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Name: Davenport v. Superior Court of San Francisco
Case #: A131008
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 01/05/2012

Use of an invalid evaluation protocol in an SVP proceeding does not result in dismissal of the SVP petition when the court has obtained jurisdiction. A Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) commitment commences when the prison officials evaluate and determine the inmate is a likely SVP, and refer him/her to the Department of Mental Health for a full evaluation. Two mental health professionals evaluate the inmate per a standardized assessment protocol developed by the Department and, with concurring evaluations, refer the inmate to the district attorney who files a petition for commitment. The inmate is entitled to a probable cause hearing and, if probable cause is found, a jury trial on the issue of whether he/she is an SVP. In this case, two professionals concurred that petitioner met the criteria for commitment and a petition was filed in the superior court. It was then established that an invalid protocol had been utilized and new non-concurring evaluations were obtained, using a valid protocol. Petitioner brought this habeas action, seeking dismissal of the petition. The court found that dismissal was not the proper remedy because a flaw in the protocol has no effect on the jurisdiction of the court. Here, at the time of filing, the petition was properly filed and, therefore, the court has obtained jurisdiction and should proceed to trial.