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Name: Macy v. Superior Court
Case #: H037138
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/15/2012
Subsequent History: Review granted 9/12/12: S204255

Automatic dismissal of SVPA commitment proceedings is not the appropriate remedy when original concurring evaluations under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6601 were conducted using an invalid regulation and updated evaluations conducted under section 6603 produced conflicting opinions regarding whether an individual meets the SVP criteria. Petitioner’s original section 6601 concurring evaluations were conducted using an invalid regulation. Updated evaluations conducted under section 6603 resulted in conflicting opinions regarding whether the petitioner met the SVP criteria. Petitioner argued that the trial court was legally obligated to dismiss his SVPA commitment proceedings under these circumstances. The Court of Appeal denied petitioner’s writ of mandate without prejudice and refined the remedy created by In re Ronje (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 509, to address the situation where evaluations under section 6601 were conducted under an invalid “underground regulation.” When an individual seeks Ronje relief after a probable cause hearing but before trial, the person must affirmatively show (1) the concurring evaluations under 6601 were conducted using an invalid assessment protocol and (2) this error or irregularity “reasonably might have affected the outcome” of the probable cause hearing. If such a showing is made, the court should allow a reasonable time for the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to obtain new evaluations using a valid protocol. If the individual additionally establishes that the use of an invalid assessment protocol resulted in a material defect in either of the concurring evaluations that were the basis for filing the commitment petition, new concurring evaluations must be produced pursuant to section 6601 to cure the defect. Where refined Ronje relief is ordered and the DMH satisfies the applicable requirements, the court must hold a new probable cause hearing pursuant to section 6602. The court must dismiss the commitment petition only if a rare situation arises where DMH does not meet these requisites. Here, petitioner did not show that the trial court ordered the new evaluations that produced several splits in opinion to effectuate a Ronje remedy. Instead, it appeared that the new conflicting evaluations were generated pursuant to section 6603, subdivision (c) and such disagreement did not mandate dismissal.