People v. Aadland

Decision Date06 July 1961
Docket NumberCr. 7438
Citation14 Cal.Rptr. 462,193 Cal.App.2d 584
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Florence AADLAND, Defendant and Appellant.

Burton Marks, Beverly Hills, for appellant.

Stanley Mosk, Atty. Gen., William E. James, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Jack K. Weber, Deputy Atty. Gen., for respondent.

LILLIE, Justice.

Defendant was accused by information, containing five counts, with the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Welf. & Inst.Code, Sec. 702). The minor was defendant's unmarried daughter, age 17 at the time of the events set forth in the accusatory pleading. 1 The information alleged that defendant permitted the minor to use and consume intoxicants (Count I), exposed herself in an intoxicated condition before the minor and did at such time drink intoxicants in the minor's presence (Count II), engaged in an act of sexual intercourse while the minor was present (Count III), premitted the minor to use a bed with a male person (Count IV), and permitted said minor to engage in sexual intercourse with a named male person (Count V), all of which acts tended to cause the minor to lead an immoral life. Count V was dismissed following a motion under section 995 of the Penal Code. Thereafter, each remaining count (except Count I) was amended to read that it was a different statement of the same offense set forth in Count I. Trial by jury having been waived, it was stipulated that the cause be submitted on the transcript at the preliminary hearing. No additional testimony was presented. The court found defendant guilty as charged, and she appeals from the judgment of conviction.

It is not now contended that the facts adduced by the prosecution, if legally corroborated, do not sufficiently support the judgment--no defense testimony was forthcoming at the preliminary hearing; however, in addition to the claim that she was convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of accomplices (Penal Code, Section 1111), defendant maintains that she was not legally committed for trial in the superior court and that she was denied due process of law in certain particulars hereinafter set forth.

Some of the salient facts must be recounted to dispose of the claim that the testimony of asserted accomplices was not corroborated in accordance with the statute (Penal Code, Sec. 1111). Ronnie Shedlo testified that on March 19, 1960, he went to the beach with the minor, Kenneth and Bill Stancieu, and a sailor named Quinlin. Later, they proceeded to defendant's apartment where they found the defendant in the company of Bob Profeta and Lee Dimon; all three were drinking wine and, according to Shedlo, the defendant was intoxicated. The minor went into the bathroom and changed into a shortie nightgown; she then rejoined the group, and everybody stood around talking and drinking wine for about three hours--from 7:00 p. m. to 10:00 p. m. During this latter period, the record reveals, defendant engaged in an act which is the subject of Count III of the information; as a prelude thereto, defendant permitted her private parts to be fondled by her male companion in the presence of the minor who became 'hysterical' and went into the bathroom. In addition to Shedlo's testimony, the events of the evening were testified to by Dimon, Profeta and Stancieu; all three were of the opinion that defendant was intoxicated; and each described the sexual act. Dimon further testified that he saw the defendant about 20 times that same month and 'most of the time * * * she was under the influence.' Profeta also described an incident one week prior to March 19 when the minor, wearing a bathrobe with 'absolutely nothing on underneath,' was permitted to occupy a bed with a male adult (Count IV).

Photographs were taken by male participants of certain of the events on the evening of March 19 and were received below as exhibits. On application of the attorney general, they have been transmitted to this court (Rule 10(b), Rules on Appeal), and the record has been augmented accordingly (Rule 12(a), Rules on Appeal). Some of these photographs admittedly were 'posed,' while others were not. The motives of the individual photographers were explored on cross-examination; innocent or otherwise, as will presently be pointed out, they are not the determining factor in the result we reach as to this phase of the appeal. Certain of the photographs depict a fracas between defendant and her daughter--one shows the minor, clad in her shortie nightgown, holding a bottle of wine--which climaxed the evening and resulted in the summoning of the police.

Upon the trial, it was stipulated that the police would testify in accord with the arrest report filed approximately four hours later. This report, which was incorporated into the record, discloses that the officers proceeded to the vicinity in question upon complaint of a neighbor who 'heard a woman screaming across the street'; upon being admitted to defendant's apartment, they observed that it was 'strewn with clothing, empty beer and wine bottles, cigarette butts and ashes * * *' After defendant and the persons then present (Profeta, Dimon, Shedlo and Quinlin) had identified themselves, the officers investigated the cause of the screaming and were told by Profeta that the defendant had 'started shouting and screaming' when she called for the minor and the minor did not answer. It further appears that when one of the officers was using the phone (as part of the investigation), defendant 'sat up in bed and yelled: 'Your (sic) all (obscenities), you policemen and everybody else in this damn place is just a bunch of free-loaders. I don't know why in the hell B. (the minor) let you jerks come around here. Your (sic) young punks. I taught her to go out with older rich men but she won't listen any more. She's just a young brat, I wish she would get the hell out, and take her God damn freeloading friends with her.' * * *' When the minor returned to the apartment, she said to her mother: 'You've been drinking and drunk for three weeks.' Defendant then said: 'You damn brat, get these (obscenities) out of her (sic). You're always causing trouble.' The minor replied: 'Me, causing trouble. How about that slapping me and pulling my hair tonight.' The officers then intervened. Later according to the police report, the minor said: '* * * 'she gets like this whenever there's any alcohol around. Ever since Errol died, she thinks she can run my damn life. I spent two years going all over the world on my own with Errol, and when he died she stepped in and tried to get everything she could.' * * *'

The governing statute provides that an accomplice is 'one who is liable to prosecution for the identical offense charged against the defendant on trial in the cause in which the testimony of the accomplice is given.' (Penal Code, Section 1111). 'If the undisputed evidence establishes that a witness is an accomplice, the jury should be so instructed, but if the facts as to complicity are in dispute, the question should be left to the jury.' People v. Santo, 43 Cal.2d 319, 326, 273 P.2d 249, 253. A rather strong argument for complicity is made in this case; however, ample corroboration of prosecution testimony is found in the photographs and police report. It is not suggested that the photographs do not accurately depict the scenes described by the various witnesses; as for the police report, the officers were obliged to referee an argument between defendant and the minor from which unfavorable inferences could reasonably be drawn with respect to defendant's drinking habits and her apparent approval of the minor's prior social activities with an undivorced older man. It has been repeatedly declared that the corroborating evidence is sufficient if it tends to connect the defendant with the commission of the offense in such a way as may reasonably satisfy the trier of fact that the witness who must be corroborated is telling the truth. People v. MacEwing, 45 Cal.2d 218, 224, 288 P.2d 257 and cases there cited. We have no doubt that this test was met in the case at bar; furthermore, defendant's failure 'to deny or explain evidence presented against him, when it is in his power to do so, may be considered by the jury as tending to indicate the truth of such evidence, and as indicating that among the inferences that may reasonably be drawn therefrom, those unfavorable to the defendant are the more probable.' People v. Adamson, 27 Cal.2d 478, 489, 165 P.2d 3, 9.

Next, it is contended that defendant 'was not legally committed in that the prerequisites of Section 726 of the Welfare and Institutions Code were not complied with.' The first paragraph of that section provides that upon the filing of a petition against a juvenile under Section 700 of the same code, a citation shall issue directing the parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of the minor concerned to appear at the time and place for which hearing of the petition has been set; as amended in 1949, it is therein further provided as follows: 'or a citation may issue to such parent, guardian or other person directing him to appear at such time and to show cause why a complaint should not be filed against him charging him with a violation of Section 702 of this code.' The instant record, defendant points out, is devoid of any service of the citation mentioned in the 1949 amendment; therefore, she argues, the prosecuting attorney was without jurisdiction to issue a complaint against her, and the juvenile court in turn was without jurisdiction to hear evidence on the complaint, and hence her commitment was illegal and void. Although defendant concedes that there is no authority in support of this contention, she nonetheless maintains that no authority has been found in derogation thereof.


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