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Name: People v. Johndrow
Case #: C055620
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/01/2009
Subsequent History: rev. granted 9/16/09 (S175337)

Commitment as an SVP for an indeterminate term is not a denial of due process. Appellant was committed to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) for an indeterminate term as a sexually violent predator (SVP) subject to the limited review in Welfare and Institutions Code sections 6605 and 6608. On appeal, he contended that those sections violated his right to due process. He argued that section 6605 denies due process because it leaves the determination of whether to authorize the person to file a petition in the absolute discretion of DMH without any judicial review. He challenged section 6608 because the person is not entitled to the assistance of an expert and bears the burden of proof at hearings. The appellate court rejected both arguments. Although the decision of DMH is not subject to judicial review, the person may petition the court directly with the assistance of assigned counsel. Although a petitioner is not entitled to an expert to assist him under section 6608, he is entitled to an annual evaluation and report prepared by a qualified professional. Placing the burden of proof on the person to prove that he is entitled to release is not a denial of due process. The person has already been found to be an SVP, and he is the one asserting the change entitling him to release. The court also rejected a challenge based on equal protection principles, as it has not been shown that SVPs are similarly situated with MDOs and NGIs.