People v. Superior Court (Arthur R.

Decision Date10 March 1988
Docket NumberNo. B030071,B030071
Citation244 Cal.Rptr. 841,199 Cal.App.3d 494
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent, ARTHUR R., a Minor, Real Party in Interest.

Ira Reiner, Dist. Atty., Donald J. Kaplan and Daniel L. Bershin, Deputy Dist. Attys., for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

Wilbur F. Littlefield, Public Defender, Alan Simon, Theodore Fasteau, and Sue Robin Pollock, Deputy Public Defenders, for real party in interest.

WOODS, Presiding Justice.

By petition for writ of mandate, the People seek review of a juvenile court order terminating dispositional jurisdiction over a minor.

The material facts are simple and not disputed.

The challenged July 1987 order terminated the juvenile court's dispositional jurisdiction over the ward under a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 1 petition (possession of cocaine) sustained in 1986. Termination was granted on the minor's motion after the People had filed a new section 602 petition in February 1987, alleging a 1987 forcible rape and obtained a section 707, subdivision (b) determination of "unfitness" 2 thereon. Thereafter, for undisclosed reasons, the People declined to prosecute the minor as an adult. The minor was between 16 and 18 years of age when he committed the offenses alleged in the petitions.

The petition presents two principle issues. First, a procedural question of first impression, whether the People may seek extraordinary writ review of a post-judgment juvenile court order terminating jurisdiction over a section 602 ward. Second, the substantive question whether the juvenile court abused its discretion in the circumstances described.

Because we determine that the People have no entitlement to review either by appeal or extraordinary writ, we will not reach the substantive issue presented.

I

Entitlement of the People to Review by Extraordinary Writ

The minor contends in his return to the alternative writ that the People are not entitled to review of the post-judgment order by extraordinary writ. To resolve this procedural issue, we must first determine whether a statutory right of appeal exists. If it does, then a derivative entitlement to seek writ review would exist. If there is no statutory right of appeal, then we must determine whether the People are nevertheless entitled to petition for an extraordinary writ under independent case law authority.

A. Right to Appeal

The People's right to appeal in criminal actions and juvenile court proceedings is conferred exclusively by statute. (People v. Smith (1983) 33 Cal.3d 596, 600, 189 Cal.Rptr. 862, 659 P.2d 1152; In re Richard C. (1979) 89 Cal.App.3d 477, 482, 152 Cal.Rptr. 787.) Entitlement to appeal from judgments and post-judgment orders in juvenile court proceedings initiated under section 602 is governed exclusively by section 800.

As will be demonstrated, the provisions of section 800, viewed in light of its legislative history, do not authorize appeals by the People from section 602 judgments or orders entered after such judgments.

Since amended effective 1980, section 800 has provided, in pertinent part: "A judgment in a proceeding under Section 601 or 602 ... may be appealed from in the same manner as any final judgment, and any subsequent order may be appealed from as from an order after judgment ...

"A ruling on a motion to suppress pursuant to Section 700.1 shall be reviewed on appeal even if the judgment is predicated upon an admission of the allegations of the petition or even if the judgment is a dismissal of the petition or any count or counts thereof; however, no appeal by the people shall lie as to any count which, if the people are successful, will be the basis for further proceedings subjecting any person to double jeopardy in violation of the State or Federal Constitution."

The minor herein contends that the absence in section 800 of an express reference to the People as a party entitled to appeal from section 602 judgments, together with pertinent legislative history, demonstrates that the statute must be construed as not giving the People a right of appeal. This construction is consistent with the general fundamental principle that the prosecution may not appeal from judgments of acquittal. (United States v. Wilson (1975) 420 U.S. 332, 352-353, 95 S.Ct. 1013, 1026-27, 43 L.Ed.2d 232.) 3 The People contend that the broad language of section 800 with regard to appealable judgments, particularly when compared to the language of the statute prior to its 1980 amendment, requires the construction that the 1980 amendment was intended to permit People's appeals from all section 602 judgments (implicitly including dismissals of section 602 petitions for failure of the People to prove that the minor committed the alleged offense) and from all post-judgment orders.

Accordingly, it is necessary for this court to apply rules of statutory construction to resolve a discrepancy between the language of the statute and the intent manifested by its legislative history. (Silver v. Brown (1966) 63 Cal.2d 841, 845-846, 48 Cal.Rptr. 609, 409 P.2d 689.) 4

The primary rule of statutory construction is that the courts should attempt to ascertain the intent of the Legislature and construe a statute so as to effectuate its purpose. All other rules of construction are subordinate to this primary principle. (Tripp v. Swoap (1976) 17 Cal.3d 671, 679, 131 Cal.Rptr. 789, 552 P.2d 749; Estate of Banerjee (1978) 21 Cal.3d 527, 539, 147 Cal.Rptr. 157, 580 P.2d 657.)

Legislative committee reports and other legislative records are appropriate sources from which legislative intent may be ascertained. ( Silver v. Brown, supra, 63 Cal.2d at p. 846, 48 Cal.Rptr. 609, 409 P.2d 689; Beltone Electronics Corp. v. Superior Court (1978) 87 Cal.App.3d 452, 455-457, 151 Cal.Rptr. 109.)

Prior to its amendment in 1980, section 800 provided that "A judgment or decree of the juvenile court or final order of a referee which becomes effective without approval of a judge of the juvenile court assuming jurisdiction and declaring any person to be a person described in Section 601 or 602 ... may be appealed from in the same manner as any final judgment, and any subsequent order may be appealed from as from an order after judgment...." (Emphasis added.)

In this form, section 800 was construed by cases as conferring to minors the exclusive right to appeal from judgments in section 601 and 602 proceedings because the language limited appeals to judgments sustaining petitions. 5 ( In re Richard C., supra, 89 Cal.App.3d 477, 482-483, 152 Cal.Rptr. 787; People v. Superior Court (John D.) (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 380, 385-386, 157 Cal.Rptr. 157.) California Rules of Court, rule 1396, similarly construes former section 800 to have provided that the minor may appeal from any section 602 judgment and the parents may appeal from any such judgment that removes the minor from their home. Rule 1396 makes no reference to any right of appeal by the People.

The 1980 amendment deleted the language from the first paragraph of section 800 that expressly limited appeals to judgments sustaining section 601 and 602 petitions. It added a new second paragraph that confers to the People a previously non-existent right to appeal from pre-judgment orders suppressing evidence. Such appeals were expressly made subject to double jeopardy protection. 6

With the facial changes effected by the 1980 amendment in mind, we look to pertinent records of the 1979 legislative session to discern the intent of the changes.

Senate Committee Reports and staff bill reports prepared during the 1979 regular legislative session reveal the summaries and analysis given to the legislators informing them of the existing case law construction of section 800 and of the respects in which Senate Bill No. 379 proposed to amend the effect of section 800. These reports and bill summaries unequivocally manifest the legislative intent not to amend section 800 so as to permit People's appeals from section 602 judgments or post-judgment orders.

Senate Conference Committee Report No. 015100 (Sen. Bill No. 379 (Presley) as amended Aug. 29, 1979, and adopted by the Assembly Sept. 4, 1979) states: "Under current juvenile court law, a minor has the exclusive right to appeal. Case law holds that the prosecutor has no right to appeal but does have the right to seek appellate review through filing an extraordinary writ in any case in which the judge has misapplied the law. This latter provision is subject to the double jeopardy protection of the minor." (Emphasis in original.) With regard to appellate review, the report summarizes the "effect of Senate Bill 379, as passed by the Senate," exclusively as giving the "district attorney" the right to appeal from "decisions which permit suppression of evidence." 7 (Emphasis added.)

Nothing in Report No. 015100 suggests any intent or any contemplation that Senate Bill No. 379 would alter existing law denying the People a right to appeal from section 602 judgments or post-judgment orders. The report unequivocally reflects that the sole contemplated effect of the amendment concerning People's appeal rights was to create a right to appeal from pre-adjudication orders granting suppression motions. (See In re Joseph B. (1983) 34 Cal.3d 952, 957, 196 Cal.Rptr. 348, 671 P.2d 852.) Reasonable minds would expect that such a proposed radical expansion of the People's right to appeal section 602 judgments--from no right at all to an unrestricted right exceeding in scope that conferred by statute in criminal cases--would certainly have been reflected in these legislative documents.

The clear legislative intent manifested by the legislative history of section 800 compels the conclusion that the change in language regarding appeals from section 602 judgments was a stylistic revision not intended to create broad new appeal rights in ...

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