People v. Martin, Cr. 5767

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtTRAYNOR; GIBSON, C. J., and SHENK, CARTER, SCHAUER and SPENCE, JJ., and McCOMB
Citation45 Cal.2d 755,290 P.2d 855
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. James MARTIN, Defendant and Respondent.
Docket NumberCr. 5767
Decision Date09 December 1955

Page 855

290 P.2d 855
45 Cal.2d 755
The PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Appellant,
James MARTIN, Defendant and Respondent.
Cr. 5767.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
Dec. 9, 1955.

[45 Cal.2d 757] Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., William E. James, Deputy Atty. Gen., S. Ernest Roll, Dist. Atty., Jere J. Sullivan and Lewis Watnick, Deputy Dist. Attys., Los Angeles, for appellant.

John J. Bradley and Max Solomon, Los Angeles, for respondent.

A. L. Wirin and Fred Okrand, Los Angeles, as amici curiae on behalf of respondent.

TRAYNOR, Justice.

By information defendant was charged with two counts of horse-race bookmaking, Penal Code § 337a(1) and two counts of keeping and occupying premises for the purposes of such bookmaing. Penal Code § 337a(2). The trial court granted defendant's motion to set the information aside (see Penal Code § 995) on the [45 Cal.2d 758] ground that all of the evidence against him had been obtained by illegal searches and seizures in violation of his constitutional rights. The People appeal.

Two of the counts were based on defendant's activities that were discovered by the arresting officers on April 20, 1955, at an office on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. About 11:30 in the morning three police officers went to the premises, a small one-story office building. One testified that on arriving, 'I went to the front door of the office at this address and I looked through the door through a mail chute into

Page 856

the door into the small office. At first I didn't see anything. The room appeared to be empty. I knocked on the door and nobody answered. Nobody came to the door or answered; so I looked through again and I could see the defendant inside the room. He was on the telephone standing off to the left from the door using the telephone, at which time I knocked again and identified myself, and the defendant came and opened the door and let the three of us in.' Inside the room the officers found two small tables, two telephones, two blackboards, a box of chalk, a wet rag, and a scratch sheet for the day. Part of one of the blackboards was wet as if it had just been wiped. There were also two two-by-twelve planks on the floor near the door. The officers stayed in the room for approximately an hour and answered the telephones, which rang frequently. Telephone callers, who identified themselves by numbers, called in bets on various races during this period. As an expert on the practice of bookmakers in Los Angeles County, one of the officers testified that in his opinion the room was a relay spot, a place where either betters or the handbooks that take bets from betters telephone their bets. At a relay spot the bets are either recorded temporarily until they can be telephoned on to a 'phone spot or office' or are passed on directly to the phone spot by mechanically relaying the telephone calls.

The other two counts were based on defendant's activities that were discovered by the arresting officers six days later at another small office building on Ventura Boulevard. The same three officers went to the premises about 11:30 in the morning. While they were looking the place over, a woman came from a house in the rear, questioned them, and they identified themselves. After talking to her the officers looked through the rear window of the building. One of them testified: 'In the inside I could see two two-by-twelve planks barricading the door. I could see a blackboard laying on the floor, a box of chalk on it, a wet rag or a rag. I opened [45 Cal.2d 759] the window. I smelled cigarette smoke in the room. I could see what turned out to be the defendant moving around inside the room. I identified myself, called for the defendant to open the door, which he didn't do, so I entered through the window. * * * In the front room I found the defendant, two telephones on a card table, a pile of warm ashes in the corner.' While the officers were present the phones rang frequently, and although many of the callers hung up when the officers answered, one attempted to place bets. It was the officer's opinion that this room was also a relay spot.

At the time of the first arrest defendant told the officers that a man had offered him $2 to go in and watch the place in case any salesmen came around, and at the time of the second arrest defendant told the officers that a man on Ventura Boulevard had offered him a day's wages to sit in the place. The officers did not have a search warrant on either occasion.

The Attorney General contends that since defendant disclamed any interest in the premises searched and the property seized, his constitutional rights could not have been violated and that therefore he has no standing to challenge the legality of the searches and seizures. (See, Casey v. United States, 9 Cir., 191 F.2d 1, 3; Mello v. United States, 3 Cir., 66 F.2d 135, 136; Connolly v. Medalie, 2 Cir., 58 F.2d 629, 630.) We cannot agree with this contention.

It is true that in Goldstein v. United States, 316 U.S. 114, 62 S.Ct. 1000, 86 L.Ed. 1312, the United States Supreme Court recognized that the rule is well established in the lower federal courts that only those whose constitutional rights have been violated may object to the introduction of illegally obtained evidence against them. In the light of that rule it held...

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