomas take a pill in the electric shop and that he was 'possibly obviously intoxicated' and 'perhaps unable to maintain himself.' The dean testified he 'believed that there would be good reason for (the classmate) to say this and so I desired to find out if this were true.' He and the high school principal went to the electric shop where Thomas was asked to return with them to the dean's office. At the principal's request Thomas there emptied his pockets on the dean's desk. Among the articles disclosed was a 'Kodak film canister.' The canister was opened by the dean and found to contain amphetamine pills, a restricted dangerous drug (see Health & Saf. Code, § 11901; the offense is a felony). The police were called and the juvenile court proceedings against Thomas were commenced.

Thomas contends that the conduct of the school officials leading up to the

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discovery of contraband on his person was violative of Fourth Amendment requirements. Therefore, he insists, the amphetamine pills found on his person were erroneously allowed in evidence.

Preliminarily we observe the now established principle that Fourth Amendment probable cause may result from information received from a so-called 'citizen-informer' not shown to be involved in criminal activities, even though his credibility has not previously been tested. Under that rule when such a person, acting openly in aid of law enforcement, reports that he has observed criminal activity, corroboration of his reliability is unnecessary. (People v. Hogan, 71 A.C. 927, 930, 80 Cal.Rptr. 28; People v. Scoma, 71 A.C. 349, 355, fn. 7, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491; People v. Barrett, 2 Cal.App.3d 142, 147--148, 82 Cal.Rptr. 424; People v. Sesser, 269 Cal.App.2d 707, 711, 75 Cal.Rptr. 297; People v. Guidry, 262 Cal.App.2d 495, 497--498, 68 Cal.Rptr. 794; People v. Waller, 260 Cal.App.2d 131, 137, 67 Cal.Rptr. 8; People v. Gardner, 252 Cal.App.2d 320, 324--325, 60 Cal.Rptr. 321; People v. Barcenas, 251 Cal.App.2d 405, 408, 59 Cal.Rptr. 419; People v. Griffin, 250 Cal.App.2d 545, 550--551, 58 Cal.Rptr. 707; People v. Lewis, 240 Cal.App.2d 546, 549--551, 49 Cal.Rptr. 579; People v. Wright, 216 Cal.App.2d 866, 871, 31 Cal.Rptr. 432.) Thomas' classmate, reporting that Thomas had taken a pill and was 'possibly obviously intoxicated,' may reasonably be compared to a citizen-informer reporting a crime to the police.

Basic to our review is the frequently reiterated dictum of the Supreme Courts of this state and nation concerning Fourth Amendment reasonableness. 'There is no exact formula for the determination of reasonableness. Each case must be decided on its own facts and circumstances--and on the total atmosphere of the case.' (People v. Ingle, 53 Cal.2d 407, 412, 2 Cal.Rptr. 14, 17, 560; and see state and federal authority there cited.)

Obviously, we must consider the facts and circumstances of this case in the light of the omnipresent evil of drug and narcotic abuse among the young people of this nation. It is a problem not to be ignored, but rather to be coped with in a manner that does no violence to constitutional standards.

In the situation presented to Dean Whitoff three options seem to have been available to him.

First: Having probable cause to believe that a felony had been or was being committed, he was authorized by law to make a citizen's arrest (Pen.Code, § 837) of the child, or to call a peace officer for that purpose (Pen.Code, § 836). A search of the minor's person would then be expressly permitted by law. (People v. Ross, 67 Cal.2d 64, 69, 60 Cal.Rptr. 254, 429

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P.2d 606.) Or choosing not to resort to that extremity, he or the police might have taken the information to a magistrate and requested a warrant permitting a search of the minor's person. (Pen.Code, § 1524.) As is often the case, the arrest made on probable cause may have turned out to be ill founded, or the warrant search unproductive. But, regardless of the result,...

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