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People v. One 1953 Ford Victoria
California Supreme Court
48 Cal. 2d 595, 311 P.2d 480 (1957)
Willie Smith (defendant) purchased a 1953 Ford Victoria (the vehicle) in Bexar County, Texas. To finance the purchase, Smith executed a note secured by a mortgage on the vehicle. The note provided that Smith could not take the vehicle out of Bexar County without the creditor’s written consent. The dealer who sold the vehicle to Smith assigned the note and mortgage to Dean and Company (respondent), a Texas entity. At the time that Dean and Company received the assignment, it did not make any investigation regarding Smith’s character. Without Dean and Company’s knowledge or consent, Smith took the vehicle to California, where he used it to transport drugs. The vehicle was seized. The attorney general of California, on behalf of the people of California (the People) (plaintiff), commenced a forfeiture action against the vehicle. Dean and Company filed an answer asserting its security interest in the vehicle. The trial court found Dean and Company’s mortgage to be valid under Texas law and entered a judgment forfeiting the vehicle to the People, subject to the unpaid balance on the note secured by Dean and Company’s mortgage. The People appealed the portion of the judgment upholding Dean and Company’s lien.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Traynor, J.)
Concurrence (Schauer, J.)
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