Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, November 2, 2012


Page 1


Court to Decide Whether Judge May Restrict Residence

Justices to Consider Claim That Restriction on Probationer Is Unconstitutional


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a broad probation condition that limits a defendant to living at a location approved by a probation officer is constitutional.

The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco Wednesday, granted review in People v. Schaeffer, E053499, in which the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Two, rejected the defendant’s argument that the condition violated her rights of travel and association. Only Justice Marvin Baxter opposed hearing the case.

Susan Ann Schaeffer pled guilty to possessing methamphetamine and being under the influence of a controlled substance, admitted violation of probation, and was placed on probation for three years. Conditions of probation imposed by Riverside Superior Court Judge Elaine M. Johnson included participation in a drug program and that she live only at a residence approved by her probation officer.

The Court of Appeal, in affirming the condition, said it was reasonably related to the defendant’s rehabilitation.

Justice Thomas Hollenhorst, writing for the Court of Appeal, distinguished People v. Bauer (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d 937. The court in that case struck down a condition designed to prevent a defendant from living with his overprotective parents, Hollenhorst explained, in a case where there was no suggestion that living with his parents contributed to the defendant’s crime or would interfere with rehabilitation.

“The present case is distinguishable,” the justice wrote. “Defendant here pled guilty to possessing methamphetamine and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Where she lives will directly affect her rehabilitation (e.g., without any limitations, defendant could choose to live in a residence where drugs are used or sold). Under these circumstances, the state’s interest in defendant’s rehabilitation is properly served by the residence approval condition.”

The court, he added, “would presume a probation officer will not withhold approval for irrational or capricious reasons.”

The justices Wednesday also agreed to determine the applicable statute of limitations when a developer challenges the amount that a city has demanded, as a condition of development approval, pursuant to a below-market-rate housing program.

The Sixth District Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion upholding a Santa Clara Superior Court decision, agreed with the City of Palo Alto that such a challenge was untimely because it was not brought within 90 days from the date of the “decision . . . concerning a subdivision,” as required by Government Code Sec. 66499.37.

The developer contends that the applicable period is 180 days from the date the city gives the developer notice of the amount of the fees and the right to file a protest, as set forth in the Mitigation Fee Act.

The vote to grant review in Sterling Park, L.P. v. City of Palo Alto, H036663, was 4-3. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was joined by Justices Ming Chin, Kathryn M. Werdegar and Goodwin Liu in voting to hear the case, while Baxter and Justices Carol Corrigan and Joyce L. Kennard were opposed. 


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