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People v. Curlee

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division

May 20, 2015

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
JOEL CURLEE, Defendant and Appellant.

[As modified June 12, 2015.]

[CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]]

Page 710

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Alameda County Super. Ct. No. 165110 Honorable Allan Hymer Trial Judge

COUNSEL

Rudolph G. Kraft, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffery M. Laurence, Assistant Attorney General, Laurence K. Sullivan, Moona Nandi and Dane R. Gillette, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

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OPINION

RIVERA, J.

The Sexually Violent Predators Act (Welf. & Inst. Code, [1] § 6600 et seq. (SVPA or the Act)) provides for involuntary civil commitment of certain offenders who are found to be sexually violent predators (SVP’s) after completing their prison terms. (People v. McKee (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1172, 1186–1187 [104 Cal.Rptr.3d 427, 223 P.3d 566] (McKee I).) To establish that a person is an SVP, the People must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender has been convicted of a qualifying sexually violent offense against one or more victims and that the offender has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes it likely the person would engage in sexually violent conduct if released. (§§ 6600, subd. (a)(1), 6604.)

Defendant Joel Curlee appeals an order committing him as an SVP. He contends recent amendments to the SVPA render his commitment unconstitutional and the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request for a continuance of his trial. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we reject these contentions. Curlee also contends he was deprived of his right to equal protection when he was compelled to testify during the People’s case-in-chief. Curlee argues that because a person found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity (NGI) may not be compelled to testify at hearings to extend his or her commitment, neither should a person found to be an SVP be compelled to testify. We shall remand the matter to the trial court to afford the People the opportunity to justify the differential treatment of SVP’s and NGI’s in this respect.

I. BACKGROUND

The Alameda County District Attorney filed a petition to commit Curlee as an SVP in December 2010. A supporting declaration averred Curlee had suffered a qualifying conviction, for forcible rape (Pen. Code, § 261), and that the Director of the State Department of Mental Health[2] (the Department) had requested Curlee be civilly committed as an SVP based upon the evaluations of three independent mental health professionals who had determined Curlee had a diagnosed mental disorder that made him likely to engage in sexually violent, predatory criminal behavior unless he received appropriate treatment in custody.

A jury trial took place, in which the People called Curlee as a witness in their case-in-chief. The jury found Curlee was an SVP, and on August 7, 2012,

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the trial court committed him for an indefinite term to the Department for appropriate treatment and confinement in a state hospital.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Equal Protection


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