PEOPLE v. ONE 1940 FORD COUPE

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District Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1, California.

PEOPLE v. ONE 1940 FORD V–8 COUPE.

Cr. 17341.

Decided: April 25, 1950

Fred N. Howser, Attorney General, Dan Kaufman, Deputy Attorney General, for appellant. Hugo A. Steinmeyer and John E. Walter, Los Angeles, for respondent.

‘This is an appeal by the plaintiff, the People of the State of California, from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County ordering the forfeiture of a vehicle to the State of California for violation of the provisions of the Health and Safety Code relating to narcotics, said forfeiture being declared subject to the lien of the legal owner of said vehicle in the sum of $442.92. Notice of seizure and intended forfeiture proceedings was served and filed, notifying the registered owner and the legal owner of said vehicle of the time, place and reason for the seizure of the vehicle, and disclosing the intention of the State to forfeit said vehicle. The registered owner did not file an answer, but an answer was filed by the legal owner, Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, denying the unlawful use of said vehicle upon information and belief and alleging that it was the assignee and holder of a conditional sales contract on said vehicle which it had acquired from Art Taylor Motor Company from which Nick G. Chronis, the registered owner, had purchased the vehicle in question; the answer also alleged that said bank was the legal owner of record and that Nick G. Chronis was the registered owner of record. The answer did not allege that any investigation of the character of the purchaser, Nick G. Chronis, had been made by the bank nor do any allegations appear therein concerning the character of said Nick G. Chronis. Subsequently, the case was tried and the court rendered its judgment forfeiting said vehicle to the State of California subject to the right, title and interest in and to said vehicle of the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association in the sum of $442.92.

‘The trial court found that the vehicle in question was used contrary to the provisions of law relating to narcotics, and with regard to the lien of the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, found that it had a right, title and interest in and to the subject vehicle in the sum of $442.92, that this right, title and interest was bona fide and was created without any knowledge that said vehicle was being or was to be used in violation of the provisions of law relating to narcotics, that before its right, title and interest in said vehicle was acquired, the bank did not make any investigation of the moral responsibility, character, and reputation of the registered owner and purchaser of said vehicle. The court made the finding that the moral responsibility, character and reputation of the registered owner and purchaser of said vehicle, to-wit, Nick G. Chronis, was, at the time of the creation of the right, title and interest of Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association and, is good, but such fact was not known to the legal owner before or at the time its right, title and interest was created. The court concluded that Section 11620 of the Health and Safety Code was not applicable and no reasonable investigation need by shown by the legal owner since the moral responsibility, character and reputation of the owner and purchaser of said vehicle was good and since under Section 3532 of the Civil Code the law neither does nor requires idle acts. The court then concluded that the vehicle should be forfeited to the State of California subject to the lien of the bank in the sum of $442.92 and entered judgment accordingly. This appeal is only from that portion of the judgment which allows the lien of the bank in the sum of $442.92.’ (Italics added.)

The record reveals that at the time the car was seized it was being driven by Frank Chronis the brother of the owner. The owner Nick Chronis is 23 years old and the brother Frank is 17. The evidence shows that both have good reputations; both lived at home with their parents.

Appellant contends that because the bank made no investigation as to moral character of the car owner its lien must fail. Also that the so-called ‘Health and Safety Code’ was not complied with by the bank in other technical respects. It is also contended that the court erred in permitting the bank to prove ‘that the purchaser in fact was of good moral character’.

There is no merit to this contention in the circumstances. The evidence supports the findings and the trial court's application of the law heretofore noted, viz., that the law does not require idle acts is, in the light of the record, a complete answer to appellant's contention in this regard.

The court's ruling on the admissibility of evidence was not error.

The judgment is affirmed.

DORAN, Justice.

WHITE, P. J., and DRAPEAU, J., concur.