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Conservatorship of Person and Estate of M.M.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

August 29, 2019

Conservatorship of the Person and Estate of M.M. LOS ANGELES COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC GUARDIAN, as Conservator, etc., Petitioner and Respondent,
v.
M.M., Objector and Appellant.

          APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. ZE042882, Robert S. Harrison, Judge. Affirmed.

          Rudy Kraft, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Objector and Appellant.

          Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel, Rosanne Wong, Assistant County Counsel, and William C. Sias, Senior Deputy County Counsel, for Petitioner and Respondent.

          GRIMES, ACTING P. J.

         M.M. appeals the appointment of a conservator under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 5000 et seq.) after a jury found him to be gravely disabled due to a mental disorder. He does not challenge the jury's verdict or claim any error in the trial proceedings that led to his conservatorship. His only claim on appeal is the trial court denied his right to begin a jury trial within 25 days of his jury trial demand. Instead, his trial began 61 days after his demand. He asks us to order his conservatorship expires 36 days earlier than the date the trial court ordered (61 25 = 36), a remedy for which he provides no authority in the law. M.M. has forfeited the contention because for the most part the delay in beginning trial was due to his own counsel's requests for a confidential expert report and to continue the trial to accommodate counsel's schedule. We affirm.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On July 26, 2018, the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Guardian filed a petition for the appointment of a conservator of the person and estate for M.M. Two doctors declared in support of the petition that M.M. had a diagnosis of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, was unwilling to accept voluntary treatment, and a conservatorship was required because M.M is unable and unwilling to provide for his personal needs for food, clothing, and shelter. M.M. had previously been under a conservatorship due to his mental health issues. This time, M.M. had been admitted to the hospital after he lost consciousness on a bus. He had a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. M.M. denied he has these conditions and refused medical treatment, even though his blood pressure was “dangerously high.”

         M.M. denied any mental illness, claiming his identity had been stolen. He refused psychotropic medications and refused to speak with the psychiatric treatment team. He had only vague plans to care for himself, claiming he would travel “back east” or to his home in Las Vegas. He had made similar claims during a prior psychiatric hospitalization, but was readmitted to a psychiatric facility soon after his discharge.

         On July 27, the trial court appointed the Public Guardian as the temporary conservator, and temporary letters of conservatorship issued that same day.

         An initial hearing on the petition was set for August 13, but the hearing was continued until August 16 because M.M. had not been transported to court.

         On August 16, M.M. demanded a jury trial. His lawyer requested a trial setting conference in four weeks when his trial counsel was available to make an appearance on behalf of M.M. M.M.'s counsel also asked that an Evidence Code section 730 expert be appointed to evaluate M.M. The court granted these requests.

         At the September 17 trial setting conference, M.M.'s counsel announced ready for trial. When counsel was advised the judge assigned to handle M.M.'s case was not available until October 1, M.M.'s counsel agreed to an October 1 trial date, with a readiness hearing on September 27.

         On September 27, M.M.'s trial counsel was not available because he had jury duty. Counsel requested and was granted a continuance of the trial to October 15.

         The case was called for trial on October 15, but the trial was continued to the following day because the jury panel saw M.M. in restraints, and a new panel had to be ordered. At trial, M.M.'s treating psychiatrist testified M.M. suffers from schizophrenia, experiencing hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, and he engages in aggressive behavior. The psychiatrist testified M.M. denied any mental illness or other health ...


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