Cameron, In re

Decision Date23 April 1968
Docket Number10330,Cr. 10563
Citation439 P.2d 633,67 Cal.Rptr. 529,68 Cal.2d 487
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 439 P.2d 633 In re William CAMERON on Habeas Corpus.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Edsel W. Haws, Roger E. Venturi and Edward A. Hinz, Jr., Deputy Attys. Gen., for respondent.

TRAYNOR, Chief Justice.

After two trials in which the jury disagreed, a third jury in 1959 found William Cameron guilty of murder in the first degree and fixed the penalty at life imprisonment. Cameron has filed two petitions for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that involuntary confessions were introduced into evidence and that the prosecution deliberately suppressed evidence indicating that he was innocent. The two proceedings have been consolidated.

The Attorney General contends at the outset that habeas corpus is not an available remedy on the ground that Cameron could have raised the contentions now urged on an appeal from the judgment but failed to do so. Although Cameron filed a timely notice of appeal, he failed to prosecute the appeal and on October 28, 1960, the Court of Appeal dismissed it. Cameron points out, however, that at that time there was a substantial risk that had he secured a reversal of the judgment on appeal he would have received the death penalty on retrial, for it was not until November 1963 that this court overruled People v. Grill (1907) 151 Cal. 592, 91 P. 515, and held that a defendant who successfully appealed from a judgment imposing life imprisonment for first degree murder could not be given the death penalty on retrial. (People v. Henderson (1963) 60 Cal.2d 482, 495--497, 35 Cal.Rptr. 77, 386 P.2d 677.) Cameron contends that the risk that he might receive the death penalty on retrial excuses his failure to pursue his remedy by appeal and that he acted with reasonable diligence to secure relief after the Henderson case was decided. 1

Habeas corpus is available to challenge violations of constitutional rights relevant to the determination of guilt if the petitioner presents an adequate excuse for failing to invoke his remedy by appeal. (People v. Treloar (1966) 64 Cal.2d 141, 143--144, 49 Cal.Rptr. 100, 410 P.2d 620; In re Spencer (1965) 63 Cal.2d 400, 406, 46 Cal.Rptr. 753, 406 P.2d 33; In re Shipp (1965) 62 Cal.2d 547, 552--553, 43 Cal.Rptr. 3, 399 P.2d 571.) Although we are not bound by federal standards in determining what constitutes an adequate excuse for failing to invoke the remedy by appeal, we have recognized the relevance of the federal habeas corpus test that permits denial of relief 'to an applicant who has deliberately bypassed the orderly procedure of the state courts.' (Fay v. Noia (1963) 372 U.S. 391, 438, 83 S.Ct. 822, 849, 9 L.Ed.2d 837; see In re Shipp, supra, 62 Cal.2d at p. 554, 43 Cal.Rptr. 3, 399 P.2d 571; In re Sterling (1965) 63 Cal.2d 486, 489, 47 Cal.Rptr. 205, 407 P.2d 5; People v. Treloar, supra, 64 Cal.2d at p. 144, 49 Cal.Rptr. 100, 410 P.2d 620.) Since the United States Supreme Court held in Fay v. Noia that fear of receiving the death penalty on retrial precluded finding that a failure to appeal was a deliberate bypass of a state remedy, we conclude that such fear also excuses a failure to appeal for purposes of state habeas corpus. (See In re Shipp, supra, 62 Cal.2d at pp. 555--556, 43 Cal.Rptr. 3, 399 P.2d 571.)

The question remains whether Cameron was in fear of the death penalty. In an earlier proceeding to determine whether or not to reinstate Cameron's appeal (see footnote 1, ante), the Court of Appeal ordered a reference directed to the question whether Cameron expressly or impliedly approved abandonment of his appeal, and thereafter it concluded that he personally abandoned the appeal. Although the reference was not directed to Cameron's motive for so doing, it appears from the record made before the referee that fear of the possibility that Cameron might receive the death penalty on retrial was a substantial factor in the joint decision of Cameron, his father, and his counsel to abandon the appeal. Accordingly, we conclude that Cameron's abandonment of his appeal does not preclude his seeking relief in these habeas corpus proceedings.

From the record of Cameron's trial, it appears that Vivian Malone was killed and badly mutilated in her trailer at a trailer court on December 22, 1958, between 11 p.m. and 11:50 p.m. Cameron and his friend, Glenn A. Becker III, testified to the events preceding the killing. Both young men were students at Chico State College; each was married and had a baby. Both lived at the trailer court. Earlier in the day, Mrs. Malone had invited Cameron and his wife for a drink. They declined the invitation at that time but stated that they would accept at a later time.

The Camerons had invited the Beckers to a taco dinner. The Beckers arrived about 6:30 p.m. During dinner, between about 6:30 and 8 p.m., Cameron drank about two quarts of beer. The Beckers returned to their trailer after dinner. Shortly thereafter, Becker came back to the Cameron trailer and he and Cameron decided to buy some stout. Between 8 p.m. and 9:30 or 10 p.m., Cameron drank seven or eight Vivian Malone was a 50-year-old woman who lived alone. She answered the door clothed in a bathrobe and invited the men in She had been drinking most of the day and was intoxicated. She brought out a bottle of whiskey, and each took a tumbler full, approximately two and three-fourths ounces of whiskey, diluted only by one ice cube. As they talked and drank, the conversation turned to sex. Mrs Malone indicated her willingness to have sexual relations with both men, but both declined.

[439 P.2d 636] cans of stout. Cameron then suggested to Becker that they go to Mrs. Malone's trailer to accept her invitation for a drink.

Cameron testified that he poured himself two more drinks and that he did not know whether Mrs. Malone or Becker had any more to drink. He testified that he had no independent recollection of Becker leaving. He also testified that Mrs. Malone asked him to leave, that he stated he wanted to finish his drink, and that she began to call him foul names. He then recalls being kicked in the groin, but does not remember who kicked him.

He further testified that he remembered nothing that occurred after being kicked in the groin except for vague, fragmentary, and disoriented recollections of the following specific facts: He recalled being on his hands and knees and seeing a body and some blood. He remembered sitting on Becker's doorstep. He remembered sitting in a car and hearing someone say that there had been a killing. He remembered being in a room, being interrogated by one of the police officers and Assistant District Attorney Mulkey, and being told that he had killed a woman and severed her breast. He recalled being taken to a hospital and being given a shot. He remembered talking to two psychiatrists and being in the office of a polygraph operator, Mr. MacVarish. He remembered that Mr. MacVarish stated that Mr. Mulkey would not be pleased with the results of the tests and that they would have to be done over. He remembered being interrogated. His memory of all events following the time Mrs. Malone began calling him foul names was very vague and fragmentary.

Becker confirmed Cameron's account of the evening until Becker left Mrs. Malone's trailer about 11 p.m. He also testified that Cameron appeared at Becker's doorstep about 11:50 p.m. He appeared to be dazed, and told Becker that he thought he had killed Mrs. Malone. Becker saw blood on Cameron's white jacket and went over to the Malone trailer, where he saw enough to know that something was wrong. Becker then took Cameron to the Cameron trailer and telephoned the police, who arrived within a matter of minutes, at midnight. They placed Cameron under arrest almost immediately, after being advised by Becker that Cameron was the man they were looking for.

Cameron was placed in a squad car near the Malone trailer where he waited for about five or ten minutes. During this time, the officers were taking pictures of the interior of the trailer and the area surrounding it. Assistant District Attorney Mulkey had been called to the scene, and viewed the interior of the trailer. He was told the general details of the killing, including the fact that Mrs. Malone's dog and cat had been killed. Actually, the cat was unharmed.

Mr. Mulkey and one of the police officers then drove Cameron to the Chico police station. Mr. Mulkey noted that Cameron appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and therefore had him examined by a physician at the police station. The physician gave Cameron physical co-ordination tests and took a blood sample. The blood sample indicated that Cameron had a blood alcohol level of .18 percent. The physician and Mr. Mulkey both concluded, however, that Cameron was mentally competent for interrogation. Cameron was given fresh clothing by the police and may have been questioned before The attending physician at the hospital, Dr. Swinderman, placed Cameron under heavy sedation without knowing that he had a high blood alcohol level of approximately .18 percent and without examining him. He acted upon a nurse's observations of Cameron and the story told her by the police that Cameron had recently committed a murder, was agitated, and was in danger of harming himself. Cameron was sedated by an injection of 300 milligrams of Thorazine (chlorpromazine) at approximately 3:30 a.m. on December 23. The normal initial dose is 25 to 50 milligrams, 3 and Thorazine is contraindicated for persons who are under the influence of alcohol because of the potentiating interaction between alcohol and Thorazine. Cameron was then placed in a padded cell containing only a mattress. The hospital report states that at 3:45 a.m. he was still sobbing...

To continue reading

Request your trial
91 cases
  • People v. Nudd
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • July 31, 1974
    ...or psychological coercion. (Rogers v. Richmond (1961) 365 U.S. 534, 544, 81 S.Ct. 735, 5 L.Ed.2d 760; In re Cameron (1968) 68 Cal.2d 487, 498, 67 Cal.Rptr. 529, 439 P.2d 633; People v. Lopez (1963) 60 Cal.2d 223, 248, 32 Cal.Rptr. 424, 384 P.2d 16.) 'A principal objective of (Miranda) was t......
  • People v. Hinds
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • April 6, 1984
    ...368, 376-377, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 1780-1781, 12 L.Ed.2d 908), the lack of a specific objection is immaterial. (In re Cameron (1968) 68 Cal.2d 487, 503, 67 Cal.Rptr. 529, 439 P.2d 633; People v. Underwood (1964) 61 Cal.2d 113, 126, 37 Cal.Rptr. 313, 389 P.2d 937.) 3"In order to be voluntary, a co......
  • People v. Nicholas
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • November 19, 1980 reason or comprehend a result were in fact so disabled that he was incapable of free or rational choice." (In re Cameron, 68 Cal.2d 487, 498, 67 Cal.Rptr. 529, 439 P.2d 633, citing Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 308, 309, 83 S.Ct. 745, 754, 755, 9 L.Ed.2d 770.) The circumstances must be......
  • Tahl, In re
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • November 7, 1969
    ...because he was under the influence of 'six doses' of phenobarbital. In response, the majority cites In re Cameron, 68 Cal.2d 487, 501, fn. 8, 67 Cal.Rptr. 529, 537, 439 P.2d 633, 641, for the proposition that '(w)ith a hypnotic drug * * * the fact that the individual is conscious indicates ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Other pretrial motions
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books California Drunk Driving Law - Volume 1-2 Volume 1
    • March 30, 2022
    ...lengthy, relentless questioning of a defendant in great pain who was in and out of consciousness was coercive. Cf., In re Cameron (1968) 68 Cal.2d 487 where the defendant, at 0.18% BAC resisted the officer’s attempted interrogation until he was given a large dose of Thorazine, a potent tran......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT