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Calvin Leonard Sharp v. the Superior Court of Ventura County

January 18, 2011

CALVIN LEONARD SHARP, PETITIONER,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF VENTURA COUNTY, RESPONDENT; THE PEOPLE, REAL PARTY IN INTEREST.



Kevin G. DeNoce, Judge Superior Court County of Ventura (Super. Ct. No. 2008014330) (Ventura County)

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

In Verdin v. Superior Court (2008) 43 Cal.4th 1096 (Verdin), our Supreme Court held that the prosecution had no right to compel a mental examination of a defendant by a retained prosecution expert because such an examination is a form of discovery that is not authorized by statute or mandated by the Constitution. Here, we hold that a 2010 amendment to the California discovery law authorizes such a mental examination of a defendant who pleads not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). (Pen. Code,*fn1 § 1054.3, subd. (b), see also § 1027.)

Calvin Leonard Sharp petitions this court for a writ of mandate directing the superior court to vacate its order of January 25, 2010, granting the People's motion for a mental examination by a prosecution-retained expert. The People's motion was granted by the trial court pursuant to section 1054.3, subdivision (b)(1), a provision in the California discovery law which became effective on January 1, 2010 (section 1054.3(b).)*fn2 We issued an alternative writ and real party in interest filed a return.

Sharp contends that section 1054.3(b) does not apply to a determination of sanity, and that the trial court has no other authority to compel a mental examination by a prosecution-retained expert in a case where the defendant pleads NGRI. (§ 1027.) Sharp also claims section 1054.3(b) was improperly applied retrospectively, the trial court violated his constitutional rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments and the due process clause, and the court abused its discretion. We conclude that section 1054.3(b) applies to determinations of sanity under section 1027 and that Sharp's other contentions have no merit. Accordingly, we deny the writ.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In April 2008, Sharp was indicted for murder in the course of burglary and mayhem, two counts of attempted murder resulting in the infliction of great bodily injury, and other offenses. The offenses occurred in August 2007.

In March 2009, Sharp pleaded not guilty to the offenses and NGRI. Pursuant to section 1027, the trial court appointed two mental health experts, Drs. Susan Ferrant and Christina Griffin, to examine Sharp for the purpose of evaluating his sanity. Shortly thereafter, the court appointed Dr. Denise Jablonski-Kaye to replace Dr. Griffin. In June 2009, the court appointed Dr. Randy Wood pursuant to stipulation by the prosecution and defense.

In November 2009, Sharp withdrew his not guilty plea to the offenses, but the NGRI plea remained.*fn3 He waived his right to a jury trial on the issue of sanity.

In January 2010, the People filed a motion to compel Sharp to submit to a mental examination by Dr. Kris Mohandie, a mental health expert previously retained by the prosecution. The motion requested permission to administer certain enumerated tests and procedures, namely "The MMPI-2, the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms and a clinical interview."

On January 25, 2010, the trial court granted the People's motion (January 25, 2010, order). The court ruled that section 1054.3(b) applied to a determination of sanity after a plea of NGRI. The court also concluded that the People's motion was timely and did not violate Sharp's constitutional rights.

Sharp filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging the January 25, 2010 order which we denied without a hearing. Sharp filed a petition for review with the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case to this court with instructions to vacate our order denying Sharp's petition and direct the superior court to show cause why the writ should not be granted.

DISCUSSION

Construction and Application of Section 1054.3(b)

Section 1054.3(b) provides in part that "[u]nlessotherwise specifically addressed by an existing provision of law, whenever a defendant in a criminal action . . . places in issue his or her mental state at any phase of the criminal action . . . through the proposed testimony of any mental health expert, upon timely request by the prosecution, the court may order that the defendant . . . submit to examination by a prosecution-retained mental health expert." (Italics added.) The central issue on this appeal is whether the subject of court-ordered mental examinations by prosecution experts is "otherwise specifically addressed by" section 1027 which establishes a procedure for the appointment of mental health experts in insanity cases.

We conclude that the trial court's authority to order a mental health examination by an expert retained by the prosecution is not "specifically addressed" by section 1027. Accordingly, section 1054.3(b) authorizes a trial court to order a defendant who pleads NGRI to submit to a psychiatric examination by a prosecution-retained expert.

Section 1054.3(b) authorizes a trial court to order a defendant to "submit to examination by a prosecution-retained mental health expert" whenever a defendant "places in issue his or her mental state at any phase of the criminal action." (§ 1054.3, subd. (b)(1).) Section 1027 provides for the appointment of mental health experts to conduct mental examinations of a defendant who pleads NGRI, describes the content of written reports by the appointed experts, and obligates the experts if summoned to testify at the sanity trial.*fn4 Section 1027 does not permit, prohibit, or expressly consider the matter of mental health examinations by a "prosecution-retained mental health expert." But, section 1027 does permit the introduction of other evidence of a defendant's mental status, indicating that the procedures expressly provided in section 1027 are not intended to be the exclusive source of evidence in a sanity determination. (§ 1027, subd. (d).) As we shall explain, application of section 1054.3(b) to cases in which a NGRI plea has been entered advances the intent of section 1054.3(b), and is fully consistent with the language and purpose of section 1027.

The rules governing statutory interpretation are well established. The fundamental objective is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. (People v. Trevino (2001) 26 Cal.4th 237, 240.) If the words of a statute given their usual and ordinary meaning are clear and unambiguous, there is no further need for interpretation. (Id. at p. 241; People v. Woodhead (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1002, 1007.) If the statutory language is ambiguous, courts must adopt a construction of those words that best harmonizes the statute internally and with other related statutes. (People v. Ferrer (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 873, 880.) In so doing, courts ...


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