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Name: People v. Tatum
Case #: D051185
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/24/2008

The state’s failure to timely file a petition under the Mentally Disordered Offender Statute (Pen. Code, sec. 2960 et seq.) may implicate a due process violation for which dismissal can be a proper remedy. Penal Code sections 2960 et seq. allow for civil commitment of certain criminal offenders as a condition of parole, as well as commitment after the expiration of parole, with the latter involuntary commitment initiated by the filing of a petition by the prosecution, followed by a jury trial. The statute provides that the petition must be filed prior to the termination of commitment, and the trial must commence no later than 30 days prior to the time the person would have otherwise been released, subject to waiver or a finding of good cause. Whether a delay in the filing of the petition constitutes a due process violation is judged by the federal and state due process test for a claimed speedy trial violation; i.e., a balancing of any prejudicial effect of the delay against the justification for the delay. Here, the prosecution’s inexcusable negligence in the filing of the petition and delay in providing discovery to the defense, coupled with prejudice resulting from appellant’s continued confinement, resulted in a significant due process violation justifying dismissal of the petition.