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Name: People v. Superior Court (Butler)
Case #: H021486
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/18/2000
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 1/10/01

Butler and Cheek were committed as sexually violent predators (SVP) and committed to the custody of the State Department of Mental Health (DMH) for two years. Before their commitments expired, the district attorney filed a petition to extend the commitments, supported by one current evaluation from a DMH psychologist. The appellate court held that the petitions should have been dismissed because DMH failed to conduct a “full evaluation” involving two psych evaluations. (Butler II) Before the opinion in Butler II was final, the district attorney filed new petitions to extend Butler and Cheek’s commitments, supported by two psychological evaluations. The trial court dismissed the original petitions for extended commitment. In Butler’s case, the trial court also dismissed the new petition and ordered Butler released. In Cheek’s case, it refused to dismiss and release. The prosecution sought relief in Butler, and Cheek likewise sought a petition for writ of mandate. In this opinion, the court concluded that the trial court erred by dismissing the prosecution’s new petition for extended commitment in Butler, and properly refused to dismiss in Cheek. The trial court had dismissed the petition in Butler II on procedural grounds, not on the merits for insufficiency of evidence. No opinion was expressed regarding whether there was probable cause to believe that Butler and Cheek were “likely to engage in sexually violent predatory behavior upon (their) release.” Therefore, since probable cause had already been found in the original proceeding, and the subsequent dismissal was based on a defective petition, new extension petitions were appropriate. There was no statutory defense to the filing of a new petition for extended commitment. The trial court had jurisdiction, and the petition was not barred by principles of res judicata.