Skip to content
Name: People v. LaBlanc
Case #: E059589
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/22/2015
Summary

Trial court abused its discretion by finding sexually violent predator’s (SVP) petition for unconditional discharge to be frivolous and by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing. LaBlanc, who is serving an indeterminate SVP civil commitment, petitioned for unconditional discharge (Welf. & Inst. Code, former section § 6608, subd. (a)). He supported his petition with a report by a psychologist who concluded that LaBlanc did not have a diagnosed mental disorder that rendered him a danger to others if released (see Welf. & Inst. Code, § 6600, subd. (a)(1)). The psychologist based this conclusion, in part, on (1) debate concerning the validity of LaBlanc’s diagnosis of paraphilic coercive disorder, and (2) her determination that LaBlanc was less likely to reoffend due to the passage of time, his age (LaBlanc was 70 years old), and his serious medical conditions. The trial court summarily denied the petition as frivolous. LaBlanc appealed. Held: Reversed and remanded for evidentiary hearing. The SVP Act provides for the indefinite commitment of those defendants found to be an SVP. When LaBlanc filed his petition, former section 6608 provided that an SVP could petition for conditional release or unconditional discharge. However, when a petition for unconditional discharge is based on frivolous grounds, the trial court must summarily deny it. Here, the trial court found the petition frivolous because the jury had found LaBlanc to be an SVP beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the jury did not necessarily decide whether LaBlanc’s diagnosis was valid, and there is currently a degree of controversy regarding the validity of paraphilic coercive disorder. Further, LaBlanc made a colorable showing that he was unlikely to reengage in sexually violent behavior based on the passage of time, his aging, and his poor health. Thus, LaBlanc’s petition was not frivolous. LaBlanc’s refusal to participate in sex offender treatment did not require the court to dismiss the petition as frivolous.