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Name: Tyrone B. v. Superior Court
Case #: C058142
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/24/2008

Where counsel expresses doubt as to a minor’s competency to stand trial, the juvenile court may not defer appointment of an expert. During the detention hearing on a petition charging the minor with a violation of Penal Code section 288, subdivision (b)(1), his counsel expressed doubt as to the minor’s competency to assist in the proceedings and asked for appointment of an expert to evaluate the minor. The court deferred the appointment of an expert until after a settlement conference and fitness hearing. The appellate court granted a writ directing the juvenile court to vacate its ruling. The juvenile court erred by deferring its decision and failing to appoint an expert pursuant to rule 5.645 to examine the minor’s competency. Counsel’s recitation of petitioner’s inability to understand the proceedings and request for reconsideration upon new information that the minor was schizophrenic and bipolar provided ample justification for the appointment of an expert to examine him before any further proceedings which required cooperation with counsel.