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Name: Lopez v. Superior Court
Case #: G040679
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/23/2009
Subsequent History: rev. granted 7/29/09 (S172589)

A mentally disordered offender could not challenge the foundational elements of the original commitment at a recommitment hearing. The prosecution sought by way of a section 2970 petition to extend Lopez’s MDO commitment for an additional year. Lopez moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that he was not an MDO because his underlying crime did not involve force or violence as required under section 2962. In his petition for writ of mandate, Lopez contended that he had the right to challenge the absence of a foundational element which had never been determined by a trial court or jury. The appellate court denied the writ, finding that the denial of Lopez’s motion to dismiss was proper. Section 2970 specifies that the only issue to be determined at a court hearing at the recommitment stage is whether the patient meets the criteria for recommitment, i.e. whether the patient’s mental disorder makes him a danger of harm to others. Lopez’s challenge to his original MDO certification, brought after his initial commitment expired, was untimely.