Knife Laws

California Appeals Court: School Knife Ban Extends To Roads Near Schools?

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A California teenager was convicted of illegally possessing a knife on school grounds, despite the fact that the knife never actually entered the school grounds. In fact the knife in question never left his car, which was parked on a public road next to the school. But California Court Of Appeals Justice David Pollak doesn’t give a shit about inconvenient trivialities like that.

Sfgate.com takes if from here:

State law prohibits possessing a knife on school grounds. Apparently that includes some areas off school grounds, too, like a car parked alongside a road just outside the gate.

A state appeals court in San Francisco upheld a knife-possession charge last week against a student at Pinole Valley High who was spotted in a parked car next to the campus by a policeman during a lunch period in November 2011. The youth drove off and the officer followed, knowing it was a closed campus that did not allow students to leave without permission. He stopped the car, questioned the driver and eventually found a seven-inch folding knife with a three-inch blade in the center console, the court said. The youth, Jacob S., told him he had gone fishing the day before and used the knife to cut his fishing line.

A juvenile court judge found that Jacob had illegally possessed the knife on school grounds and placed him on probation. In a ruling last Wednesday, the First District Court of Appeal agreed with the judge that the law defines “school grounds” broadly to include ”any public right-of-way situated immediately adjacent to school property.”

It might be a more doubtful case if the officer had first seen the car driving down the road next to the school, the court said, but the law clearly extends to the curbside parking lane where Jacob’s car was sighted.

“Particularly in view of the testimony that students regularly use their parked cars as lockers,”  Justice Stuart Pollak said in the 3-0 ruling, “it would frustrate the purpose of the law to interpret a public right-of-way to end at the sidewalk and exclude a student’s car parked at the curb.”

Thank you, Justice Pollak. It must have taken many years of jurisprudence to finally realize that the term ‘school grounds’ can mean absolutely anything you decide it should mean, and damn the English language if it doesn’t cooperate. Since we wouldn’t want to frustrate the purposes of California’s overreaching nanny-state laws, perhaps ‘school grounds’ should include the student’s home as well? And how about your home too, justice Pollak?

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Discussion

13 responses to ‘California Appeals Court: School Knife Ban Extends To Roads Near Schools?

  1. This is why I’m glad Texas clarified/redefined the meaning of ‘premises’ a while back, to keep parents with CHLs legal while dropping their kids off at school, for example.

  2. How exactly did the cop justify the stop and search to begin with?
    It would also be interesting to know if the kid did have
    permission to leave the school.

  3. These schools are all Communist ,,, BAN PUBLIC education and stop taxing the hell out of me to pay for your kids education … Americans need to get off their tail ends and PAY for your kids … It’s not my duty .. BE MEN and real Americans .. TALK is cheap!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Well, the cop suspected the kid was truant, its not much to go on especially since the idea of truancy is somewhat contradictory to the whole liberty and justice for all thing. This really isn’t new though, schools have always maintained that they have almost unlimited authority within their “jurisdiction” if you will and the Supreme Court has upheld that certain Constitutional, Federal, State, and Local rights are forfeited by entering school property. Is it so surprising that they want to extend the reach of their power? Someone was misinformed or overzealous and got a little greedy with their authority, and California OK’d it giving them greater power going forward. Just my $.02

    • The Police Officer had authority to arrest based on the truancy provisions of the California Penal Code. Had nothing to do with the school.

  5. “Since we wouldn’t want to frustrate the purposes of California’s overreaching nanny-state laws, perhaps ‘school grounds’ should include the student’s home as well? And how about your home too, justice Pollak?”

    A++ Chris. Based on the long-term trends of the increasing surveillance society and government intrusion into people’s homes and lives, the definition of public school grounds (government school grounds) may to various degrees be so interpreted someday.

  6. This is what happens when you hand over the job of raising your kids to the government (schools and such..)
    Being a foreigner in the US, I never understood whyyy cops can harass, question kids and issue citations for being late to school. Its confounds me how LAW enforcement has the authority to police what is clearly tardiness and general bad behavior which falls under the realm of parenting.

    While in this case there clearly is a law in place, the kid obviously had no intention to harm anyone. Cops in most 3rd world countries being uneducated never contemplate the fact that there is an intent behind the law. While technically someone maybe in violation of the act, they may not be in violation of the intent for which the law was written. This makes sense when happening in the backwoods uneducated 3rd world. But a State Appeals level judge blindly interpreting the letter and not the spirit is just down right scary. Why are the fates of citizens left in the hands of such moronic minds?

    Also, does the cop have nothing better to do? Why is he not out trying to catch ACTUAL criminals committing actual crime. Does he just have too much time on his hands or is too chicken shit to shake down hardened criminals?

    • He was a school resource officer. This WAS his job, which included providing security to the students, campus and faculty, enforcing the truancy law, mentoring, yada yada, and even on occasion teaching. Now add to this: the school was a closed campus, and students were not allowed to leave during the school day without written permission. Jacob did not have such permission. This, under prior decisions, was just cause to detain and to arrest.

    • Smart justice. This is what the law explicitly states–blades longer than 2 1/2 inches are banned. The justice had nothing to think about, since the Penal Code provided the answer. Judges are not allowed to ignore the law that unambiguously applies to the circumstances.

  7. No, not a stupid judge. From the unpublished decision:

    Jacob had a knife in his car, which was parked on Pinole Valley Road fronting the school. The knife was a locking folding knife with a three-inch blade. It is unlawful to bring or possess “a knife having a blade longer than 2½ inches” or a “folding knife that locks into place” “upon the grounds of, or within, any public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12.” (Pen.Code, § 626.10, subd. (a)(1).) “School” is defined to include a “four-year high school” or “any public right-of-way situated immediately adjacent to school property.” (Pen.Code, § 626, subd. (a)(4).) Jacob contends there is insufficient evidence that his possession of the knife occurred on school grounds. He concedes that the sidewalk along Pinole Valley Road is a public right-of-way adjacent to the school but maintains that the right-of-way does not extend to the road.

    “Our statutory construction begins with the plain, commonsense meaning of the words in the statute ‘ “because it is generally the most reliable indicator of legislative intent and purpose.” ’ [Citation.] ‘When the language of a statute is clear, we need go no further.’ [Citation.] Here, the language is clear, and interpreting it according to its plain meaning will not ‘ “ ‘result in absurd consequences which the Legislature did not intend.’ ” ‘ ” (People v. McCullough (2013) 56 Cal.4th 589, 592.) The usual meaning of a “public right-of-way” includes streets. (E.g., Gov.Code, § 39933 [referring to “[p]ublic streets, highways, and other public rights of way”].) It is “the right of passage held by the public in general to travel on roads, freeways, and other thoroughfares.” (Black’s Law Dict. (8th ed.2004) p. 1351, col. 1.)

    Jacob concedes that public rights of way are commonly understood to include sidewalks and streets but insists that some ambiguity in the meaning remains and thus the statute should be interpreted in his favor to exclude streets. We discern no ambiguity with respect to the present circumstances. While there may be some ambiguity in applying the statute to the traffic lanes of a street that run by a school campus, the parking lane of the street, where Jacob’s car was parked, clearly is within the “public right-of-way situated immediately adjacent to school property,” so that Jacob’s possession of the knife was upon school grounds within the meaning of the statute. (Pen.Code, § 626, subd. (a)(4).)

    In re Jacob S. (Cal. Ct. App., June 19, 2013, A137037) 2013 WL 3043205

    • Thank you Mark for the info on the case. I agree- Judge’s hands were tied by the law. Where he would have discretion would be in the punishment- which if comments in SFGate original link are correct, he got probation.

      Still, an over-reach IMHO created by dumb laws, thanks to the CA legislature… and we see more evidence every day that’s getting worse not better, so its up to the voters to fix that.

      We can speculate on schools resource officer’s judgement, and whether he could have just given a warning- but then we don’t know what he knew, about this kid and the circumstances either, so maybe this is what he had to do, to get the kids attention.

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