People v. Chapman, Cr. 4665

Citation67 Cal.Rptr. 601,261 Cal.App.2d 149
Decision Date15 April 1968
Docket NumberCr. 4665
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Ruth Elizabeth CHAPMAN, Defendant and Appellant.

Richard E. Johnson, Court Appointed Counsel, Stockton, for defendant-appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., by Doris H. Maier, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Michael H. Fabian, Deputy Atty. Gen., Sacramento, for plaintiff-respondent.

FRIEDMAN, Associate Justice.

Ruth Elizabeth Chapman appeals from a judgment imposing concurrent life sentences, after a jury found her guilty of the first degree murder and first degree robbery of Billy Dean Adcock. Mrs. Chapman and a codefendant, Thomas Teale, had been tried together in San Joaquin County in April 1963 and found guilty of Adcock's murder, robbery and kidnaping. Their convictions were affirmed by the California Supreme Court in July 1965 and set aside by the federal Supreme Court for trial error in February 1967. (People v. Teale, 63 Cal.2d 178, 45 Cal.Rptr. 729, 404 P.2d 209; Chapman v. State of California, 386 U.S. 18, 87 S.Ct. 824, 17 L.Ed.2d 705.) After the remand to the California courts, separate trials were ordered and the kidnaping charge dropped. In response to Mrs. Chapman's motion, a change of venue to Sacramento County was ordered and her second trial occurred in the latter county.

Right to Speedy Trial

Shortly before her second trial in 1967 defendant moved to dismiss the proceeding on the ground that delays in her first trial in 1963 had deprived her of her constitutional right to a speedy trial. She renews the claim here.

Federal and state constitutional guaranties of a speedy trial in criminal cases are implemented by Penal Code, section 1382, which makes dismissal mandatory when a felony defendant is not brought to trial within 60 days after the information or indictment is filed, except where the defendant has consented or good cause for delay is shown. Mrs. Chapman had been found and arrested in Missouri on October 26, 1962, and brought to California. On November 13, 1962, the public defender of San Joaquin County was appointed to represent her and Teale. The two defendants were jointly indicted on November 16, 1962. They were not brought to trial, however, until April 16, 1963, approximately three months after expiration of the 60-day period following their indictment.

A condensed history of the proceedings antedating the April 16 trial appears in People v. Teale, supra, 63 Cal.2d at [261 Cal.App.2d 158] page 186, 45 Cal.Rptr. at page 733, 404 P.2d at page 213. 1 In essence, it demonstrates that part of the delay was caused by the emergence of conflicting interests between the two defendants, requiring withdrawal of the public defender as attorney for both defendants and the appointment of separate counsel for each; that postponement of the trial from March 19 to April 16, 1963, was permitted in order to provide Teale's new attorney time for trial preparation. Counsel for Mrs. Chapman vigorously resisted the postponement, made motions to dismiss and, alternatively, moved for severance of the Teale and Chapman trials. The prosecution, however, urged a joint trial and the court sustained the prosecution's position. Thus the month-long postponement to protect Teale's interests worked a parallel delay in the trial of Mrs. Chapman. On her first appeal the Supreme Court rejected the claim of unconstitutional trial delay, declaring (63 Cal.2d at p. 186, 45 Cal.Rptr. at p. 214, 404 P.2d at p. 734): 'Where a continuance is granted upon good cause to a codefendant the rights of the other defendants are generally not deemed to have been prejudiced. (Citations.) Moreover, assuming without concluding that there was an improper denial of a speedy trial, the error must be prejudicial to merit a reversal therefor. (Citation.) Although Mrs. Chapman asserts that the delay caused her an emotional upset which persuaded her not to testify in her own behalf she still fails to show how her testimony would have aided her cause.'

Defendant points out that the California Supreme Court's notion of 'good cause' for trial delay was formulated by standards prevailing in 1963 when the trial court acted. She asserts that two later decisions demand reappraisal of that notion. The first is People v. Clark (1965) 62 Cal.2d 870, 882--886, 44 Cal.Rptr. 784, 402 P.2d 856, in which the Supreme Court directed dismissal of murder charges against two of three jointly tried defendants, the ground being unconstitutional delay of their trial. The Clark case is not in point. There the prosecution successfully argued against the severance of a proposed joint trial and sought trial continuances without divulging evidence which would have militated toward trial severance. Since the prosecution induced the trial court to act without full knowledge of the facts, the Supreme Court concluded that good cause for delays beyond the 60-day period was nonexistent. (62 Cal.2d at pp. 884--885, 44 Cal.Rptr. 784, 402 P.2d 856.) Here, in contrast, the trial was not postponed at the prosecution's behest but to protect the interests of a codefendant, who requested additional time for trial preparation. Although Mrs. Chapman's motions for severance were opposed by the prosecution, there is no claim of bad faith or nondisclosure of evidence. 2 Thus the lack of good cause which appeared in Clark did not characterize the present proceeding.

The second decision invoked by defendant is People v. Aranda (1965) 63 Cal.2d 518, 528--531, 47 Cal.Rptr. 353, 407 P.2d 265. Generally speaking, Aranda calls for the severance of trials where evidence of an extrajudicial statement by one defendant will implicate a jointly charged defendant. The Aranda rule represents a palpable change in California standards for the consolidation and severance of criminal trials, since prior case law had proceeded on the assumption that juries could be effectively admonished to disregard evidence admitted against less than all of a group of jointly tried defendants. (See People v. Chambers (1964) 231 Cal.App.2d 23, 32--33, 41 Cal.Rptr. 551.) The new rule is retroactively available to a defendant who had been tried prior to the date of the Aranda decision, November 12, 1965, where (as is true of Mrs. Chapman) the conviction was pending on appeal on that date. (People v. Charles (1967) 66 Cal.2d 330, 332, 57 Cal.Rptr. 745, 425 P.2d 545.)

Here the prosecution had evidence of an extrajudicial statement made by Teale to a fellow jail inmate, a statement which implicated Mrs. Chapman in Adcock's death. Assumedly, had the Aranda rule existed in the spring of 1963, it would have impelled trial severance, thus preventing Teale's needs from delaying Mrs. Chapman's trial. The claim that the 1965 Aranda decision retroactively extracts the vitalizing element of good cause from the 1963 postponement of Mrs. Chapman's trial is as inacceptable as it is novel. Reformulations of decisional law may be prospective or entirely or partially retroactive. (See examples collected in People v. Feggans (1967) 67 A.C. 447, 452, 62 Cal.Rptr. 419, 432 P.2d 21, separate opinion of Peters, J.) A retroactive decisional rule may alter the legality of a pre-existent event, but it cannot alter preexistent facts. The exercise of trial court discretion over trial consolidation and severance must be based 'upon a just and proper consideration of the particular circumstances which are presented to the court in each case;' when reviewed by the appellate courts, it will be measured by the facts existing at the time of the motion and not those occurring afterward. (People v. Eudy (1938) 12 Cal.2d 41, 46, 82 P.2d 359, 361, quoted and paraphrased in People v. Clark, supra, 62 Cal.2d at p. 883, 44 Cal.Rptr. 784, 402 P.2d 856.) Thus the hindsight of Aranda is not available to degrade the circumstances which the trial court accepted as good cause for postponing Mrs. Chapman's first trial and which impelled the Supreme Court, on her first appeal, to reject the claim of denial of speedy trial. Since the later change of legal doctrine is inapplicable to those circumstances, that rejection is the law of the case and may not be reargued. (People v. Modesto (1967) 66 Cal.2d 695, 705, 59 Cal.Rptr. 124, 427 P.2d 788; People v. Terry (1964) 61 Cal.2d 137, 151, 37 Cal.Rptr. 605, 390 P.2d 381.)

Sufficiency of the Evidence

Although the trial court's instructions to the jury included a definition of premeditated murder, the prosecution's prime theory was felony-murder, that is, first degree murder committed in the perpetration of robbery. The jury found Mrs. Chapman guilty of robbery as well as first degree murder. Defendant claims lack of substantial evidence of her participation in robbing and shooting Adcock and of her specific intent to participate in the robbery.

To establish a felony-murder the prosecution must prove that the defendant had a specific intent to commit the felony, in this case the robbery of Adcock. (People v. Anderson (1965) 63 Cal.2d 351, 358, 46 Cal.Rptr. 763, 406 P.2d 43.) A principle of California law, known as the Wells-Gorshen or diminished capacity rule, has it that an impairment of volitional powers by a mental defect short of insanity may negate the existence of specific intent to commit a particular crime. (People v. Anderson, supra, 63 Cal.2d at pp. 364--365, 46 Cal.Rptr. 763, 406 P.2d 43; People v. Gorshen (1959) 51 Cal.2d 716, 727--728, 731--734, 336 P.2d 492; People v. Wells (1949) 33 Cal.2d 330, 346--347, 202 P.2d 53.) Evidence of intoxication is relevant to prove lack of capacity to form specific intent. (See cases cited People v. Anderson, supra, 63 Cal.2d at pp. 365--366, 46 Cal.Rptr. 763, 406 P.2d 43.)

Called upon to review sufficiency of the evidence, appellate courts recognize that a defendant's guilty participation in a crime may be established by...

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