Lorenson v. Superior Court
California Supreme Court
35 Cal.2d 49, 216 P.2d 859 (1950)
Alfred Pearson was a shady businessman. Harry Lorenson (defendant) was a Los Angeles policeman who despised Pearson, and who had arrested Pearson on several occasions. When Pearson allegedly swindled a local widow out of the title to her home, Lorenson discussed the situation with an attorney, Jerome Weber, who agreed to represent the widow for free. Lorenson also apparently discussed it with the acting police captain Swan, other officers, and with Mickey Cohen, a local “generally nefarious character.” Lorenson later received a call from an unknown person stating that Pearson’s store would soon be picketed. The next day, the picketing began, and four of the picketers, who were Cohen’s associates, attacked Pearson in his store. Cohen’s men beat Pearson severely, and stole a recording device. The assailants fled, but were eventually stopped after fleeing from a patrol car that had attempted to stop them for a traffic violation. The seven men in the car were arrested and brought to a police station. During the time frame of the assault and car chase, but before the arrested men reached the station, Weber called the police station to inquire if anyone had been arrested for a disturbance related to Pearson, and Lorenson also called, asking if anyone picketing Pearson’s store had been arrested. A few minutes after the arrested men arrived at the station, Swan called in from his home and ordered the men released immediately. Another officer instructed the arresting officers to destroy their notes and not discuss the arrests. Swan later told the press that no arrests had been made in the case. A photographer, however, had taken photographs of the alleged assailants as they were being arrested, and a newspaper soon ran a story in which Pearson described the assault. Lorenson, Swan, Weber, Cohen, other officers, and the seven men from the car were indicted with conspiracy to commit robbery, assault, and obstruction of justice. Lorenson filed a request for a writ of prohibition to restrain the superior court from proceeding to trial, alleging that there was insufficient evidence to show that any conspiracy had occurred.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Edmonds, J.)
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