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Name: People v. Poulsom
Case #: D060779
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/31/2013

Appellant’s behavior on parole was sufficient to support jury’s sexually violent predator (SVP) finding despite earlier contrary finding. In 2007, a jury found Poulsom did not qualify as an SVP. After two subsequent parole violations the prosecutor filed another SVP petition. The jury found the allegations true and Poulsom was committed for an indefinite term. In the published portion of the opinion, the appellate court held substantial evidence supported the jury’s verdict. Because the jury at Poulsom’s 2007 SVP trial did not make the requisite findings, the jury in this proceeding had to find that circumstances had materially changed since then, which made Poulsom likely to reoffend if released from custody. Poulsom argued there was insufficient evidence of changed circumstances. In rejecting this argument, the court distinguished this case from Turner v. Superior Court (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 1046. In Turner, the experts did not acknowledge the prior jury finding. Here, both experts specifically acknowledged Turner and the need to find changed circumstances after the 2007 trial. The experts relied on post-2007 facts to explain why their opinions had changed. Further, there was sufficient evidence that Poulsom currently lacked the ability to control his behavior as evidenced by his parole violations, which involved failure to participate in treatment and placing himself in risky situations where children could be present.

Each party was entitled to six peremptory challenges under Code of Civil Procedure section 231, subdivision (c), rather than the 20 challenges provided for in criminal cases potentially resulting in a life sentence. The court rejected Poulsom’s argument he was entitled to 20 peremptory challenges as opposed to the six challenges provided for in civil proceedings, following the holding of People v. Calhoun (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 519.