People v. Murphy

Decision Date14 January 1969
Docket NumberCr. 12370
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 448 P.2d 945 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Michael MURPHY, Defendant and Appellant.

Jane Gurley, San Rafael, for defendant and appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Robert R. Granucci and Karl S. Mayer, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

MOSK, Justice.

Defendant appeals from an order finding him to be a person 'in imminent danger of becoming addicted to narcotics' and committing him to the custody of the Director of Corrections for placement in the narcotics addict rehabilitation program. (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 3051.)

We are once again called upon to resolve difficult questions concerning the manner and scope of review of narcotics addiction commitment proceedings. The statutory scheme (Welf. & Inst.Code, §§ 3000--3305) provides little guidance in this respect, and in a series of decisions we have therefore undertaken to delineate the appropriate remedies. (See, e.g., In re De La O (1963) 59 Cal.2d 128, 153--156, 28 Cal.Rptr. 489, 378 P.2d 793, 98 A.L.R.2d 705; People v. Victor (1965) 62 Cal.2d 280, 287--289, 42 Cal.Rptr. 199, 398 P.2d 391; People v. Bruce (1966) 64 Cal.2d 55, 59--62, 48 Cal.Rptr. 719, 409 P.2d 943; cf. People v. Gonzales (1968) 68 A.C. 481, 483--485, 67 Cal.Rptr. 551, 439 P.2d 655.) After further elucidation of various aspects of this problem in the case at bar, we turn to the cognizable claims raised by defendant and find them to be without merit. Accordingly, the order of commitment must be affirmed.

On November 30, 1966, defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession of marijuana, a felony. (Health & Saf.Code, § 11530.) His then counsel, Mr. Friedman, advised the court that he had reason to believe defendant was eligible for the narcotics addict rehabilitation program, and requested that the criminal proceedings be adjourned and proceedings for civil commitment be initiated under Welfare and Institutions Code section 3051. The court acceded to the request, and the following day the district attorney filed a petition for commitment. 1

After several continuances, the petition came on for hearing on January 3, 1967. Defendant's new counsel, Mr. Berg, was apparently determined to resist his client's commitment. He moved to withdraw the plea of guilty to the criminal charge, for an immediate jury trial on the issue of addiction, and to disqualify the judge by peremptory challenge. The motions were denied. After hearing expert and lay witnesses presented by the district attorney and cross-examined by defense counsel, the court on January 13, 1967, found defendant to be in imminent danger of addiction and ordered him committed to the rehabilitation program.

On the same day, January 13, defendant through his counsel filed a notice of appeal from the order of commitment. On January 20, however, defendant through his counsel also filed a demand for a trial de novo on the issue of addiction. 2


At the outset, we put aside two contentions of defendant which challenge his conviction of possession of marijuana and hence may not be litigated on this appeal.

Under the law as it stood when this case was tried, a person who had been convicted of a crime in a municipal or superior court and was then committed to the narcotics addict rehabilitation program (Welf. & Inst.Code, §§ 3050, 3051) had two alternative routes open to him for raising claims of error occurring in the Criminal trial. First, he could move for a new trial and, by special statutory provision, appeal directly from a denial of that motion. (Former Pen.Code, § 1237, subd. 2; see, e.g., People v. Meison (1968) 261 A.C.A. 351, 67 Cal.Rptr 750.) Secondly, upon termination of the commitment he could take his normal appeal from any criminal judgment then entered (former Pen.Code, § 1237, subd. 1), and any pending appeal from the denial of a motion for new trial would be dismissed. (Former Pen.Code, § 1237, subd. 2; see, e.g., People v. Bourland (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 76, 80, 55 Cal.Rptr. 357.)

But what he could not do--as defendant has here attempted--was to use his right to appeal from the order of Civil commitment as yet another vehicle to attack his criminal conviction. (People v. Cordova (1967) 253 Cal.App.2d 434, 61 Cal.Rptr. 327; People v. Le Gerrette (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 764, 54 Cal.Rptr. 304.) Both in form and in substance, the civil commitment proceedings are wholly distinct from the criminal prosecution. The commitment order is appealable only because it is deemed to be a final judgment in a 'special proceeding' (Code Civ.Proc., § 963, subd. 1; In re De La O (1963) supra, 59 Cal.2d 128, 156, 28 Cal.Rptr. 489, 378 P.2d 793, 98 A.L.R.2d 705), and the contours of that proceeding delimit the scope of its review: 'in such appeal he may base error only on the lack of jurisdiction of the trial court to institute commitment proceedings or the invalidity of the proceedings 3 culminating in the order itself.' (People v. Le Gerrette (1966) supra, 245 Cal.App.2d 764, 765, 54 Cal.Rptr. 304, 306.)

At the time here relevant, moreover, such an attempted review of the judgment of conviction would necessarily have been premature: until the defendant was returned to court and sentenced after his rejection or release from the rehabilitation program (Welf. & Inst.Code, §§ 3053, 3200), the criminal charge had not been prosecuted to a 'final judgment of conviction' within the meaning of the basic criminal appeal statute (former Pen.Code, § 1237, subd. 1). 4

Before leaving this point, however, we pause to explain the relevance of our recent decision in People v. Moore (1968) 69 A.C. 701, 72 Cal.Rptr. 800, 446 P.2d 800, to the rules on scope of review which we here reaffirm. We held in Moore that a person sought to be committed under this statutory scheme enjoys the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment and implemented by the exclusionary rule. It follows that a claim on appeal from an order of commitment that certain evidence was obtained by an illegal search and seizure cannot be dismissed if that evidence was introduced over timely objection at any stage of the commitment proceedings. On the other hand, if the evidence in question was introduced solely at the criminal trial, as in the case at bar, 5 the calim is not cognizable on such appeal.


The trial court correctly took no action on defendant's demand, made on January 20, 1967, for a jury trial de novo on the issue of addiction. One week earlier, on January 13, defendant had filed his notice of appeal from the order of commitment; the 'subject matter' of that appeal, on its face, was the entire order of the court. 6 It is code law that the taking of an appeal 'stays all further proceedings in the court below upon the judgment or order appealed from, or upon the matters embraced therein' (Code Civ.Proc. § 946). This rule governs in both civil (Sacks v. Superior Court etc. (1948) 31 Cal.2d 537, 540, 190 P.2d 602, and cases cited) and criminal causes (see Anderson v. Superior Court etc. (1967) 66 Cal.2d 863, 865, 59 Cal.Rptr. 426, 428 P.2d 290, and cases cited; we now consider whether it also applies to the special proceedings here in issue.

It is true that the right to demand a trial de novo on the issue of addiction is specifically declared by statute (see fn. 2, ante); but we do not believe the Legislature intended thereby to require or even permit a defendant to attack the sufficiency of the evidence in a retrial and Simultaneously to prosecute an appeal from the order of commitment. Among the practical difficulties of such a bifurcated remedy, at least one is immediately apparent: if the 'subject matter' of the defendant's appeal were limited by the issues he chose to present, the trial court would be compelled to wait for the several months ordinarily consumed in the preparation of appellate briefs before it could learn whether or not it had jurisdiction to proceed with the trial de novo. A delay of those proportions, however, is impermissible. (See fn. 7, post.)

Nor is there any need for such a radical departure from the normal sequence of judicial review. A person who has been committed may deem himself aggrieved, for example, in two respects: i.e., that there has not been 'strict compliance with each of the statutory prerequisites for maintenance of the proceeding' (In re Raner (1963) 59 Cal.2d 635, 639, 30 Cal.Rptr. 814, 816, 381 P.2d 638, 640; italics omitted), and that the evidence at the hearing was insufficient to support the finding of addiction. If he opts for the statutory alternative of relitigating the latter issue in a trial de novo, he cannot raise the issue against on an appeal from the outcome of that trial; on such appeal he can, of course, challenge the sufficiency of the evidence introduced at the trial de novo, but he will be deemed to have waived any further complaint he may have as to the sufficiency of the evidence at the original hearing. On the other hand, by so opting he cannot be deemed to have waived his claim of noncompliance with the statutory procedural requisites: he simply had no opportunity to litigate that claim in the trial de novo, and the exercise of his statutory right to such a trial cannot be made conditional on relinquishing his judicially declared right to challenge fundamental deficiencies in the commitment process. (See, e.g., In re Raner, supra; In re Trummer (1964) 60 Cal.2d 658, 36 Cal.Rptr. 281, 388 P.2d 177; In re Jones (1964) 61 Cal.2d 325, 38 Cal.Rptr. 509, 392 P.2d 269.) As we said in a related context, 'To hold otherwise would create a trap foreclosing an appeal on the merits.' (People v. Gonzales (1968) supra, 68 A.C. 481, 485, 67 Cal.Rptr. 551, 553, 439 P.2d 655, 657.)

The distinction is well illustrated by People v. Whelchel (1967) 255 Cal.App.2d 455, 63 Cal.Rptr. 258. There the defendants were committed as persons in imminent danger...

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