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Name: Garcetti v. Superior Court (In re Blake)
Case #: B141817
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/29/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 4/11/01

The Court of Appeal rejected the argument that the constitutionality of Kansas’ Sexually Violent Predator Act, upheld in Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) 521 U.S. 346, was based upon the scope of the application of the statute, and that the addition of those previously found to be mentally disordered sex offenders impermissibly expanded the statute’s scope. While Blake contended that nonviolent misdemeanants, such as those convicted of possessing obscene matter, could be included, the Court of Appeal cautioned that the MDSO finding, standing alone, was not sufficient to trigger treatment under the SVPA, but that there must also be evidence of a currently diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engaged in sexually violent criminal behavior. The Court of Appeal ordered the writ of mandate to be issued, directing the trial court to vacate its order dismissing the amended petition, and to enter a new order reinstating the petition and overruling Blake’s demurrer. The Sexually Violent Predators Act is clear and unamibiguous, and the trial court erred in finding the statute to be ambiguous. Moreover, the trial court’s construction of the statute was at odds with the rules of statutory construction that require courts to ascertain the plain meaning of the statute, and with the “last antecedent rule.” The “last antecedent rule” provides that qualifying words, phrases and clauses are to be applied to the words or phrases immediately preceding and are not to be construed as extending to or including others more remote except when separated from the antecedents by a comma. In section 6600, subdivision (a), the qualifying phrase is not separated by a comma, and the two exceptions to the “last antecedent rule” do not apply. Moreover, the legislative history supports this application of the last antecedent rule. A finding in a previous case that Blake was a mentally disordered sex offender, which was based on a conviction for an attempted lewd and lascivious act upon a child under age 14, qualified Blake for treatment under the Sexually Violent Predators Act because any MDSO finding qualifies as a prior conviction for purposes of the SVPA. Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600, subdivision (a), explicitly provides that a “conviction resulting in a finding that the person was a mentally disordered sex offender . . . shall also be deemed to be sexually violent offense, even if the offender did not receive a determinate sentence for that prior offense.”