People v. Rollins

Decision Date08 February 1967
Docket NumberCr. 9514
Citation423 P.2d 221,56 Cal.Rptr. 293,65 Cal.2d 681
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 423 P.2d 221 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. George Fulton ROLLINS, Defendant and Appellant.

Howard E. Beckler, Hollywood, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for defendant and appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., William E. James, Asst. Atty. Gen., and George J. Roth, Deputy Atty. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

TOBRINER, Justice.

The present appeal requires us to determine once again 1 which cases are to be governed in this state by the principles set forth in Escobedo v. State of Illinois (1964) 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977, and to decide for the first time 2 which cases, among those governed by Escobedo, should also be subject to the more detailed guidelines enunciated in Miranda v. State of Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694.

The trial in this case began on May 13, 1963. Defendant, George Fulton Rollins, and his codefendants, Willie Slater and John Palmer, were charged with two counts of armed robbery. All three defendants waived the right to a jury trial, and the trial court found each defendant guilty on both counts. The court further found that Slater and Palmer committed the robberies while armed with a deadly weapon but that Rollins was not personally armed. On June 7, 1963, the court entered the judgment which defendant Rollins challenges in this appeal, convicting him on two counts of first degree robbery. (Pen.Code, §§ 211, 211a.) On June 20, 1963, the court imposed concurrent sentences and committed Rollins to the California Youth Authority for the term prescribed by law.

On June 22, 1964, the United States Supreme Court decided Escobedo v. State of Illinois, supra, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758; on June 13, 1966, while this appeal was still pending, the United States Supreme Court filed its decision in Miranda v. State of Arizona, supra, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602. In this setting, we must first decide what law governs; we must then apply that law to the judgment here on review.

Under Johnson v. State of New Jersey (1966) 384 U.S. 719, 86 S.Ct. 1772, 16 L.Ed.2d 882, the states are not bound to apply either Escobedo or Miranda to trials commencing prior to the dates when those decisions were rendered. Under our ruling in In re Lopez (1965) 62 Cal.2d 368, 42 Cal.Rptr. 188, 398 P.2d 380, however, the principles established in Escobedo v. State of Illinois, supra, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, and People v. Dorado (1965) 62 Cal.2d 338, 42 Cal.Rptr. 169, 398 P.2d 361, are applicable to the instant case since the judgment of conviction was not final before June 22, 1964, the date of the Escobedo decision.

We have decided that we should follow Johnson insofar as that decision limited the operation of Miranda in this state to trials beginning after June 13, 1966. In accordance with this determination of the governing law, we have here applied Escobedo and Dorado but not Miranda; we have concluded that the conviction of the defendant Rollins cannot stand.

The two robberies here involved took place in service stations in Los Angeles. James Carter, an attendant at the U-Save-On service station, testified at the trial that at 12:50 on the morning of January 28, 1963, two men whom he identified as codefendants Slater and Palmer walked into the station and held him up at gunpoint. They took bills, change, a coin tray, and cigarettes, and then ran off.

Arthur Hammond, an attendant at the Jet 777 service station, testified that at 1:30 on the same morning Slater and Palmer came into the station and held him up at gunpoint. They took bills, change, cigarettes, a coin changer of the type used by a bus driver, and Hammond's wallet.

Officer Helvin of the Los Angeles Police Department testified that he and his partner, Officer Matlock, while on partrol early in the morning of January 28, observed the driver of a black Chevrolet look at their police car and then suddenly make a right turn. The officers followed the Chevrolet for several blocks at speeds up to 60 miles an hour. At one point during the chase the officers noticed an arm extending from the right window of the car. The Chevrolet ran through two stop signs; shortly thereafter the officers stopped the vehicle and asked the driver, defendant Rollins, to step out. Slater and Palmer were also in the car.

Officer Helvin handcuffed Rollins, placed him under arrest, and put him in the patrol car. Suspecting that the vehicle might have been stolen, the officer reached for the registration slip. While doing so, he noticed under the front seat a coin changer of the type used by bus drivers. At approximately this time Officer Helvin heard a report over his police radio about the holdup at the Jet 777 station and learned that a coin changer was among the items taken. He then questioned defendant regarding the coin changer found in the car and as to the robbery; defendant denied any knowledge of either. Defendant said that on his return from Compton, at a point near the Jet 777 station, he had picked up Slater and Palmer, whom he had not previously known.

The officers then retraced the route over which they had pursued defendant; at different points along the route they found Hammond's wallet, a .22 caliber revolver, and a .38 caliber revolver.

Sergeant Chiquet testified that, during the morning of January 29, he and three other officers questioned defendant at the police station. Defendant stated that Slater and Palmer had come to his house about 12:30 on the morning of January 28 and had asked that he drive them somewhere. He said that he had driven them to a point hear the Jet 777 station and that they had left him there with the car but had returned several minutes later. Defendant again denied knowledge of any robberies.

At the police station in the afternoon of January 29, Sergeant Chiquet and the three other officers again questioned defendant, this time together with Slater and Palmer. Sergeant Chiquet testified that, at some point during this tape-recorded interrogation, defendant Rollins admitted that he was acquainted with defendants Palmer and Slater and finally confessed, stating that he had driven the car in the service station robberies.

Defendant Rollins took the stand in his own behalf. He testified that he had seen Palmer in a bar shortly before midnight on January 27 and had lent Palmer his car keys. Palmer left the bar and later returned, whereupon defendant and Palmer departed together in defendant's car. At a point near the Jet 777 station Palmer asked defendant, who was driving, to stop the car; defendant did so and Palmer stepped out. When he returned a few minutes later, Slater accompanied him. Defendant then drove away. He saw a police car; when he realized that it was following him, he increased his speed. When the police turned on the siren, he stopped.

Defendant denied any knowledge of the robberies. He admitted that he had told the police that he drove the car involved in the robberies, but he testified that he had made this statement only because he had previously been physically abused by the police. Slater and Palmer also took the stand. Slater denied any participation in the robberies; Palmer admitted that he had participated, but testified that defendant was in no way involved.

Before we test the foregoing record for reversible error, we confront the threshold problem of determining the applicable law in cases tried before the date of the Escobedo decision but not yet final either on that date or on the date of the decision in Miranda. In holding Escobedo and Dorado unavailable on collateral attack to challenge convictions which had become final before the Escobedo decision (In re Lopez, supra, 62 Cal.2d 368, 42 Cal.Rptr. 188, 398 P.2d 380), we reasoned that the primary purpose of Escobedo and Dorado was to prevent police tactics which invited coerced confessions; that past violations of the rules established by those decisions did not affect the fairness of convictions already final so long as truly coerced confessions could be exposed at trial, on appeal, or on collateral attack; and that completely retroactive application of Escobedo and Dorado would impose an undue burden upon the administration of criminal justice. Accordingly, we concluded that Escobedo and Dorado should operate only 'prospectively and retroactively to cases on appeal (as of June 22, 1964) * * *.' (In re Lopez, supra, 62 Cal.2d 368, 378 fn. 16, 42 Cal.Rptr. 188, 196, 398 P.2d 380, 388.)

In Johnson v. State of New Jersey, supra, 384 U.S. 719, 726--734, 86 S.Ct. 1772, 16 L.Ed.2d 882, the United States Supreme Court analyzed the problem of the retroactivity of Escobedo and Miranda in terms similar to those of Lopez. Although our analysis led us to apply Escobedo and Dorado to all convictions which had not become final before June 22, 1964, 3 the United States Supreme Court decided to Require the application of Escobedo and Miranda only in trials which began after the respective dates of those decisions. The court was careful, however, to leave the states free to apply Escobedo and Miranda to a broader range of cases. The opinion said: 'We recognize that certain state courts have perceived the implications of Escobedo and have therefore anticipated our holding in Miranda. Of course, States are still entirely free to effectuate under their own law stricter standards than those we have laid down and to apply those standards in a broader range of cases than is required by this decision.' (Johnson v. State of New Jersey, supra, 384 U.S. 719, 733, 86 S.Ct. 1772, 1781.) While leaving the states free to apply Escobedo and Miranda more broadly, the United States Supreme Court found no 'persuasive reason to extend Escobedo and Miranda to cases tried before those decisions were announced, even though the cases may still be on direct appeal.' (Ibid.)

We share the conclusion of the ...

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