Commitment order of mentally disordered offender (MDO) reversed where expert’s testimony violated People v. Sanchez. The Board of Parole Hearings determined Lin was an MDO and committed him to the State Department of Hospitals for involuntary treatment. (Pen. Code, § 2962.) Lin contested this determination. During his court trial, forensic psychologist Dr. Mathews testified she attempted to interview Lin on two occasions regarding the MDO requirements, but the interviews were terminated after several minutes. Based on her review of Lin’s medical records, progress reports, and other records, as well as consultation with Lin’s treating psychologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Mathews opined Lin met the MDO criteria. Based solely on Dr. Mathews’ testimony, the court determined Lin met the MDO requirements and had him committed. On appeal, Lin argued Dr. Matthews’ testimony violated People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665 and due process. Held: Reversed. People v. Sanchez held that an expert’s hearsay statements to prove a defendant’s gang membership were inadmissible hearsay. This holding applies equally to cases involving MDOs. An expert witness may not relate as true case specific facts asserted in hearsay statements, unless they are independently proven by competent evidence or are covered by a hearsay exception. Here, Lin walked out of his interview with Dr. Mathews, depriving her of the opportunity to make an independent evaluation. During her testimony, she related multiple case-specific hearsay statements that were not independently proven by competent evidence, in violation of Sanchez. As a result, there was no competent evidence Lin met the MDO requirements.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B278102.PDF