Zerbe, In re

Decision Date14 January 1964
Docket NumberCr. 7451
Citation60 Cal.2d 666,388 P.2d 182,36 Cal.Rptr. 286
Parties, 388 P.2d 182, 55 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2155, 10 A.L.R.3d 840, 48 Lab.Cas. P 50,991 In re Conrad W. ZERBE on Habeas Corpus
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court

Neyhart & Grodin and Duane B. Beeson, San Francisco, for petitioner.

Stanley Mosk, Atty. Gen., Albert W. Harris, Jr., and Robert R. Granucci, Deputy Attys. Gen., for respondent.

GIBSON, Chief Justice.

Petitioner was convicted in the Municipal Court for the San Leandro-Hayward Judicial District of wilful trespass in violation of subdivision (l) of section 602 of the Penal Code. 1 The judgment of conviction was affirmed without opinion by the Appellate Department of the Superior Court of Alameda County, which certified that a transfer of the case to the District Court of Appeal appeared necessary to settle important questions of law. The District Court of Appeal denied the transfer, and petitioner, who is presently on bail, commenced this habeas corpus proceeding.

The Shipwrights, Joiners, Boatbuilders and Caulkers, Local 1149, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, AFL-CIO, which had been certified by the National Labor Relations Board as the collective bargaining agent for the employees of Chris Craft Corporation at its Hayward plant, instituted a strike after negotiations for a contract proved unsuccessful. The Southern Pacific Company served the plant by means of a spur track, and, in connection with picketing commenced by the union, petitioner, an official of the union, entered Southern Pacific's right-of-way and stationed himself at or near the junction of the spur track and the main line. Petitioner was arrested by an agent of Southern Pacific after he refused to leave the property.

Habeas corpus is available in cases where the court has acted in excess of its jurisdiction. (Pen.Code, § 1487, subd. 1; Neal v. State of California, 55 Cal.2d 11, 16, 9 Cal.Rptr. 607, 357 P.2d 839.) For purposes of this writ as well as prohibition or certiorari, the term 'jurisdiction' is not limited to its fundamental meaning, and in such proceedings judicial acts may be restrained or annulled if determined to be in excess of the court's powers as defined by constitutional provision, statute, or rules developed by courts. (Neal v. State of California, supra, 55 Cal.2d 11, 16, 9 Cal.Rptr. 607, 357 P.2d 839 (habeas corpus); Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court, 57 Cal.2d 450, 454-455, 20 Cal.Rptr. 321, 369 P.2d 937 (certiorari); Abelleira v. District Court of Appeal, 17 Cal.2d 280, 287, 109 P.2d 942, 132 A.L.R. 715 et seq. (prohibition).) In accordance with these principles a defendant is entitled to habeas corpus if there is no material dispute as to the facts relating to his conviction and if it appears that the statute under which he was convicted did not prohibit his conduct. (Cf. In re Allen, 59 Cal.2d 5, 6, 27 Cal.Rptr. 168, 377 P.2d 280; Neal v. State of California, supra, 55 Cal.2d 11, 16, 9 Cal.Rptr. 607, 357 P.2d 839; In re McVickers, 29 Cal.2d 264, 279, 176 P.2d 40; Ex parte Greenall, 153 Cal. 767, 770, 96 P. 804; Ex parte Mirande, 73 Cal. 365, 371, 14 P. 888.)

The question to be determined is whether it appears from undisputed facts concerning petitioner's conduct that the general trespass provision contained in subdivision (l) of section 602 of the Penal Code is to be interpreted as inapplicable to him. It should be stressed at the outset that, since we are not confronted with the availability of civil remedies but with the construction of a criminal statute, petitioner must be given the benefit of every reasonable doubt as to whether the statute was applicable to him. (Walsh v. Dept. Alcoholic Bev. Control, 59 Cal.2d 757, 764-765, 31 Cal.Rptr. 297, 382 P.2d 337; In re Tartar, 52 Cal.2d 250, 256-257, 339 P.2d 553.)

Vital to the proper construction of subdivision (l) in this case is the article of the Penal Code (§§ 552-555.5) which, in prohibiting the entering or remaining upon certain industrial properties posted against trespassing, provides (§ 552.1, subd. (a)) that it does not prohibit any 'lawful activity for the purpose of engaging in any organizational effort on behalf of any labor union, agent, or member thereof, or of any employee group, or any member thereof, employed or formerly employed in any place of business or manufacturing establishment described in this article, or for the purpose of carrying on the lawful activities of labor unions, or members thereof.' Among the industrial properties designated in this article are railroad rights-of-way.

Thus the Legislature in dealing with trespasses on a railroad right-of-way posted against trespassing has specifically subordinated the rights of the property owner to those of persons engaging in lawful labor activities. Sections 552- 555.5 of the Penal Code must be read together with subdivision (l) of section 602, and that subdivision must be treated as also subject to the labor activity exception when, as here, unposted property of the type designated in the posting law is entered. Where property is not posted, an unauthorized person about to enter it does not receive the same formal notice or warning that is given in the case of posted property, and it would be anomalous to hold that a picket who enters unposted property is in a worse position than one who enters posted property.

The language which sets forth the exception relating to labor activities is broad enough to exempt conduct on any of the designated industrial properties whether owned by a person directly involved in the labor dispute or by someone else. We would be restricting the exception by judicial construction if we were to read into it a limitation based solely on the ownership of property by presons not involved in the dispute. We find no reason to do so, and, to the contrary, our imposition of such a limitation would be in conflict with the principle that every reasonable doubt as to the meaning of a criminal statute must be resolved in favor of a defendant.

The exception relating to labor activities may, of course, be invoked only where the activities are 'lawful.' It is not claimed that the objective of the union in its dispute with Chris Craft was unlawful, and, in...

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  • Gladys R., In re
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
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    ...is applicable to him (People v. Baker (1968) 69 Cal.2d 44, 46, 69 Cal.Rptr. 595, 442 P.2d 675; In re Zerbe (1964) 60 Cal.2d 666, 669, 36 Cal.Rptr. 286, 388 P.2d 182, 10 A.L.R.3d 840), we reaffirm the construction given section 647a in Pallares and subsequent cases. During the 17 years since......
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    ...and People v. Mutch, 4 Cal.3d 389, 396, 93 Cal.Rptr. 721, 482 P.2d 633, relying on the principle in In re Zerbe, 60 Cal.2d 666, 667--668, 36 Cal.Rptr. 286, 288, 388 P.2d 182, 184, held that a defendant is entitled to habeas corpus relief under Daniels 'if there is no material dispute as to ......
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    ...so as to reach the facts of the instant case. Accordingly, habeas corpus is an appropriate remedy. (In re Zerbe (1964) 60 Cal.2d 666, 668, 36 Cal.Rptr. 286, 388 P.2d 182, 10 A.L.R.3d 840.) Inasmuch as section 403 does not apply to petitioners' conduct, we need not determine whether the pena......
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