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Name: People v. Superior Court (Smith)
Case #: S225562
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/13/2018

The district attorney prosecuting a civil commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) may access treatment records supporting an updated or replacement expert report about the individual's suitability for designation as an SVP. The prosecution filed a petition to commit Smith as an SVP. Attached to the petition were evaluations by two mental health experts designated by the State Department of State Hospitals (SDSH) to examine Smith. Later, the prosecutor requested an updated evaluation and a replacement evaluation, and an order permitting his expert to review the SDSH evaluations and medical records on which the evaluations were based. The…

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Name: People v. Superior Court (Vasquez)
Case #: B287946
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 09/12/2018

Trial court properly dismissed SVP petition for violation of defendant's right to speedy trial based on 17-year delay caused by "systemic breakdown in the public defender system," which was attributable to the state. In 1995 Vasquez was convicted of sex offenses against minors. Prior to his release in 2000, the prosecution filed a petition to commit him as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP). Vasquez was confined in state hospitals for over 17 years awaiting trial on the petition. A series of public defenders failed to move the case forward. Beginning in 2014, serious cutbacks in the public defender's funding and…

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Name: People v. Yates
Case #: B279863
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/23/2018

Under People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, an expert may not relate as true the case-specific contents of documents that were neither admitted into evidence nor shown to fall within a hearsay exception. A jury found Yates to be a sexually violent predator (SVP) (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 6600, et seq.). On appeal, he argued the trial court admitted prejudicial hearsay evidence used to support the prosecution experts' opinions. Held: Reversed. An alleged SVP is entitled to a jury trial where the prosecution is required to establish (1) that defendant has been convicted of a qualifying sexually violent…

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Name: People v. Golden
Case #: F072710
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/28/2017

A person confined in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital under the Sexually Violent Predators Act does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his dormitory room within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Defendant, a sexually violent predator (SVP), was committed to Coalinga State Hospital (CHS). During a search of his dormitory based on a tip from another SVP, child pornography was found. He was charged with possession of child pornography by a registered sex offender (Pen. Code, § 311.11, subd. (b)). Prior to trial, he moved to suppress the evidence found during the search, arguing that he had…

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Name: In re Snyder
Case #: C082275
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/09/2017

State Department of Hospitals (SDH) improperly "undesignated" psychologist who performed SVP evaluation based on its internal quality assurance process, contrary to the mandates of Welfare and Institutions Code section 6601. A few months before his scheduled release from prison, Snyder, who had been convicted of sexual offenses, was referred by the Board of Parole Hearings to the SDH for an SVP evaluation. One of the two doctors designated to evaluate Snyder found he was not an SVP, but the report she drafted did not meet SDH's minimum quality standards. Concerned the report could not be correct in time, SDH "undesignated"…

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Name: People v. Roa
Case #: B264885
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/02/2017

Reversal of commitment as a sexually violent predator (SVP) required under People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665 where court allowed experts to relate inadmissible case-specific hearsay contained in district attorney investigation reports. A jury found that Roa was an SVP and he was committed to the state hospital for an indeterminate term. To establish Roa had the requisite mental disorder, prosecution experts testified that they diagnosed Roa with a number of disorders, including sexual sadism and paraphilic disorder. The experts were permitted, over Roa's hearsay and due process objections, to testify that their diagnoses were based, in part, on…

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Name: People v. Burroughs
Case #: B267353
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 12/05/2016

Indefinite sexually violent predator (SVP) commitment reversed where trial court prejudicially allowed the prosecution expert to relate substantial amounts of inadmissible hearsay. Appellant was committed to the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) for an indefinite term as an SVP. He appealed, arguing he was prejudiced by the admission of inadmissible hearsay evidence during the testimony of a prosecution expert. Held: Reversed. In SVP cases, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant previously committed a sexually violent offense and currently suffers from a mental disorder that renders it likely he will commit a sexually violent offense in…

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Name: People v. Wright
Case #: B269705
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/24/2016

Commitment as a sexually violent predator (SVP) reversed where sole evidence that defendant suffered from a requisite mental disorder was an expert's flawed testimony. Wright was committed as an SVP after his conviction for oral copulation of a child under 18. He had three prior convictions for committing lewd acts on 14 and 15 year olds. To prove that Wright had a diagnosed mental disorder that made it likely he would engage in sexually violent criminal behavior, the prosecutor admitted expert testimony that Wright probably had hebephilia, i.e., sexual arousal interest in pubescent age children. The expert conceded that children…

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Name: People v. White
Case #: B267529
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 09/19/2016

"Sexually violent criminal behavior" as used in the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) is broader than "sexually violent offense" and includes forcible acts of sexual battery committed during frotteuristic episodes. After a bench trial, the trial court found White to be an SVP. White had previously been convicted of assault to commit rape and a series of sexual batteries arising from frotteuristic episodes (rubbing his erect penis against strangers). White appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by reasoning that the term "sexually violent criminal behavior" was broader than "sexually violent offense" and therefore applied to sexual batteries even…

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Name: People v. Putney
Case #: A142012
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/27/2016

Trial court acted in excess of jurisdiction by issuing a sexually violent predator (SVP) recommitment order while the defendant was serving a life Three Strikes sentence in another case. In 1991, Putney pleaded no contest to three counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14. After serving his prison term, he was committed as an SVP. In 2007, the prosecution filed a petition to extend his commitment. The SVP trial was continued a number of times, in part because there were criminal charges pending against Putney in another case. Ultimately, Putney pleaded no contest in the…

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