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Name: People v. Alvarez
Case #: A152349
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/12/2019

An NGI defendant confined in a state mental hospital may not issue a subpoena duces tecum to compel the hospital and hospital police to produce documents when there is no underlying active proceeding, motion, or petition. In 2008, Alvarez pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) to assault with a firearm and was committed to a state hospital. His case thereafter remained largely inactive. In 2017, Alvarez’s attorney issued subpoenas under his 2008 criminal case number, seeking various documents from the hospital and the hospital police related to policies, procedures, and incidents, including an incident that led to Alvarez’s transfer to jail. Alvarez did not file any petition or any proceeding in connection with the subpoenas, and he did not move to re-open discovery or otherwise seek permission to serve the subpoenas. The trial court granted the state’s motion to quash both subpoenas, and Alvarez appealed. Held: Affirmed. Alvarez conceded that no specific statutory or other authority permits a postcommitment NGI defendant to subpoena information pertaining to his treatment, conditions of confinement, or restoration of sanity. Instead, he primarily relied on In re Cirino (1972) 28 Cal.App.3d 1009 to argue he had a right to such discovery at any time during his commitment based on the trial court’s continuing jurisdiction under Penal Code section 1026 and its authority under Code of Civil Procedure 187. The Court of Appeal disagreed. Cirino merely established the trial court’s duty to order confinement under section 1026 carries with it the power to make whatever orders are necessary to make the confinement effective. “Nothing in the court’s holding or reasoning supports an NGI defendant’s right to propound freestanding discovery.” The trial court correctly determined that its jurisdiction did “not authorize Alvarez to subpoena information from the hospital and its police untethered to any pending proceeding.”

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: