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Name: People v. Quiroz
Case #: C069280
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/23/2016
Summary

Trial court does not have authority to convene a competency hearing after the state hospital has found there is no substantial likelihood of restoration of competency. In 2008, a trial court found Quiroz incompetent to stand trial for assault with a deadly weapon and committed him to the state hospital for treatment. In 2010, the state hospital submitted its report stating Quiroz was still incompetent, was unlikely to regain competency in the foreseeable future, and recommended that conservatorship proceedings be initiated. The public guardian declined to file a conservatorship petition. Thereafter, the trial court held a competency hearing, found Quiroz’s competency had been restored, and reinstated criminal proceedings. Quiroz pled no contest to the charges. He obtained a certificate of probable cause and appealed. Held: Reversed and remanded. If a defendant remains committed due to incompetency, he must be returned to court after either three years or the maximum period of imprisonment for the most serious charged offense, whichever is shorter. If it appears the accused is “gravely disabled” because he remains incompetent for trial and is still dangerous, the court must order the commencement of conservatorship proceedings. If the defendant remains incompetent but is not a dangerous, the court must release him from confinement. (People v. Waterman (1986) 42 Cal.3d 565, 568.) The trial court, however, has no authority to convene a competency hearing before initiating conservatorship proceedings or releasing the defendant. The Legislature provided for competency hearings in many circumstances, but not in the circumstance presented by this case. (See Pen. Code, §§ 1368, 1370, subd. (b)(4), 1372, subd. (c).) The Court of Appeal rejected dictum to the contrary in Conservatorship of Hofferber (1980) 28 Cal.3d 161, 176-177.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C069280.PDF