People v. Superior Court (Jones), No. S062670

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtMOSK; GEORGE; WERDEGAR
Citation18 Cal.4th 667,958 P.2d 393,76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641
Parties, 958 P.2d 393, 98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5662, 98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7839 The PEOPLE, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent; Melvin Ray JONES, et al., Real Parties in Interest
Decision Date20 July 1998
Docket NumberNo. S062670

Page 641

76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641
18 Cal.4th 667, 958 P.2d 393, 98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5662,
98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7839
The PEOPLE, Petitioner,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent;
Melvin Ray JONES, et al., Real Parties in Interest.
No. S062670.
Supreme Court of California
July 20, 1998.

Page 643

[18 Cal.4th 670] Gil Garcetti, District Attorney, Patrick D. Moran, Brentford J. Ferreira, Natasha S. Cooper and Shirley S.N. Sun, Deputy District Attorneys, for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent.

[18 Cal.4th 671] Larry E. Williams, Ira B. Madison II, Franklin L. Ferguson, Jr., and Michael F. Yamamoto, under appointments by the Supreme Court, Los Angeles, for Real Parties in Interest.

Steven J. Carroll, Public Defender (San Diego), Timothy A. Chandler, Alternate Deputy Public Defender (San Diego), Greg S. Maizlish, Deputy Public Defender, and Jacqueline C. Crowle, Alternate Deputy Public Defender, as Amici Curiae on behalf of Real Parties in Interest.

MOSK, Justice.

In this matter, the Court of Appeal reversed a finding by the juvenile court that two 15-year-olds who killed a store owner during a robbery were fit and proper subjects for treatment under the juvenile court law.

Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (e), the minors were presumptively unfit, but could overcome the presumption if they established fitness under each of five criteria: (A) the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor; (B) whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction; (C) the minor's previous delinquency history; (D) the success of previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor; and (E) the circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged to have been committed.

The juvenile court concluded that the minors were fit and proper subjects for treatment under the juvenile court law under each of the criteria. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding the juvenile court abused its discretion in concluding that the minors were fit. We agree; the juvenile court's findings that the minors were fit as to the first and fifth statutory criteria, i.e., "the degree of criminal sophistication" and "the circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged to have been committed," were not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

I.

Melvin Ray Jones and Marcus Jones were 15 years old at the time of the incident giving rise to this proceeding. They are cousins; Marcus frequently stayed at Melvin's home. They attended Inglewood High School, where they earned acceptable grades; both participated in school and church activities. Neither had a history of criminal activity or gang affiliation.

On May 23, 1996, the minors left school to "eat lunch and get high." According to Melvin, they shared two quart bottles of fortified wine and [18 Cal.4th 672] several marijuana cigarettes with two classmates before returning to school. After school, Melvin returned home to retrieve a gun he had "borrowed" from his friend John. He and Marcus then went to visit John and the boys consumed additional alcohol and marijuana. Later they shared a half-pint of vodka and smoked more marijuana cigarettes. John told Melvin to keep the gun until the next day. According to Marcus, he did not consume any drugs, but was intoxicated after he drank fortified wine and vodka.

About 6 or 7 p.m., after returning to Melvin's home, the minors continued a discussion they had begun earlier in the day about getting some money for the school prom by robbing someone. Melvin's father had limited his allowance, suspecting drug use, and refused to give him money to attend a school event. According to Melvin, he and his friends frequently talked about "jacking" someone for money. Melvin suggested a local market as their target, because "they could get away with it." Marcus was reluctant to join the plan, but did so because he was concerned for Melvin's safety. According to Marcus, the plan was to go into the store, "take down" whoever was in there, rush the cash register, "get what you got to get and leave."

Page 644

They headed toward the store, stopping once or twice to vomit. The minors brought masks, apparently obtained from the school lost-and-found, and two gloves. Melvin checked the gun; he found that there was a bullet in the firing chamber. The gun was cocked. The minors attempted to uncock the gun and remove the bullet, so the gun would not discharge accidentally and hit one of them, but they were unable to do so.

The minors waited in an alcove near the store for customers to leave. Several neighborhood residents saw them; some recognized Melvin. Before entering the store, each minor put on a mask and a glove. Melvin took out the gun and entered the store first, and stood between the doorway and the front counter. The gun immediately fired into the face of the store owner, apparently at close range, killing him. The minors took money from the cash register, dropping all but a small amount, and ran from the store.

The minors fled to Melvin's apartment, discarding the masks, gloves, and gun along the way. They were pursued by police officers on the scene, who were alerted that someone had been shot. Although the minors reached the apartment, they did not have the key, apparently having lost it earlier in the day. They were arrested outside the apartment. The items dropped by the minors were subsequently located by the police, including the gun, which was found in the front yard of the house next door.

After they were detained, the minors were required to wait in the backseat of the police car for a field showup with several witnesses. Their conversation was recorded by a tape recorder left running by the police. In the course [18 Cal.4th 673] of the conversation, they admitted the crime. Marcus stated that he "knew [he] shouldn't have did this shit" and that he was "faded." Melvin stated, "That's why I got hell fuckin' drunk." Melvin initially stated that he did not know why he shot the victim. Marcus asked him how it happened, observing that it was unprovoked: "Man how the fuck you pull the trigger on that nigger man? He didn't do nothing man." Melvin answered "I didn't even try to man, I don't mean it." Through the course of the conversation, he repeated that he "didn't mean it," and also stated: "I wouldn't have shot, man I was like fuck it. I just grabbed for the cash and ran." Marcus repeatedly expressed his desire to "run" and attempted to free himself from the handcuffs. He alternately blamed Melvin, stating "you shouldn't have fucked my life up like this," and wondered "who snitched on us." During the conversation, the minors also expressed fear and regret at the likelihood of imprisonment and the pain it would cause their parents.

On May 28, 1996, the People filed a petition as to each minor pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, alleging murder and second degree robbery, plus personal use of a handgun, and concurrently, motions pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (d), to find the minors unfit subjects for treatment under the juvenile court law. The juvenile court ordered probation reports and evaluations by court-appointed psychologists.

The probation reports indicated that neither minor had a prior record and that their behavior was "out of character"; they had been behaving satisfactorily at home and in the community and were active in their church. The reports concluded, nonetheless, that the minors were unfit subjects for treatment under juvenile court law under the criterion of the degree of criminal sophistication because the offense was preplanned, the minors attempted to conceal their identities, and they used a handgun. The reports also concluded that the minors were unfit under the criterion of the circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged, based on "[t]he fact that [they] did arm themselves with a handgun and did rob and murder the victim." On these grounds, the reports recommended that the minors be found unfit for treatment under the juvenile court law.

The psychiatric reports concluded that the minors were fit and proper subjects for treatment under the juvenile court law, despite the gravity of the crime, pointing, in particular, to their lack of previous criminal conduct, their intoxication, and their apparent lack of intent to kill.

Page 645

The minors also submitted numerous letters from friends, teachers, and members of their church who described them as well-behaved, cooperative, [18 Cal.4th 674] and likable. Detention reports submitted to the court described the minors as compliant and cooperative. The detention report on Melvin noted that he was "the best behaved minor in the unit"; the report on Marcus noted that he was a group leader in the juvenile hall program.

On January 10, 1997, fitness hearings commenced. The juvenile court permitted the fitness motion to be filed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (e). The minors waived their right to a hearing under Edsel P. v. Superior Court (1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 763, 211 Cal.Rptr. 869. The People conceded that the minors met several of the criteria for fitness--specifically that the minors could be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction, had no previous delinquent history, and had been subject to no previous attempts by the juvenile court at rehabilitation--but contended that they were unfit under the criteria of the degree of criminal sophistication and the circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged.

The juvenile court found the minors fit and proper subjects for treatment under the juvenile court law under each of the criteria under Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (e), and recited reasons for its findings.

As to the first criterion, the degree of...

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  • People v. Fultz, C088566
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 27, 2021
    ...evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, which will support the determination ....’ " ( People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 681, 76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393, italics omitted.) We do not consider the credibility of witnesses or reweigh the evidence, and we draw all ......
  • People v. Suarez, F070210
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 4, 2017
    ...minors between the ages of 14 and 16 who were alleged to have committed certain forms of murder ( People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 680–681, fn. 1, 76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393 ).In 1999, the Legislature added subdivision (b) to section 602, mandating the direct fi......
  • People v. Brewer, F070564
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 17, 2017
    ...ages of 14 and 16 who 17 Cal.App.5th 478were alleged to have committed certain forms of murder ( People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 680-681, fn. 1, 76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393 ).In 1999, the Legislature added subdivision (b) to section 602, mandating the direct fil......
  • People v. Killebrew, No. F036957.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 8, 2002
    ...doubt. (People v. Hillhouse (2002) 27 Cal.4th 469, 496, 117 Cal.Rptr.2d 45, 40 P.3d 754; People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 681, 76 Cal. Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393.) We focus on the whole record, not isolated bits of evidence. (People v. Slaughter (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1187,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
203 cases
  • People v. Fultz, C088566
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 27, 2021
    ...evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, which will support the determination ....’ " ( People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 681, 76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393, italics omitted.) We do not consider the credibility of witnesses or reweigh the evidence, and we draw all ......
  • People v. Suarez, F070210
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 4, 2017
    ...minors between the ages of 14 and 16 who were alleged to have committed certain forms of murder ( People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 680–681, fn. 1, 76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393 ).In 1999, the Legislature added subdivision (b) to section 602, mandating the direct fi......
  • People v. Brewer, F070564
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 17, 2017
    ...ages of 14 and 16 who 17 Cal.App.5th 478were alleged to have committed certain forms of murder ( People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 680-681, fn. 1, 76 Cal.Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393 ).In 1999, the Legislature added subdivision (b) to section 602, mandating the direct fil......
  • People v. Killebrew, No. F036957.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 8, 2002
    ...doubt. (People v. Hillhouse (2002) 27 Cal.4th 469, 496, 117 Cal.Rptr.2d 45, 40 P.3d 754; People v. Superior Court (Jones) (1998) 18 Cal.4th 667, 681, 76 Cal. Rptr.2d 641, 958 P.2d 393.) We focus on the whole record, not isolated bits of evidence. (People v. Slaughter (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1187,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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