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Name: In re Jesus G.
Case #: B245823
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 07/24/2013

Under a Protocol implementing Welfare and Institutions Code section 709, a minor detained in juvenile hall pending attainment of competency must be provided with adequate services. Section 709 addresses competency proceedings in the juvenile court setting. Los Angeles County issued a Protocol that establishes time limitations for implementing the provisions of the statute and requires the court to order services for a minor who is detained and has a substantial probability of attaining competency. The minor here was found incompetent to stand trial in his juvenile case. Several of the deadlines established by the Protocol were missed and the minor did not receive services to address his incompetency while detained in juvenile hall. He filed a habeas corpus petition for his release. The Court of Appeal determined that the Protocol was not followed but dismissed the petition as moot. The court found that the Protocol is not preempted by section 709 because it mirrors the statute and the additional language does not conflict with the statute. The court also found that the Protocol is in line with constitutional requirements of due process, as it addresses the problem of an indefinite commitment and the necessity of making a prognosis as to the likelihood of minor’s attaining competency. Finally, the court found that several of the Protocol’s timelines were violated because the juvenile court did not set a timely planning hearing on the minor’s incompetency to stand trial, did not order coordination of services, and did not make a finding on the probability that minor would attain competency. The Protocol was also violated because minor was detained without being provided required services. Because minor had been released by the time the case was ultimately decided, his petition was dismissed as moot.