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Name: People v. Martinez
Case #: H021193
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/11/2001
Subsequent History: Modif. of opn. at 88 Cal.App.4th 1267a; Rev. den. 7/25/01
Summary

The court rejected the claim that the prosecutor’s review of defendant’s psychological records concerning medication and treatment at Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) 15 years earlier, done in the course of a Sexually Violent Predator Act prosecution, violated the defendant’s state constitutional right to privacy. The SVPA makes psychological records, especially those generated at ASH, relevant in determining whether a prisoner qualifies as an SVP. Defendant signed written consent forms for both evaluations of him done in the SVP initial proceedings. Thus, his expectation of privacy in them and the records relied on to perform the evaluations, was greatly reduced. Additionally, the minimal intrusion was justified by the compelling public interests behind the SVPA and the prosecutor’s duty to make an independent and informed decision concerning whether to file a petition. Finally, even if a constitutional violation of the right to privacy occurred, the court rejected the claim that the error was structural and reversible per se. Here the examination of the records by the prosecutor was harmless, since the information was available in summary form in the SVP reports. The court also rejected the contention that the use of reports by his former treating psychotherapists violated the psychotherapist-patient privilege. The court also rejected that various evidence of other misconduct (including charged and uncharged offenses) constituted inadmissible hearsay. As to some of the evidence there was no objection, so the argument was waived. As to the admission of documentary evidence of a 1989 conviction for oral copulation, defendant conceded that information was properly admitted for the non-hearsay purpose of revealing the bases for the doctors’ reports under the SVPA. Even if the court had considered the evidence for its truth, it was harmless error. The court would have reached the conclusion that defendant qualified as an SVP anyway.