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Right to Refuse to Testify at Extension Hearing

Petition for review after the Court of Appeal granted a petition for peremptory writ of mandate. This case presents the following issue: Does Penal Code section 1026.5, subdivision (b)(7), give a person who was committed after being found not guilty of criminal charges by reason of insanity the right to refuse to testify in a proceeding to extend that civil commitment?

Held: A person found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) who is facing a commitment extension hearing has a statutory right to refuse to testify in the People's case-in-chief. Hudec was found NGI of killing his father in 1981, and was committed to a state hospital for a maximum term reflecting the sentence for voluntary manslaughter. In 2012, the prosecutor filed a petition to extend Hudec's commitment under Penal Code section 1026.5. The trial court denied Hudec's motion to preclude his compelled testimony as a prosecution witness. The Court of Appeal issued a writ of mandate, directing the superior court not to compel Hudec's testimony. The California Supreme Court granted the prosecution's petition for review to determine whether an individual facing extended commitment has the right to refuse to testify. Held: Court of Appeal judgment affirmed. Section 1026.5, subdivision (b)(7) provides that a person facing NGI commitment extension proceedings "shall be entitled to the rights guaranteed under the federal and State Constitutions for criminal proceedings. All proceedings shall be in accordance with applicable constitutional guarantees." After reviewing the historical development of section 1026.5, related statutes, and prior decisions, the Court concluded that section 1026.5 provides a respondent with a statutory right not to testify at his or her NGI commitment extension hearing. Although appellate courts have restricted the rights included under section 1026.5, subdivision (b)(7), none of those possible restrictions justifies excluding the right not to testify against oneself. Recognizing the application of the right to refuse to testify in the prosecutor's case-in-chief does not result in any absurd consequence. The court disapproved People v. Lopez (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 1099 to the extent it is inconsistent with the holding in this case. (Hudec v. Superior Court (2015) 60 Cal.4th 815 (S213003).) This case was decided on 1/4/2015.

Updated: 1/4/2015

Return to: California Supreme Court Archived Issues.

 

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