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The People v. Leroy Racklin

May 19, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
LEROY RACKLIN, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(San Francisco City & County Super. Ct. No. 202772, 203741) Trial Court San Francisco City &County Superior Court Trial Judge Honorable Carol Yaggy

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margulies, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Defendant Leroy Racklin appeals from a judgment imposing a four-year term in state prison following the revocation of his probation. He contends the trial court erred in considering evidence in the revocation hearing of an admission elicited from him by police officers in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 (Miranda). We find the Miranda exclusionary rule does not apply in probation revocation proceedings, and defendant failed in any event to meet his burden of proving prejudice. We therefore affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Defendant's Drug Convictions

In exchange for the dismissal of various enhancement allegations and a three-year term of probation, defendant pleaded guilty to a charge of transportation and/or sale of cocaine base (Health & Saf. Code, § 11352, subd. (a)) in superior court case No. 202772. He was released on probation on September 10, 2007.

Following new arrests in September and October 2007, and the filing of new criminal charges on October 18, 2007 in superior court case No. 203741, the district attorney moved to revoke defendant's probation. On November 26, 2007, defendant admitted a probation violation in case No. 202772 and pleaded guilty to a felony sale of a substance falsely represented to be a controlled substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11355) in case No. 203741. In return, the prosecution agreed to defendant's reinstatement on modified terms of probation in the old case, the dismissal of the enhancement allegations and a grant of a three-year term of probation in the new case, and a concurrent jail term condition of probation in each case. On January 9, 2008, the court imposed the probation terms and conditions per the agreement.

B. Contested Probation Violation

Defendant was arrested on July 25, 2008, after cocaine base weighing 30.67 grams was found in a probation search of his apartment. The district attorney moved for an order revoking defendant's probation. Probation was administratively revoked and defendant was remanded into the sheriff's custody pending a probation revocation hearing. At the revocation hearing on December 5, 2008, by stipulation, the People submitted their case-in-chief on the transcript of a preliminary hearing and reserved the right to call rebuttal witnesses.

On July 25, 2008, at 2:24 a.m., San Francisco Police Officer Antonio Carrasco and his partner, Officer Christopher Cotter, stopped their patrol car at the Neil Hotel on Mission Street. They approached defendant, who was with two other individuals, told him he was loitering, and asked if he was on probation or parole. Defendant told the officers he had a probation search condition, which the officers confirmed by performing a records check. Defendant also had a probation condition not to loiter in that area, which was notorious for cocaine base sales. Carrasco searched defendant's person and found nothing. Carrasco asked him why he was in the area, and defendant told him he lived at the Neil Hotel.

The officers accompanied defendant to a room in the hotel, which he confirmed was his, and produced a key to the room. In a probation search of the room the officers found a black bag containing three rocks weighing 30.67 grams, which later tested positive for cocaine base. When the drugs were found, Carrasco turned to defendant and asked, " 'Is this yours?' " Defendant responded, " 'Yes. They are.' " Defendant's girlfriend, Latenia Johnson, was in the room when police got there, but she was not questioned about the drugs.

Officer Cotter later read defendant his rights under Miranda at the police station, at which time he declined to make a statement. The magistrate overruled defendant's Miranda objection to Carrasco's testimony that he had admitted the narcotics were his. Defendant was held to answer on charges of felony possession of cocaine base for sale and misdemeanor contempt of a stay-away order. These criminal charges were ultimately dismissed after the prosecution elected to proceed only on the revocation motion.

The defense called Latenia Johnson at the revocation hearing. She invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself. The People and the court declined to grant her immunity from prosecution based on her testimony, and the court sustained her invocation of the privilege.

Defendant testified somebody had asked him for a cigarette as he was returning home from the store on the night in question. At that moment, the police arrived, jumped out of their vehicle, and proceeded to question him. He explained that his probation conditions included a "walk-though . . . between 16th and 17th" Avenue, and that he was on his way inside his hotel where he lived when the police detained him. They handcuffed him, went through his pockets, and took him upstairs to his room where Johnson had ...


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