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In re Mille

March 3, 2010

IN RE FREDDY MILLE, ON HABEAS CORPUS.


ORIGINAL PROCEEDINGS in habeas corpus. Maria E. Stratton, Judge. Order to show cause discharged; petition denied. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. Nos. BA354031 & ZM014664).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Klein, P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Petitioner Freddy Mille (Mille) seeks a writ of habeas corpus, challenging the 84-day delay in transferring him from the Los Angeles County Jail (county jail) to Patton State Hospital (Patton), in neighboring San Bernardino County, after the superior court ordered the Los Angeles County Sheriff (sheriff) to transport Mille from the county jail to Patton for evaluation and treatment. (Pen. Code, §1370.)*fn1

Once a trial court finds a defendant mentally incompetent to stand trial and orders the defendant committed to a state mental hospital for care and treatment to restore competence to stand trial, the state mental hospital has 90 days to make a written report to the court concerning the defendant's progress toward recovery of mental competence. (§ 1370, subd. (b)(1).)

A "person charged by a State with a criminal offense who is committed solely on account of his incapacity to proceed to trial cannot be held more than the reasonable period of time necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that he will attain that capacity in the foreseeable future." (Jackson v. Indiana (1972) 406 U.S. 715, 738 [32 L.Ed.2d 435] (Jackson), italics added; accord In re Davis (1973) 8 Cal.3d 798, 801 (Davis).)

Here, following the commitment order, Mille was kept in the county jail for 84 days before the sheriff transferred him to Patton for evaluation and treatment. The fact the county jail administered antipsychotic medication to Mille while he was housed there, pursuant to section 1369.1, was not a substitute for a timely transfer to Patton for evaluation and treatment to restore Mille's competence to stand trial.

The sheriff's failure to transfer Mille was first called to the attention of the trial court 30 days after the commitment order, when the public defender filed the initial petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging Mille's prolonged confinement in the county jail. We conclude, minimally, instead of denying Mille's initial petition for writ of habeas corpus, filed June 3, 2009, the trial court should have ordered the sheriff to deliver Mille promptly to Patton for evaluation and treatment. (In re Stoliker (1957) 49 Cal.2d 75, 78 [habeas corpus is proper remedy to secure confinement under proper authority].) Likewise, on the facts presented, this court should have granted the habeas petition which Mille filed in this court on June 26, 2009, and directed Mille's immediate transfer to Patton.

Mille is no longer in the custody of the county jail or the sheriff, having been transferred eventually to Patton for examination and treatment pursuant to section 1370. Therefore, he has received the relief he requested in the petition for writ of habeas corpus which he filed in this court, rendering said request for a writ of habeas corpus moot. (In re Walters (1975) 15 Cal.3d 738, 743.)

Nonetheless, "[w]here questions of general public concern are involved, particularly in the area of the supervision of the administration of criminal justice, we may reject mootness as a bar to a decision on the merits. [Citations.] Furthermore, habeas corpus is an appropriate procedure for disposing of the present case since it can be used by petitioner to obtain a declaration of rights in the prevailing circumstances. [Citations.]" (In re Walters, supra, 15 Cal.3d at p. 744, fn. omitted.) While the questions presented herein are likely to recur, each case could become moot before we could have acted upon it. Consequently, we consider Mille's case an appropriate vehicle for addressing the issues presented herein. (Ibid.)

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The felony complaint, filed March 16, 2009, consisted of one count of attempted kidnapping of a victim under the age of 14 with an allegation of a prior conviction of burglary.

On April 20, 2009, prior to the preliminary hearing, defense counsel declared a doubt as to Mille's competence. (§ 1368, subd. (b).)

On May 4, 2009, following a hearing, the trial court found Mille mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered him committed to the Department of Mental Health (the Department) for placement at Patton. (§ 1370.) The trial court remanded Mille to the custody of the sheriff for transportation to Patton. The trial court did not specify a date by which that was to occur.

On June 3, 2009, thirty days having elapsed since the commitment order, Mille, represented by the public defender, filed a petition in the superior court for writ of habeas corpus. Mille alleged he was being unlawfully confined in the county jail for a "statutorily and constitutionally impermissible length of time" following his commitment. The petition alleged Mille was receiving "no treatment beyond, possibly, medication, and that no examination is being made to determine whether it is substantially likely that [he] will regain competence in the foreseeable future." The petition asserted Mille "is being deprived of the right to prompt treatment in the facility to which [he] had been committed, and the right to an immediate examination to determine the likelihood of [his] future recovery."

On June 22, 2009, the superior court issued an order denying the petition without prejudice. The superior court stated: "Although it is regrettable that Petitioner has to spend any time in the County Jail without treatment after being committed as incompetent to stand trial, the court is mindful that it takes time to arrange admission and effectuate transportation to Patton State Hospital, which is located in another county some distance from the City of Los Angeles. It has been barely one month since commitment. Under the circumstances, the court does not believe that a one-month delay violates the Constitution of the State of California or the United States of America."*fn2

On June 26, 2009, Mille filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this court, reiterating the grounds he asserted in his initial petition in the superior court.

On July 9, 2009, this court summarily denied the petition without prejudice.

On July 10, 2009, Mille filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court.

The California Supreme Court requested the state Attorney General to answer the petition on or before July 27, 2009. On July 27, 2009, the sheriff transported Mille to Patton. That same day, the Attorney General filed an answer to the petition for ...


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