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Name: People v. Cobb
Case #: S159410
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/08/2010
Summary

Under the MDO Act (Pen. Code, sec. 2970), as with the NGI statute, deadlines are directory, rather than mandatory, and the court does not lose fundamental jurisdiction if the deadline for trial is not met.
Following his conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, appellant was committed to state hospital under the Mentally Disordered Offender Act (Pen. Code, sec. 2966, subd. (b)). The statute sets forth specific deadlines, including a trial on an extension term at least 30 days before the release date, absent good cause, but does not include a disclaimer that the deadlines are directory, as does the NGI statute. After numerous continuances over objection of appellant, along with a denial for release from custody, trial for extension was held in this case on June 19, despite the fact that his term expired May 27. The appellate court affirmed, finding that since appellant had previously been found to be an MDO, with all due process protections, trial on an extension merely required the prosecution to prove that he is still an MDO and, in light of same, there was no due process violation. The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that the appellate court analysis would render procedural safeguards of notice and timely trial as merely advisory. It then compared the MDO statute to the NGI statute and found that, absent waiver or good cause, if the trial to extend commitment does not commence before the current commitment ends, the defendant may be entitled to release pending the trial. If a petition to extend commitment is not filed prior to the release date, defendant is no longer under the restraint of the statute. Because appellant here ultimately received a fair trial, following timely filing of the petition, no relief is available.