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Conservatorship of The Person and Estate of Bryan S.

California Court of Appeals, First District, First Division

November 18, 2019

Conservatorship of the Person and Estate of BRYAN S. PUBLIC GUARDIAN OF MENDOCINO COUNTY, as Conservator, etc., Petitioner and Respondent,
v.
BRYAN S., Objector and Appellant.

         CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION [*]

          Trial Court: Superior Court of the County of Mendocino No. SCUK-LPSQ-13-1685 Trial Judge: Hon. Jeanine B. Nadel

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

          Counsel for Petitioner and Respondent: Katharine L. Elliott, County Counsel, County of Mendocino Charlotte E. Scott, Deputy Counsel, County of Mendocino

          HUMES, P.J.

         Following a court trial, the court found appellant Bryan S. to be gravely disabled, appointed the Mendocino County Public Guardian/Conservator (public guardian) as his conservator, and imposed legal disabilities on him under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (hereafter the LPS Act or Act).[1] On appeal, Bryan first argues that the term of his resulting commitment must be shortened because the trial court unlawfully continued the starting date of his trial. We conclude that Bryan forfeited the argument by failing to object below. Bryan also argues that he had a right under the equal protection clause to refuse to testify at his trial. We reject this argument in the published portion of our opinion and affirm the order establishing a conservatorship.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Bryan was arrested in October 2016 for resisting arrest after sheriff's deputies responded to a woman's call that he yelled at and chased her while she walked her dog. The trial court determined that Bryan was not competent to stand trial. A doctor recommended a treatment plan that included psychotropic medication to restore Bryan to competency, and he was taken to Napa State Hospital for treatment. After treating Bryan for two years, the hospital reported that it was unlikely he would soon regain competency, and it recommended the initiation of conservatorship proceedings.

         In October 2018 the public guardian filed a conservatorship petition alleging that Bryan was gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder. The petition was supported by the report of a clinical psychologist who evaluated Bryan and concluded that he was gravely disabled due to a mental disorder (schizophrenia).

         At the first hearing on the petition on November 1, 2018, the trial court appointed the public defender to represent Bryan and granted the request for a temporary conservatorship. The court then scheduled a further hearing on the request for a permanent conservatorship for November 29.

         At the November 29 pretrial conference, Bryan's attorney stated that Bryan wished to contest the permanent order and requested a trial. The trial court suggested scheduling the trial for January 28, 2019, and Bryan's attorney agreed to the date without objection. The parties later stipulated that Bryan would appear at trial by video-conference because of concerns that transporting him from his facility in Redding to trial in Ukiah would aggravate Bryan's health issues.

         A court trial began as scheduled on January 28, 2019. County counsel called Bryan as a witness with no objection from Bryan's attorney. The clinical psychologist whose report was submitted with the original conservatorship petition also testified, as did Bryan's temporary conservator.

         Following testimony and closing arguments, the trial court concluded that the public guardian had established beyond a reasonable doubt that Bryan was gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder and was currently unable to provide for food, clothing, or shelter. The court appointed the public ...


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