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Gilbert v. Superior Court (The People)

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

February 6, 2014

CHAKA GILBERT, Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Respondent THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.

ORIGINAL PROCEEDINGS petition for writ of mandate. Super. Ct. No. FSBSS032062 Steve Malone, Judge.

Phyllis K. Morris, Public Defender, and David McClave, Deputy Public Defender, for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent.

Michael A. Ramos, District Attorney, and Eric M. Ferguson, Deputy District Attorney, for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

MILLER J.

INTRODUCTION

Real party in interest (the People) seek to commit petitioner as a sexually violent predator (SVP) pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600[1] (the Sexually Violent Predators Act) (SVPA).

Petitioner was evaluated by Drs. Romanoff and Updegrove in September 2001, and the trial court found probable cause in October 2001.

Both doctors prepared updated evaluations in 2006 and again in December 2009. Another probable cause hearing was held in October 2010, and the trial court again found probable cause.

Petitioner was sent to Coalinga State Hospital (CSH) prior to trial. Trial has been continued numerous times and is currently set for March 2014.

The People served a subpoena duces tecum (SDT) on CSH seeking virtually all of petitioner’s records, including, among other documents, his medical and psychological reports, interdisciplinary logs and notes, registered nurse and social worker notes, trust account records, and visitor logs.

Petitioner moved to quash the SDT on the ground that his treatment records are confidential and privileged, and contending that the People may only access this information to the extent it is contained in an updated mental evaluation.

The trial court denied the motion to quash, except with respect to documents pertaining to petitioner’s trust account and visitor records. It did not address whether these records were privileged, but found that the SDT was inadequate to support discovery of those specified documents.

In announcing its decision, the trial court began by distinguishing proceedings under the SVPA from similar proceedings under the Mentally Disordered Offender (MDO) law. While the issue before the court in MDO cases is the dangerousness of the defendant at the time of the parole hearing, it noted that this is not the case in SVP cases, where the current dangerousness of the defendant at the time of trial is the dispositive question. Thus, the court reasoned, that both sides need to present up-to-date information of petitioner’s current condition; the only way to do this is ...


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