People v. Cockrell

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation63 Cal.2d 659,47 Cal.Rptr. 788,408 P.2d 116
Decision Date09 December 1965
Docket NumberCr. 9015
Parties, 408 P.2d 116 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Ivy Dell COCKRELL et al., Defendants and Appellants.

Gerald D. Lenoir, Los Angeles, for defendants and appellants.

Stanley Mosk and Thomas C. Lynch, Attys. Gen., William E. James, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Rose-Marie Gruenwald, Deputy Atty. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

BURKE, Justice.

Ivy and Leroy Cockrell, husband and wife, waived a jury trial and were found guilty by the court of sale of marijuana on January 29, 1963, possession of marijuana for sale on February 18, 1963, and conspiracy to sell marijuana. In addition Ivy but not Leroy was found guilty of sale of marijuana on February 18, 1963. Other condefendants were convicted of various offenses, but the Cockrells alone appeal from the judgments.

They contend that evidence was obtained by an unlawful search of their home and car, that the evidence is insufficient to support their conviction of conspiring to sell marijuana, that statements by Mrs. Cockrell were inadmissible under Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977, and that it was error to admit evidence of an accusatory statement and Mr. Cockrell's response thereto. We have concluded that none of these matters warrant a reversal of the judgments.

Thomas Greene, an undercover narcotics agent, was introduced to codefendants Leslie Foreman and Willie Goodjohn by an informant, and Greene, told them that he was interested in buying narcotics. Several days later Greene saw Foreman and another codefendant, Bernice Phillips, and Greene asked Foreman, 'What about this deal?' Foreman replied, 'It is a $140 for a brick (a term used in narcotics terminology to refer to 2.2 pounds).' Greene said that he did not have $140 and wanted to buy a pound. Miss Phillips said that 'he wouldn't go for a pound,' that she had made the deal for $140 for a brick, and that 'he might get hinky' if she changed. After further discussion it was agreed that Greene would pay $100 and Miss Phillips would add to this amount so that a brick could be purchased. Greene handed $100 to Miss Phillips, who then left. About an hour later Greene saw her between the porch of the Cockrells' home and the public sidewalk, and she appeared to be carrying something. He followed her when she left in a car and after driving a few blocks signaled to her to stop. They agreed to meet at her home, and upon arriving there Miss Phillips showed him a brick of marijuana. He took a share of it and left.

On February 18, 1963, Greene told Miss Phillips that he was 'looking,' and she said that she thought she could help him. He handed her $140, the serial numbers of which had previously been recorded. They drove to the neighborhood where the Cockrells lived, and Miss Phillips went up to the Cockrells' home and was admitted by a woman. Several minutes later Miss Phillips returned to the car and showed Greene a package of marijuana. He gave a prearranged signal to Officer Burley, who with other officers had the Cockrells' home under surveillance, to indicate that he had been successful in buying narcotics. Greene and Miss Phillips then drove away but after they had gone a short distance they were stopped by Burley, and Miss Phillips was placed under arrest. Burley observed in Greene's car a package he believed to contain marijuana. He asked Miss Phillips where she obtained the package, and she replied, 'You probably know where I got it. You probably have been watching me for some time. I got it from the woman at that house * * *.' 1

A few minutes after Miss Phillips' arrest Burley and Officers Bridges and Allender went to the front door of the Cockrells' home. It was then about 8 p. m. and dark outside. One of the officers knocked on the door, stated that they were sheriff's officers, and requested admittance. There was no answer, but they could hear someone moving. After waiting about a minute Bridges and Allender forced the front door open and entered, Burley entered by a back door, and at least one more officer also entered about the same time. They found Mrs. Cockrell alone inside the house. After showing her their identification they asked if she had any money in the house, and she replied that two or three dollars was all she had. They inquired if she had any marijuana, and she said that she did not. They then asked if they could 'look around to determine if she had any,' and she said, 'Well, go ahead. I have nothing to hide.' In the living room the officers removed a purse from a chest and on looking inside the purse found about $1,000. They checked the serial numbers on some of the bills and ascertained that they matched those on the list of numbers that had been recorded. Mrs. Cockrell was then placed under arrest for violating the state narcotic laws. Additional officers entered the house following Mrs. Cockrell's arrest, and about eight or nine officers searched the premises during a period of at least 45 minutes after the initial entry into the home. During the search the officers found marijuana in a hamper on the back porch and marijuana seed on a chest in a hallway. They discovered in a bureau drawer in the living room nine packages of cigarette papers of a type used extensively in the narcotic trade. In the backyard in trash cans they found 15 packages of marijuana, each weighing about one and three-fourths pounds, and, according to an officer, this amount of marijuana would make about 30,000 cigarettes and ten such cigarettes are the maximum number that one who uses them frequently can generally smoke in a 24-hour period.

Following the search at the Cockrells' home Burley and other officers arrested Mr. Cockrell in the county courthouse. They then went with him to his car, which was parked in a lot nearby. He denied having any contraband in the car and when asked by the officers if they could look he replied, 'Yes.' Inside the car underneath the back seat the officers found marijuana seeds.

Mr. Cockrell, testifying in his own behalf, denied selling marijuana to anyone on January 29, 1963, and in general denied knowledge of the marijuana found at his home and in his car. He further testified to the following effect: He and his wife lived alone in their home. The trash cans in which marijuana was found were also used by a tenant, who lived on the rear of their property. Mr. Cockrell had seat covers put on his car in January 1963 and from the time this work was done until the officers removed the back seat of his car so far as he knew the seat had not been moved. He had known Miss Phillips about six years but had not seen her for over two years before his arrest.

Defendants contend that the court erred in admitting, over objection, the evidence found in the search of their house and yard. It does not appear that the law enforcement officers had a search warrant, and in the absence of such a showing we must conclude that they did not. (People v. Burke, 61 Cal.2d 575, 578, 39 Cal.Rptr. 531, 394 P.2d 67.) 2 Defendants assert that the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Cockrell's apparent consent to the search compel the conclusion that her consent was not voluntarily given but was in submission to the express or implied assertion of authority by the officers. (Castaneda v. Superior Court, 59 Cal.2d 439, 442, 30 Cal.Rptr. 1, 380 P.2d 641.) Even if it be assumed that defendants' assertion is correct, the search was nevertheless lawful if it was incident to a valid arrest.

It does not appear that the officers had a warrant for Mrs. Cockrell's arrest, but a peace officer may arrest a person without a warrant whenever he has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a felony. (Pen.Code, § 836). Reasonable or probable cause is shown if a man of ordinary care and prudence would be led to believe and conscientiously entertain an honest and strong suspicion that the accused is guilty. (People v. Torres, 56 Cal.2d 864, 866, 17 Cal.Rptr. 495, 366 P.2d 823; People v. Fischer, 49 Cal.2d 442, 446, 317 P.2d 967.) Here before entering the Cockrells' house Officer Burley observed Miss Phillips return from that house to Greene's car, received the signal from Greene, saw the package containing what Burley believed to be marijuana, and was told by Miss Phillips that she obtained the package from 'the woman in that house.' It thus appears that the officers had probable cause for Mrs. Cockrell's arrest.

The next question is whether the lawfulness of the arrest, though based upon probable cause, was vitiated by the method of entry. Penal Code section 844 provides, 'To make an arrest, * * * a peaceofficer, may break open the door * * * of the house in which the person to be arrested is, * * * after having demanded admittance and explained the purpose for which admittance is desired.' Although it does not appear that the officers 'explained the purpose for which admittance' was 'desired,' they substantially complied with section 844 by knocking, requesting admittance, and identifying themselves as sheriff's officers. (People v. Carswell, 51 Cal.2d 602, 607, 335 P.2d 99; People v. Martin, 45 Cal.2d 755, 762-763, 290 P.2d 855; People v. Miller, 193 Cal.App.2d 838, 841, 14 Cal.Rptr. 704.) Since it appeared that a sale of marijuana had been made in the Cockrells' home only minutes before the officers requested admittance, 'the purpose for which admittance' was 'desired' was reasonably apparent.

The arrest of Mrs. Cockrell was lawful, and it is necessary to consider whether the search was incident thereto. It appears that part of the search was conducted before she was placed under arrest. Cases in this state have held that if before making a search and seizure officers are justified in making an arrest it is immaterial that the search and seizure preceded rather than followed the arrest. (E. g., People v....

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