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People v. Castillo

May 24, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JAVIER CASTILLO, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



Ct.App. 2/5 No. B202289 Los Angeles County Super. Ct. Nos. ZM009280, ZM006562, & ZM004837. Judge: Stephen A. Marcus.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: George, C. J.

We granted review to determine whether the Court of Appeal erred by modifying the term of appellant's civil commitment as a sexually violent predator from two years - the term agreed to by the Los Angeles County District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Public Defender, and the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, pursuant to a signed stipulation - to an indeterminate term, as provided by Proposition 83's amendments to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6604. We reverse the judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal, and enforce the stipulation.

I.

A.

In 1985, Javier Castillo was convicted of two counts of committing lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 years by use of force, violence, or fear (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (b)), and was sentenced to a six-year term in state prison. In 1992, he was convicted of an additional charge of committing lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 years (id., subd. (a)), and was sentenced to an eight-year term in prison. Thereafter, in October 1999, Castillo was committed to Coalinga State Hospital as a sexually violent predator (SVP) as defined under the Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA) (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 6600-6609.3; see generally Hubbart v. Superior Court (1999) 19 Cal.4th 1138, 1143, 1147 [confirming the constitutionality of the SVPA as a civil commitment program]).*fn1

In August 2001, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (District Attorney) filed a petition seeking to extend Castillo's commitment for a two-year period. (Welf. & Inst. Code, former § 6604, added by Stats. 1995, ch. 763, § 3, pp. 5925-5926 [setting forth a two-year term for extension of commitment].) Apparently, Castillo, through his counsel, stipulated to continuance of trial on the commitment extension, and no such trial was held. Thereafter, in October 2003, the District Attorney filed a second petition to extend Castillo's commitment for another successive two-year period. Again, apparently, trial on the commitment extension was continued, and no trial was held. Eventually, the two cases were consolidated. Subsequently, in September 2005, the District Attorney filed a third petition to extend Castillo's commitment for yet another successive two-year period, to October 5, 2007. In January 2006, the three cases were consolidated for belated trial.

B.

By mid-April 2006, the initiative measure subsequently denominated Proposition 83 (The Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act: Jessica's Law) had qualified for the November 2006 ballot. That measure proposed to amend the SVPA, and other related statutes, in numerous and wide-ranging ways. (See Voter Information Guide, Gen. Elec. (Nov. 7, 2006) analysis by Legis. Analyst of Prop. 83, pp. 43-44, id., text of Prop. 83, at pp. 127-138.) As relevant here, Proposition 83 proposed to adopt the approach followed by all other states with SVP civil commitment laws, by providing that a person found to be an SVP would be involuntarily committed, not for a term of two years, but instead indefinitely. (Voter Information Guide, text of Prop. 83 § 2, subd. (k), at p. 127, id., § 27, at p. 137 [describing the indeterminate-term procedures of other states]; id., §27, at p. 137 [setting forth an indeterminate term, in revised § 6004].) Even before Proposition 83 officially qualified for the ballot, but in light of that impending initiative measure, Senate Bill No. 1128 (2005-2006 Reg. Sess.), the Sex Offender Punishment, Control, and Containment Act of 2006 (Senate Bill No. 1128), was introduced in the Legislature as urgency legislation - meaning that if passed by both houses of the Legislature by a two-thirds vote, it would become effective upon signature of the Governor, prior to the November election. As amended in early March 2006, Senate Bill No. 1128 proposed numerous amendments to various statutes and to the existing SVPA, including the change described immediately above: it proposed to provide that a person found to be an SVP be committed, not for a term of two years, but indefinitely. (Sen. Bill No. 1128, § 63, as amended Mar. 7, 2009, pp. 104-105.)

The Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 1128, and the Governor signed it as urgency legislation, effective September 20, 2006, thereby amending the SVPA in the same manner then proposed by Proposition 83 - that is, providing for indefinite commitment of a person determined to be an SVP. (Stats. 2006, ch. 337, § 55 [amending § 6004].)*fn2

As recently observed in People v. Taylor (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 920, 933 (Taylor), the SVPA, as amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 and subsequently by Proposition 83, "is not a model of legislative drafting." Neither Senate Bill No. 1128, nor Proposition 83, amended section 6601, subdivision (a)(2) of the SVPA. That subdivision, which expressly authorizes the commitment of persons who are "in custody" pursuant to a prison term, a parole revocation term, or a temporary custody "hold" pending further evaluation, specifies who may be committed for treatment by the State Department of Mental Health in a manner that implicitly excludes those persons who currently are committed as SVP's.*fn3 Moreover, nowhere in the statutes as amended by Senate Bill No. 1128, and subsequently by Proposition 83, is there any mention of recommitment petitions - that is, proceedings to extend the terms of individuals currently committed as SVP's; both Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83 were silent concerning the applicability of these measures to petitions pending on the date those changes became effective. Indeed, both Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83 amended former section 6604 to delete any reference to recommitments or extension of commitments, or related procedures.*fn4 As a result, after the 2006 amendments enacted by Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83, the SVPA no longer contains any express statutory provision authorizing recommitment of a person previously committed to the State Department of Mental Health for treatment as an SVP.

C.

On October 11, 2006, the District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Public Defender (Public Defender), and the Los Angeles County Superior Court entered into a stipulation. It read as follows:

"On September 20, 2006 Senate Bill 1128, urgency legislation, was signed into law by the Governor. Additionally a ballot initiative commonly known as 'Jessica's Law' is on the ballot in November of 2006. The legislation and the initiative include language which would lengthen the term of commitment for a SVP from two years to an indeterminate term. Due to uncertainty in the retroactive application of this change, it is the intention of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to apply the current[*fn5 ] two year commitment period to all currently pending initial commitment petitions, as limited below, for cases in which the trial and commitment occur after the effective date of the legislation or the initiative[,] whichever occurs first, hereafter 'effective date.' For all cases in which an initial commitment petition is filed after the effective date of the legislation, the District Attorney's office will seek the indeterminate term.

"24 Month Time Limit

"The District Attorney's Office will apply the two year commitment period to pending initial petitions for 24 months after the effective date. For cases in which the initial order of commitment is issued 24 months or more after the effective date, the District Attorney's Office will seek an indeterminate commitment. The Public Defender's Office does not waive its right to challenge either SB1128 or 'Jessica's Law,' assuming that the latter is passed in November 2006.

"Recommitment Petitions

"For SVPs who have been committed and currently have a pending re-commitment petition for an extended commitment, the District Attorney's Office will file additional petitions for extended commitments as they become timely pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code § 6604.1. The District Attorney's office will use the filing criteria and commitment period in effect at the time of filing the re-commitment petitions. If a pending 2 year re-commitment petition filed prior to the effective date of the bill and/or initiative has not been tried prior to the expiration of the two-year commitment period and a new petition is timely filed after the effective date, the District Attorney's Office will pursue an indeterminate term.

"Evaluation Criteria

"Cases which are pending for initial commitment or are evaluated for re-commitment prior to the effective date of the legislation and/or initiative will be evaluated based upon criteria currently present in the SVP statutes. Any initial petition or re-commitment petition filed on or after the effective date of the legislation and/or initiative will be evaluated based upon the language of the legislation or initiative as passed.

"Tolling of Parole

"Provisions of the legislation tolling the period of parole until after the SVP completes the term of commitment or recommitment will be applied to a pending petition immediately following the effective date which might result from the passage of either legislation or the initiative." (Italics added.)

The stipulation concluded: "Because it is impossible to predict all implications of the legislation and initiative, it is not the intent of this agreement to address all potential issues involving changes in the law. [¶] A copy of this agreement is to be filed in every SVP case in which a petition or re-petition is pending prior to the effective date of the legislation and/or initiative." The document was signed by Jane Blissert as "Representative - District Attorney," Robert A. Fefferman as "Representative - Public Defender," and David Wesley as "Judge of the Superior Court." It was dated October 11, 2006.

The stipulation affected scores of persons who were facing an SVP trial and who were represented by the Public Defender. On October 31, 2006 - a week prior to the November election, at which the voters would consider whether to enact Proposition 83 - the parties in this case filed a stipulation identical to the one described immediately above.

At the November 2006 General Election, the voters adopted Proposition 83, which, as stated earlier (and as relevant here), enacted the same changes to sections 6604 and 6604.1 that had been made by Senate Bill No. 1128.*fn6

D.

The jury trial to determine whether Castillo continued to qualify as an SVP during the three two-year periods commencing in October 2001 finally began in late July 2007.*fn7 Because the facts adduced at trial are not relevant to the issues presented on this appeal, we note simply that the evidence recounted Castillo's history of illegal sexual activities involving children, and showed that, throughout his SVP commitment, Castillo essentially refused treatment and remained focused upon creating numerous photographic collages of children - items that he hid within the covers of magazines. Two psychologists testified that Castillo suffered from "exclusive" pedophilia, meaning that he did not engage in age-appropriate sexual activity and was sexually attracted to both male and female children, and that he posed a high risk of violently reoffending if released.

On August 10, 2007, the jury returned a verdict sustaining the People's "petition alleging that . . . Javier Castillo has a currently diagnosed mental disorder and that this disorder makes him a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely ...


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