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Conservatorship of John D.

California Court of Appeal, Third District

March 4, 2014

John D., Objector and Appellant. James D. Livingston, as Acting Public Guardian, etc., Petitioner and Respondent,


APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Shasta County, Cara Beatty, Judge. Affirmed in part and reversed in part. (Super. Ct. No. 10LPSQ0003486).

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Paul Bernstein, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Objector and Appellant.

Rubin E. Cruse, Jr., County Counsel, Adam M. Pressman, Deputy County Counsel, for Petitioner and Respondent.

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John D. appeals from a judgment appointing a Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act conservator of his person. He also appeals the imposition of special disabilities in the letters of conservatorship, denying him the privilege of possessing a driver's license, the right to enter into contracts and the right to possess a firearm. He contends there is not substantial evidence supporting the finding that he cannot provide for his basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, nor is there evidence supporting the imposition of the special disabilities on his right to enter into contracts, drive and possess firearms. John further contends the trial court erred in requiring him to pay jury fees.

In the published portion of this opinion, we conclude that the trial court erred in ordering John to pay jury fees because there is no statutory authority for such fees.

In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we conclude that the finding of grave disability and the imposition of special disabilities is supported by substantial evidence.

We reverse the jury fee order. In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.


Trial Evidence

John has a longstanding history of mental illness. He was conserved for three years in 2005 in Los Angeles County. John was again placed under conservatorship in 2009, this time in Shasta County. In 2009, John had five psychiatric hospitalizations, each the result of John not taking his medication after being discharged.

         Dr. John Mahoney, a Shasta County Mental Health clinical psychologist, examined and evaluated John on a number of occasions and diagnosed him with schizophrenia, paranoid subtype. As a result of his mental illness, John experiences disorganized thoughts and behaviors, hallucinations, and delusions, including delusions that he is employed as an agent for various law enforcement agencies. In the course of each hospitalization, while medicated, John would stabilize in the hospital and be released. Each time, after he was

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discharged, he stopped taking his medication and within two to three weeks would be suffering from acute psychotic symptoms.

In August 2010, Dr. Mahoney recommended taking John off the conservatorship, because he appeared to be doing very well. Although he still had delusions, it did not seem to Dr. Mahoney that the delusions would interfere with John's ability to live independently. Furthermore, John had changed a living plan from an unrealistic plan of going to Mexico to drive a truck to a more realistic plan to remain in town at a local hotel, the Lorenz,[1] and let the STAR team [2] assist him with his needs.

Around August 2010, Manuel Ramirez, a deputy public guardian for Shasta County, began working with John to transition off conservatorship to independent living. John's conservatorship was going to terminate at the end of October 2010. John was consistently taking his medication, following facility rules [3] and attending drug and alcohol abuse meetings. Although he continued to talk about being involved in law enforcement, at the time the delusions appeared harmless as he was otherwise following all the facility rules. Ramirez testified that in hindsight, the delusions were sufficient to maintain John on the conservatorship. In October 2010, after John was moved into the Lorenz Hotel, Ramirez began to receive complaints that John was breaking the facility rules. He was allowing people in his room at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and smoking in his room. Ultimately, John went off conservatorship on November 1, 2010.

Willie Smith, operations manager of the Christian Church Homes, which runs the Lorenz Hotel, testified that she had moved John into the Lorenz on October 1, 2010. At the intake interview, John said he was a CIA agent. He would then say he was an undercover drug enforcement agent. As time went on, John became more difficult and less willing to cooperate with the STAR team. On November 24, 2010, Smith ordered John to move out of the Lorenz Hotel because of his violent behavior directed against the security guards. Specifically, the security guards reported that on October 30 or 31, they had to call the police as John was violent, drinking and threatening ...

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