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Name: Carr v. Superior Court
Case #: A147957
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/28/2017

A defendant’s competence to stand trial can be reassessed after he has been committed to the state hospital but before he has been transferred for treatment. The trial court found Carr incompetent to stand trial for murder and other offenses and committed him to a secure treatment facility. While he was awaiting transfer, the medical director of the Department of State Hospitals opined that Carr was malingering. Over Carr’s objection, the court authorized a forensic psychiatrist to determine Carr’s possible competence to stand trial. The psychiatrist opined that Carr was malingering and filed a declaration and certificate of competency. Thereafter, the trial court scheduled a competency trial, which Carr challenged by a petition for writ of mandate/prohibition on the basis that court should not have allowed his competency to be reassessed before he had been transferred for treatment. After the Court of Appeal denied the petition, the Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case to the Court of Appeal with directions to issue an order to show cause. Held: Petition denied. When an accused is found mentally incompetent, the court must suspend criminal proceedings until competency has been restored. (Pen. Code, § 1370.1, subd. (a)(1)(B).) Once suspended, the court must order that the accused be transferred to the state hospital or developmental center for care and treatment. However, contrary to Carr’s contention, there is no prohibition against reassessing competence before an accused has been transferred. “Instead, the statute requires that when the medical director of the state hospital determines a defendant has regained competence, ‘the director shall immediately certify that fact to the court.'” (Citing Pen. Code, § 1372, subd. (a)(1).) After analyzing the applicable statutes, the court concluded that state hospital officials may certify a defendant’s restoration to competence without first placing the defendant in a treatment facility.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: