Cotton v. Superior Court In and For Imperial County

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtWHITE; GIBSON
Citation56 Cal.2d 459,364 P.2d 241,15 Cal.Rptr. 65
Decision Date07 August 1961
Parties, 364 P.2d 241, 43 Lab.Cas. P 50,334 Robert COTTON, Jr. et al., Petitioners, v. SUPERIOR COURT of the State of Callfornia IN AND FOR the COUNTY OF IMPERIAL, Respondent. L. A. 26351

Page 65

15 Cal.Rptr. 65
56 Cal.2d 459, 364 P.2d 241, 43 Lab.Cas. P 50,334
Robert COTTON, Jr. et al., Petitioners,
v.
SUPERIOR COURT of the State of Callfornia IN AND FOR the COUNTY OF IMPERIAL, Respondent.
L. A. 26351.
Aug. 7, 1961.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 7, 1961.

[56 Cal.2d 460] Charles K. Hackler, Los Angeles, Marshall Ross, Beverly Hills, and Richard W. Petherbridge, El Centro, for petitioners.

A. L. Wirin and Fred Okrand, Los Angeles, amici curiae, for petitioners.

James E. Marable, Dist. Atty., and James E. Hamilton, Jr., Deputy Dist. Atty., El Centro, for respondent.

WHITE, Justice.

By this proceeding in prohibition the twenty-three petitioners challenge the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of Imperial County to try them on an indictment returned by the grand jury.

It is the contention of petitioners that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the various counts of the indictment in question.

After amendment thereof, and action by respondent court dismissing certain counts

Page 66

[364 P.2d 242] pursuant to the provisions of Section 995 of the Penal Code, the indictment charges the petitioners and one Gregoric Nova Sanchez in nine counts with the commission of the following offenses:

[56 Cal.2d 461] I. Conspiracy to violate Penal Code section 404 (rioting), Penal Code section 245 (assault with deadly weapon and felonious assault), Penal Code section 602 subdivision (e) (trespass upon real property) and Penal Code section 207 (kidnapping).

II. Assault with deadly weapon upon Corona. III, IV, VI. Aggravated assult on Martinez, Ramirez and Huante, respectively.

IX, X, XVI. Kidnapping Huante, Ramirez and Martinez, respectively. XVII. Riot.

The incident which occasioned the indictment arose at the Joe Corona Labor Camp which is used to house farm workers, mostly Mexican contract workers (referred to as 'braceros'). The camp had been picketed for some time by the AFL-CIO in an effort to induce the braceros to join a strike being conducted for the purpose of raising wages from 90 cents to $1.25 an hour and for union contracts. On the morning of February 9, 1961, a caravan of cars and trucks brought about 50 members of the union to the camp gate. At first, they verbally attempted to persuade the braceros to join their cause, and to come out of the camp. When the gate was opened to allow Fred Corna, a food contractor, into the camp, some of the pickets forced their way in. Fighting started, and Corona, Martinez (a cook), Ramirez and Huante (both braceros) were injured. When Deputy Sheriff Prikola entered the camp and placed everyone under arrest, the picketers ran to their cars and departed. All petitioners, except two (Lassig and Martin) were occupants of these cars and were apprehended by Deputy Sheriff Sutton. Lassig and Martin were indicted on the testimony of witnesses to the incident.

It is contended that there was no planned conspiracy, but that the alleged crimes were a '* * * spontaneous outgrowth of an unplanned altercation over whether a camp gate should be kept open or closed * * *.' Evidence brought forth by the prosecution in regard to the conspiracy was furnished primarily by three witnesses, who observed the caravan of cars and heard statements by some of the petitioners that could be construed to support the theory of conspiracy.

Section 939.8 of the Penal Code provides that the grand jury shall find an indictment when all the evidence before it, taken together, if unexplained or uncontradicted would, in its judgment, warrant a conviction by a trial jury. Section 995, [56 Cal.2d 462] subdivision 2, of the Penal Code provides that the court must set aside the indictment upon motion of the defendant when the accused '* * * has been indicted without reasonable or probable cause.' Probable cause is shown if an man of ordinary caution or prudence could entertain a strong suspicion of the guilt of the accused, and if some rational ground exists for an assumption of guilt, the indictment will not be set aside. Bompensiero v. Superior Court, 44 Cal.2d 178, 183, 281 P.2d 250.

We have concluded that the evidence presented to the grand jury on the question of conspiracy as charged in count I is sufficient to meet the standards required to uphold the indictment with the exception of the averment that petitioners conspired to violate Penal Code, § 207 for, as we shall later see, the testimony relative to a violation of the Penal Code section just cited is inadequate to bring petitioners' conduct within the purview of the law which denounces kidnapping. However, this does not invalidate...

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77 practice notes
  • People v. Morgan, No. S055130.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 15 Noviembre 2007
    ...738, 1 14 Cal.Rptr. 467, 523 P.2d 267, Stanworth, supra, 11 Cal.3d 588, 114 Cal.Rptr. 250, 522 P.2d 1058, Cotton v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241, and Stender, supra, 47 Cal.App.3d 413, 423, 121 Cal.Rptr....
  • People v. Dominguez, No. H022727.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 14 Diciembre 2004
    ...of four or five feet. (Id. at p. 412, 326 P.2d 457 (dis. opn. of Carter, J.).) Three years later, in Cotton v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241 (Cotton), the court "implicitly declined to extend the Chessman/Wein rule to [Penal Code] section 207 simple kidn......
  • People v. Martinez, No. S064345
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 8 Abril 1999
    ...11 Cal.3d 738, 114 Cal.Rptr. 467, 523 P.2d 267] (a movement within the confines of a single room), and [Cotton v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241] (a movement within various rooms of a house and an additional 15 feet outside), than those found in Stanworth......
  • People v. Hoard, No. E030278.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 7 Noviembre 2002
    ...follows, a fortiori, that those movements were `incidental to' the robberies ... within the meaning of Cotton [v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241 (Cotton) ]." (Daniels, supra, 71 Cal.2d at pp. 1130-1131, 80 Cal. Rptr. 897, 459 P.2d 225; maj. opn., ante, at......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
77 cases
  • People v. Morgan, No. S055130.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 15 Noviembre 2007
    ...738, 1 14 Cal.Rptr. 467, 523 P.2d 267, Stanworth, supra, 11 Cal.3d 588, 114 Cal.Rptr. 250, 522 P.2d 1058, Cotton v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241, and Stender, supra, 47 Cal.App.3d 413, 423, 121 Cal.Rptr....
  • People v. Dominguez, No. H022727.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 14 Diciembre 2004
    ...of four or five feet. (Id. at p. 412, 326 P.2d 457 (dis. opn. of Carter, J.).) Three years later, in Cotton v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241 (Cotton), the court "implicitly declined to extend the Chessman/Wein rule to [Penal Code] section 207 simple kidn......
  • People v. Martinez, No. S064345
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 8 Abril 1999
    ...11 Cal.3d 738, 114 Cal.Rptr. 467, 523 P.2d 267] (a movement within the confines of a single room), and [Cotton v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241] (a movement within various rooms of a house and an additional 15 feet outside), than those found in Stanworth......
  • People v. Hoard, No. E030278.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 7 Noviembre 2002
    ...follows, a fortiori, that those movements were `incidental to' the robberies ... within the meaning of Cotton [v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 459, 15 Cal.Rptr. 65, 364 P.2d 241 (Cotton) ]." (Daniels, supra, 71 Cal.2d at pp. 1130-1131, 80 Cal. Rptr. 897, 459 P.2d 225; maj. opn., ante, at......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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