Corey, In re

Decision Date01 October 1968
Citation266 Cal.App.2d 295,72 Cal.Rptr. 115
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesIn re Charles Thomas COREY, a Minor. Robert NINO, Chief Probation Officer of Santa Clara County, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Charles Thomas COREY, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 24995.

Sheldon Portman, Public Defender, Thomas C. Hastings and Harry J. Delizonna, Deputy Public Defenders, County of Santa Clara, San Jose, for appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Robert R. Granucci, James B. Cuneo, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, for respondent.

CHRISTIAN, Associate Justice.

Charles Corey appeals from an order of the juvenile court, entered under the provisions of section 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, adjudging him a ward of the court. Wardship was determined upon a finding that the minor resisted an officer, in violation of Penal Code section 148. Although there was sharp conflict in the testimony received at a contested hearing, there was substantial admissible evidence indicating that the boy wilfully resisted an officer who had come to investigate a neighborhood affray involving several youngsters. Appellant's sole contention is that the court erred in examining, before the jurisdictional hearing, a probation report containing material which was both inadmissible and prejudicial on the issue of jurisdiction--material which it was entirely proper for the court to consider in choosing a proper disposition for the minor after jurisdiction had been established. We conclude that this contention is sound and therefore reverse the order of wardship.

After hearing evidence and announcing a finding that appellant was a minor coming within the provisions of section 602 as alleged in the petition, the judge declared:

'Now, this brings us to the second part of our proceeding, which we call the disposition hearing, at which time we decide what action to take next. Now, in order to assist the Court in making this kind of a determination, the Probation Department has prepared a special study which we call a social study. This study was presented to the Court last Friday. The Court read it through thoroughly and reviewed it again this afternoon before you came to Court. Now, this tells the Court first of all what previous difficulties the boy has been involved in and what has been done about it. It tells the Court what statements were made by the boy to the Probation Officer, and what statements were made by the parents to the Probation Officer. His school report is summarized for the Court. His Santa Clara County Welfare Department summary is included, his Juvenile Hall report, his psychological report, his personal history and family background, and last of all, the Probation Officer evaluates, that is, summarizes and adds up all this data and makes a recommendation to the Court.'

The judge's statement establishes beyond question that the personal history and social study contained in the dispositional report of the probation officer contained inadmissible matter prejudicial to appellant's defense and that the judge, having read the report before the hearing, had made himself aware of alleged facts which could not lawfully have been brought before him in evidence presented at the jurisdictional hearing. The question is whether the court's action was permissible under Welfare and Institutions Code sections 701, 702, and 706.

A brief historical review is helpful to an understanding of the meaning and intent of the statute. The well-known informality of earlier juvenile court procedures was to a degree purposeful, but it may also be attributed to two other circumstances: the benign role of the court as provider of supervision of children lacking effective parental guidance tended to obscure the adjudicative function performed by the court in any case where the child resists wardship; this obscurity was aggravated by the total unavailability of legal counsel in the usual case for either the probation officer or the child (compare People v. Dotson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 891, 895--896, 299 P.2d 875).

Under former section 639 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, * it was the duty of the probation officer to 'inquire into the antecedents, character, family history, and environment of every person brought before the court * * * and * * * make his report in writing to the judge thereof.' Although this report commonly contained both a summary of the alleged facts bringing the child before the court and a social history bearing on the question of disposition in the event wardship were established, it was held that the report 'became a judicial record that the Juvenile Court Judge should consider in deciding the case.' (In re Halamuda (1948) 85 Cal.App.2d 219, 223, 192 P.2d 781, 783; In re Patterson (1962) 58 Cal.2d 848, 852, 27 Cal.Rptr. 10, 377 P.2d 74; In re Garcia (1962) 201 Cal.App.2d 662, 20 Cal.Rptr. 313.) Throughout the United States, probation officers have commonly followed the practice of preparing for the judge's perusal before the jurisdictional hearing a single report covering both the jurisdictional and the dispositional aspects of the case. This practice has been condemned repeatedly as taxing unnecessarily the capacity of the judge to wall off in his mind, as he determines the issue of jurisdiction, detrimental information included in the social study. (See Note (1958) The California Juvenile Court, 10 Stan.L.Rev. 471, 494; Note (1958) Employment of Social Investigation Reports in Criminal and Juvenile Proceedings, 58 Colum.L.Rev. 702, 718; Note (1953) Correct Use of Background Reports in Juvenile Delinquency Cases, 5 Syracuse L.Rev. 67, 69.)

The California juvenile court law had not received a comprehensive reevaluation for many years. Therefore in 1959 the Governor of California appointed a Special Study Commission on Juvenile Justice to make a thorough analysis. One of the commission's criticisms of Juvenile justice in California was 'that juvenile courts do not distinguish between the jurisdictional facts and the social data at the...

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16 cases
  • Gladys R., In re
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • January 30, 1970
    ...hearing (Welf. & Inst.Code, §§ 701, 702, 706; In re Steven F. (1969) 270 A.C.A. 643, 75 Cal.Rptr. 887; In re Corey (1968) 266 Cal.App.2d 295, 296, 73 Cal.Rptr. 115). We also conclude that the juvenile court should consider whether a child appreciates the wrongfulness of her conduct in deter......
  • M., In re
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • February 20, 1969 oral argument that the trial court had not read the probation report prior to ruling on the question of waiver (see In re Corey (1968) 266 A.C.A. 311, 72 Cal.Rptr. 115), he conceded that the court would have been aware in any event that the youth who stood before him had already been adj......
  • People v. McFarland
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • May 24, 1971
    ... ... (Cf. In re Corey (1968) 266 Cal.App.2d 295 (72 Cal.Rptr. 115).) It is then provided in section 707 (in language which might sequentially be better placed before the dispositional provisions of section 702) that (a)t any time During a hearing upon a petition * * * when substantial evidence has been adduced to ... ...
  • People v. Arauz
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • March 17, 1970
    ... ...         Appellant asserts this provision operates to prejudice the minor rather than protect him is in violation of the rule established in In re Corey, 266 Cal.App.2d 295, 72 Cal.Rptr. 115, reiterated in In re Steven F., 270 A.C.A. 643, 75 Cal.Rptr. 887. Corey construed the requirements of Welfare and Institutions Code, sections 701, 702 and 706, and did not deal with section 707. It held it was prejudicial and improper for the judge to read ... ...
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