People v. Scoma, Cr. 12562

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtSULLIVAN; TRAYNOR; MOSK
Citation71 Cal.2d 332,78 Cal.Rptr. 491,455 P.2d 419
Parties, 455 P.2d 419 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Gwendolyn Lee SCOMA, Defendant and Respondent.
Docket NumberCr. 12562
Decision Date18 June 1969

Page 491

78 Cal.Rptr. 491
71 Cal.2d 332, 455 P.2d 419
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
Gwendolyn Lee SCOMA, Defendant and Respondent.
Cr. 12562.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
June 18, 1969.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 6, 1969.

Page 492

[455 P.2d 420] [71 Cal.2d 334] Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Robert R. Granucci and Gloria DeHart, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and appellant.

Sheldon Portman, Public Defender, and Fred S. Lucero, Deputy Public Defender, for defendant and respondent.

SULLIVAN, Justice.

Defendant Gwendolyn Lee Scoma was charged by information with possession of marijuana in violation of section 11530 of the Health and Safety Code. Following arraignment she moved that the information be set aside because she had been held to answer without reasonable and probable cause (Pen.Code, § 995) in that the only evidence against her was obtained through execution of a search warrant based upon an affidavit insufficient on its face. 1 The motion was granted, and the People appeal from the order setting aside the information. (Pen.Code, § 1238, subd. 1.)

The affidavit whose sufficiency is here in question stated that the affiant, a detective sergeant engaged in the investigation of illicit narcotics traffic, had been informed by a certain named juvenile that one 'Dewey' had furnished marijuana and restricted dangerous drugs to said juvenile within the immediately proceeding three weeks; that 'Dewey' was presently deal [455 P.2d 421] ing

Page 493

in narcotics at a certain address in the San Jose area; and that 'Dewey' had previously dealt in narcotics at other premises described by the juvenile. The affidavit also alleged that affiant had been informed by the juvenile that the latter had been reported to the county sheriff's office by his father when a shoebox containing marijuana and restricted dangerous drugs was found in his possession; that affiant 'was also told by the aforesaid (juvenile) that lists of telephone numbers and names contained in his wallet, which are in the possession of your affiant, contain the name of 'Dewey' among others, and contains a telephone number, 259--7962, which has been verified by your affiant to be a number listed to Mary Ann Wilkins' at the premises alleged to be 'Dewey's' present address; and that affiant 'also has in his possession notes from (the juvenile's) wallet which said (juvenile)[71 Cal.2d 335] has identified as being a price list for 'stuff,' which has been identified by said (juvenile) as marijuana and a price list for 'spoons' which has been identified to your affiant as being the prices for methamphetamine. (The juvenile) has told your affiant that said price list was furnished to him by 'Dewey. " Finally, the affidavit stated that the landlady at the premises alleged by the juvenile to be 'Dewey's' present address had told affiant that said premises were occupied by Mary Ann Wilkins and a man matching the physical description of 'Dewey' provided by the juvenile; it was also alleged that the landlady had found 'papers in the rubbish which tie Mary Ann Wilkins' to another address in San Jose which, according to the juvenile, had been 'Dewey's' previous address and the scene of past narcotics transactions.

On the basis of this affidavit a warrant was issued authorizing a search of the premises alleged to be 'Dewey's' present address. On March 17, 1967, police executed the warrant and observed marijuana protruding from the purse of defendant, who was in the apartment.

A defendant is held to answer without reasonable or probable cause within the meaning of section 995 of the Penal Code when the only substantial evidence supporting his commitment has been obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (See Badillo v. Superior Court (1956) 46 Cal.2d 269, 271, 294 P.2d 23; Rogers v. Superior Court (1955) 46 Cal.2d 3, 7, 291 P.2d 929; cf. Greenberg v. Superior Court (1942) 19 Cal.2d 319, 321, 121 P.2d 713) 2 The Fourth Amendment, whose proscriptions are applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment (Aguilar v. Texas (1964) 378 U.S. 108, 110, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723; Ker v. California (1963) 374 U.S. 23, 33, 83 S.Ct. 1623, 10 L.Ed.2d 726), provides insofar as is here relevant that '* * * no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized.' State constitutional and statutory provisions are to the same effect. (Cal.Const. art. I, § 19; Pen.Code, § 1525.) [71 Cal.2d 336] A search warrant is issued without probable cause, and therefore in violation of constitutional proscriptions, when the affidavit upon which it is based contains no competent evidence sufficient to support the finding of the magistrate. (People v. Stout (1967) 66 Cal.2d 184, 193, 57 Cal.Rptr. 152, 424 P.2d 704; see People v. Govea (1965) 235 Cal.App.2d 285, 297, 45 Cal.Rptr. 253.) The indicated questions of competency and sufficiency are questions of law. (People v. Stout, Supra, 66 Cal.2d 184, 193, 57 Cal.Rptr. 152, 424 P.2d 704; People v. Tillman

Page 494

[455 P.2d 422] (1965) 238 Cal.App.2d 134, 137, 47 Cal.Rptr. 614; People v. Govea, Supra, 235 Cal.App.2d 285, 297, 45 Cal.Rptr. 253.)

The basic criteria for determining the constitutional sufficiency of an affidavit supporting a search warrant were set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Aguilar v. Texas, Supra, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723: 'Although an affidavit may be based on hearsay information and need not reflect the direct personal observations of the affiant (citation), the magistrate must be informed of some of the underlying circumstances from which the informant concluded that the narcotics were where he claimed they were, and some of the underlying circumstances from which the officer concluded that the informant, whose identity need not be disclosed (citation), was 'credible' or his information 'reliable. " (Fn. omitted.) (378 U.S. at p. 114, 84 S.Ct. at p. 1514.) 3 In subsequent cases the high court, while observing that the examination of affidavits in light of these criteria should not proceed 'in a hypertechnical, rather than a common-sense, manner' (United States v. Ventresca (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 109, 85 S.Ct. 741, 746, 13 L.Ed.2d 684), has insisted that warrants should not be sustained when to do so would dilute 'important safeguards that assure that the judgment of a disinterested judicial officer will interpose itself between the police and the citizenry.' (Fn. omitted.) (Spinelli v. United [71 Cal.2d 337] States (1969) 393 U.S. 410, 419, 89 S.Ct. 584, 591, 21 L.Ed.2d 637.)

In the recent case of People v. Hamilton (1969) 71 A.C. 189, 77 Cal.Rptr. 785, 454 P.2d 681, we concluded that the affidavit there in question was struck by the first 'prong' 4 of the Aguilar test in that it failed to adequately reflect 'the underlying circumstances from which the informant concluded that the narcotics were where he claimed they were * * *.' (Aguilar v. Texas, Supra, 378 U.S. 108, 114, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 1514, 12 L.Ed.2d 723.) The affidavit now before us presents no such problem, for the hearsay statements by which the report of illegal activity is reflected therein are factual in nature and clearly indicate that the informant had personal knowledge of such illegal activity. It is the second 'prong' of the Aguilar test to which this affidavit is vulnerable.

It is clear that a warrant may not stand, even with the assistance of...

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73 practice notes
  • People v. Cooks, Cr. 15402
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1983
    ...77 Cal.Rptr. 785, 454 P.2d 681; People v. Benjamin (1969) 71 Cal.2d 296, 301, 78 Cal.Rptr. 510, 455 P.2d 438; People v. Scoma (1969) 71 Cal.2d 332, 336-338, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d 419; Skelton v. Superior Court (1969) 1 Cal.3d 144, 152, 81 Cal.Rptr. 613, 460 P.2d 485; Price v. Superior ......
  • People v. Buchanan, Cr. 4718
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 22, 1972
    ...49 Cal.Rptr. 579; see also Horack v. Superior Court, 3 Cal.3d 720, 726--727, 731, 91 Cal.Rptr. 569, 478 P.2d 1; cf. People v. Scoma, 71 Cal.2d 332, 338, fn. 7, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d 419 and accompanying text.) Mrs. Gilmore informed Detective Winkler that Diane and Wayne Ito had rented ......
  • Halpin v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 24, 1972
    ...rather than to compel them to depend upon their hasty and competitive judgment in the field. (See my dissents in People v. Scoma (1969) 71 Cal.2d 332, 340, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d 419; People v. Hamilton, supra, 71 Cal.2d at p. 183, 77 Cal.Rptr. 785, 454 P.2d 681; People v. Sesslin (1968......
  • People v. Duncan, Cr. 11224
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 1974
    ...89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637; Aguilar v. Texas (1964), 378 U.S. 108, 114--115, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723; and People v. Scoma (1969), 71 Cal.2d 332, 336, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d Defendant further relies upon the principle expressed in Remers v. Superior Court (1970), 2 Cal.3d 659, 87......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
73 cases
  • People v. Cooks, Cr. 15402
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1983
    ...77 Cal.Rptr. 785, 454 P.2d 681; People v. Benjamin (1969) 71 Cal.2d 296, 301, 78 Cal.Rptr. 510, 455 P.2d 438; People v. Scoma (1969) 71 Cal.2d 332, 336-338, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d 419; Skelton v. Superior Court (1969) 1 Cal.3d 144, 152, 81 Cal.Rptr. 613, 460 P.2d 485; Price v. Superior ......
  • People v. Buchanan, Cr. 4718
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 22, 1972
    ...49 Cal.Rptr. 579; see also Horack v. Superior Court, 3 Cal.3d 720, 726--727, 731, 91 Cal.Rptr. 569, 478 P.2d 1; cf. People v. Scoma, 71 Cal.2d 332, 338, fn. 7, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d 419 and accompanying text.) Mrs. Gilmore informed Detective Winkler that Diane and Wayne Ito had rented ......
  • Halpin v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 24, 1972
    ...rather than to compel them to depend upon their hasty and competitive judgment in the field. (See my dissents in People v. Scoma (1969) 71 Cal.2d 332, 340, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d 419; People v. Hamilton, supra, 71 Cal.2d at p. 183, 77 Cal.Rptr. 785, 454 P.2d 681; People v. Sesslin (1968......
  • People v. Duncan, Cr. 11224
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 1974
    ...89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637; Aguilar v. Texas (1964), 378 U.S. 108, 114--115, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723; and People v. Scoma (1969), 71 Cal.2d 332, 336, 78 Cal.Rptr. 491, 455 P.2d Defendant further relies upon the principle expressed in Remers v. Superior Court (1970), 2 Cal.3d 659, 87......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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