Alfredo A. v. Superior Court (People), No. S024618

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtLUCAS; ARABIAN; MOSK; In closing, I quote, with minor modifications; GEORGE
Citation18 Cal.Rptr.2d 869,5 Cal.4th 1
Parties, 849 P.2d 1330, 61 USLW 2747 ALFREDO A., Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent; The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.
Docket NumberNo. S024618
Decision Date04 May 1993

Page 869

18 Cal.Rptr.2d 869
5 Cal.4th 1, 849 P.2d 1330, 61 USLW 2747
ALFREDO A., Petitioner,
The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent;
The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.
No. S024618.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
May 4, 1993.
Rehearing Granted July 15, 1993.

Page 870

[5 Cal.4th 3] [849 P.2d 1331] John Hamilton Scott, Deputy Public Defender, Los Angeles, for petitioner.

Frederick R. Bennett, Asst. County Counsel, County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, for real party in interest.

LUCAS, Chief Justice.

In Gerstein v. Pugh (1975) 420 U.S. 103, 95 S.Ct. 854, 43 L.Ed.2d 54 (hereafter Gerstein ), the United States Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment requires a prompt judicial determination of "probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a crime" as a prerequisite to an extended pretrial detention following a warrantless arrest. (Id., at pp. 114, 120, 95 S.Ct. at pp. 863, 866.) The court stopped short of mandating a specific timetable for making a "prompt" determination of probable cause.

[5 Cal.4th 4] In County of Riverside v. McLaughlin (1991) 500 U.S. 44, ----, 111 S.Ct. 1661, ----, 114 L.Ed.2d 49 (hereafter McLaughlin ), the high court sought to further define the "promptness" requirement for making the probable cause determination mandated in Gerstein. The court held that, "Taking into account the competing interests articulated in Gerstein, we believe that a jurisdiction that provides judicial determinations of probable cause within 48 hours of arrest will, as a general matter, comply with the promptness requirement of Gerstein." (McLaughlin, supra, 500 U.S. at p. ----, 111 S.Ct. at p. 1670.)

Neither Gerstein nor McLaughlin was a juvenile detention case. We granted review in this case to determine whether the 48-hour rule of McLaughlin applies to juveniles and adults alike who are arrested without a warrant on suspicion of criminal activity.

Schall v. Martin (1984) 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, 81 L.Ed.2d 207 (hereafter Schall ), unlike Gerstein and McLaughlin, [849 P.2d 1332] was a juvenile detention case. Schall was decided well after Gerstein but prior to McLaughlin. Schall, and other decisions of the high court, make it abundantly clear that Fourth Amendment claims pertaining to juvenile detentions following warrantless arrests for criminal activity cannot be viewed in isolation. This is so because, in the words of the high court, juvenile proceedings are "fundamentally different" from adult criminal proceedings, requiring that a "balance" be struck between the "informality" and "flexibility" that necessarily characterize juvenile proceedings, and the requirement that those proceedings comport with the juvenile's constitutional rights and the " 'fundamental fairness demanded by the Due Process Clause.' " (Schall, supra, 467 U.S. at p. 263, 104 S.Ct. at p. 2409.)

Page 871

In light of the comprehensive analysis which the court invoked in Schall, supra, 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, to scrutinize the constitutionality of the juvenile detention provision there at issue, we do not believe the court subsequently envisioned that the 48-hour rule announced in McLaughlin, supra, 500 U.S. 44, 111 S.Ct. 1661--a Fourth Amendment ruling handed down in an adult detention case--would automatically apply in the juvenile detention setting. To conclude otherwise, we would have to ignore the fundamental differences between adult and juvenile proceedings recognized in all of the high court's cases that have specifically addressed juvenile detention issues.

California's statutory scheme basically affords juvenile detainees who have been arrested without a warrant a formal, adversarial "detention hearing" within 72 hours of a warrantless arrest, and prescribes various other procedures designed to ensure that the juvenile will be released, in accordance with well-established and codified presumptions, at the earliest possible time following arrest, and preferably to the custody of a parent or legal [5 Cal.4th 5] guardian. Given the fundamental differences in purpose and procedure between the treatment of adults and juveniles detained following a warrantless arrest for criminal activity, we have concluded, with one exception noted below, that our statutory scheme passes constitutional muster under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment principles discussed in Schall, supra, 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403.

As will be explained, however, one provision of the statutory scheme allows for an open-ended extension of the detention period--i.e., the period from the time of arrest to the "detention hearing," assuming the juvenile is not released prior to that hearing--for intervening "nonjudicial days," e.g., weekends and holidays. (See Welf. & Inst.Code, §§ 631, 632.) 1 We have concluded, consistent with the principles set forth in Schall, supra, 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, and McLaughlin, supra, 500 U.S. 44, 111 S.Ct. 1661, that this provision cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny; it is inconsistent with the "balance" otherwise struck in our statutes between the juvenile arrestee's right under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to a prompt postarrest detention determination, and the further necessity to allow for a measure of "informality" and "flexibility" in the making of that determination.


On July 24, 1991, petitioner Alfredo A., a minor, was taken into custody without a warrant pursuant to sections 602 and 625 2 on suspicion of having possessed cocaine base for sale on that date. (Health & Saf.Code, § 11351.5.)

[849 P.2d 1333] On July 25, 1991, petitioner sought his immediate release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District. It was alleged therein that petitioner was a juvenile who had been arrested without a warrant the previous day for commission of a criminal offense, and that: "Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, petitioner is entitled to a judicial determination of probable cause for his continued detention within 48 hours of his arrest. No [5 Cal.4th 6] such judicial determination has been made, and no determination will be made within the 48-hour period. This is because the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Juvenile Court, has adopted as its 'official position' that a juvenile

Page 872

is not entitled to such a prompt probable cause determination." 3

By an order to show cause filed the following day, the Court of Appeal determined to treat the petition for a writ of habeas corpus as a petition for a writ of mandate, and directed respondent Los Angeles County Superior Court to show cause why a peremptory writ of mandate should not issue ordering that judicial probable cause determinations for the extended postarrest detention of juveniles must be made within 48-hours of their arrest.

On that same day, July 26, 1991, a wardship petition was filed in the juvenile court alleging petitioner came within the provisions of section 602 by having violated Health and Safety Code sections 11351 and 11351.5 on July 24, 1991. However, when petitioner appeared in court on the next "judicial day" (July 29, 1991), no detention report was provided to the juvenile court in preparation for the detention hearing, and petitioner's immediate release was therefore ordered. He waived time for arraignment, which was calendared for August 19, 1991.

In the mandamus proceeding, petitioner acknowledged that his release after spending five days in custody rendered the petition moot as to him. The Court of Appeal nonetheless determined to hear and decide petitioner's systemic Fourth Amendment challenge to the juvenile court's "official position," concluding that similar claims had proved "capable of repetition, yet evading review" because "review usually takes longer than the [challenged] temporary detention...." (See Schall, supra, 467 U.S. at p. 256, fn. 3, 104 S.Ct. at p. 2405, fn. 3; Gerstein, supra, 420 U.S. at pp. 110-111, fn. 11, 95 S.Ct. at pp. 861-862, fn. 11.)

In its opinion, the Court of Appeal reviewed the relevant provisions of the Welfare and Institutions Code governing pretrial detention of juvenile arrestees. After determining that the juvenile detention issue in this case must be [5 Cal.4th 7] evaluated in light of the constitutional analysis conducted in Schall, supra, 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, the court concluded California's statutory juvenile detention scheme withstands constitutional scrutiny, reasoning: "[The] statutes provide procedural safeguards that accommodate the individual's right to liberty and the state's duty to control crime. They reflect the balance that must be struck between the informality and flexibility of juvenile proceedings even as they comport with the fundamental fairness required by due process. The statutory scheme protects a minor's right to freedom, consistent with the state interest in protecting the minor and society." Implicit in these conclusions was the court's rejection of petitioner's claim that McLaughlin 's 48-hour rule applies to juvenile as well as adult postarrest detention proceedings.

849 P.2d 1334


A. Mootness of Petitioner's Claim

As noted, petitioner acknowledges that his release after spending five days in pretrial custody has technically rendered this proceeding moot as to him. The Court of Appeal nevertheless determined to hear and decide the claim. We agree that the issue, as presented in this case, is ripe for resolution. The high court reached a similar conclusion in Schall and Gerstein:

"Although the pretrial detention of the class representatives has long since ended ... this case is not moot for the same reason that the class action in Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 110, n. 11 [95 S.Ct. 854, 861, n. 11, 43 L.Ed.2d 54] (1975), was not mooted by the termination of the claims of

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the named plaintiffs. 'Pretrial detention is by nature temporary, and it is...

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