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Name: Lopez v. Superior Court
Case #: S172589
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 10/18/2010

The static factors of an MDO commitment, including whether the crime of conviction falls within the statute, must be litigated during the initial one-year commitment period. The Mentally Disordered Offender Act (MDO) (Pen. Code, sec. 2960 et seq.) requires that offenders convicted of violent crimes related to their mental disorder who continue to pose a threat based on the disorder, receive mental health treatment as a condition of parole until the disorder can be kept in remission. The act provides for treatment of certified MDOs at three stages. Penal Code section 2962 governs the first commitment phase and sets forth the six criteria necessary to establish MDO status. The first three criteria are capable of change over time and must be established at each annual review. The other three, including whether defendant is convicted of a qualifying crime, are static or foundational, and incapable of change. Section 2966, subdivision (c), which concerns the second commitment, deals with continuation of parole. Sections 2970 and 2972 govern the final phase and provide that where parole has terminated, the prosecution can petition for continued treatment of the defendant if his mental disorder is not in remission. Applying rules of statutory construction and considering legislative intent, the Court found that the defendant may challenge the static criteria only during the initial one-year commitment period, and not during the third commitment phase. Here, Lopez, convicted of a non-qualifying offense (possession of a dirk or dagger), attempted to contest whether he committed an enumerated offense at the third commitment phase, but the action was found untimely by the appellate court and the Supreme Court affirmed.