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People v. Leelu

California Court of Appeals, Sixth District

December 3, 2019

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent
v.
Charlete LEELU, Defendant and Appellant.

         [256 Cal.Rptr.3d 217] Santa Clara County Superior Court Case Nos.: B1795335, C1779663, Hon. Michele McKay McCoy, Judge (Santa Clara County Super. Ct. Nos. B1795335, C1779663)

Page 1024

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1025

         COUNSEL

         Gordon B. Scott, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

         Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Catherine A. Rivlin, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Allan Yannow, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

         OPINION

         Danner, J.

Page 1026

          Appellant Charlete Leelu appeals an order committing her to the Department of State Hospitals based on a finding under Penal Code section 1368 et seq. that she was incompetent to stand trial on criminal charges. Although Leelu has subsequently been deemed restored to competency and has returned to the trial court for criminal proceedings, we conclude her appeal is not moot. We further determine that any error the trial court may have made in failing to appoint a second mental health expert to evaluate her competency was not prejudicial in light of the overwhelming evidence that Leelu was not competent to stand trial.

         [256 Cal.Rptr.3d 218] I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The facts of Leelu’s alleged crimes are not relevant to this appeal. On December 12, 2017, Leelu was charged by complaint with misdemeanor trespass, in violation of Penal Code section 602, subdivision (m) in docket B1795335.[1] That same day, the trial court granted Leelu’s motion to represent herself.

         On December 15, 2017, in docket C1779663, Leelu was charged by complaint with stalking, in violation of section 646.9, subdivision (a). On December 28, 2017, Leelu made her first appearance in the case. Leelu told the public defender and the trial court that she wanted to represent herself. Leelu asserted to the court, "I know my rights. I can have jury trial representing myself. [¶] ... [¶] All psychiatry. And they arrest me so many times in the past couple years, but now I want to be candidate of U.S. senator. We need to change to make a difference, as Donald Trump said." The trial court stated, "I had some experience with Ms. Leelu [in another department]. She is scheduled to be in my department on Tuesday for trial. Based on her behavior here, which included a very aggressive and physical demeanor in terms of speaking to the Court and acting out at the podium, and the way she’s addressing the Court and talking about her case, I believe that I have a doubt, and so pursuant to [section] 1368, criminal proceedings are suspended." Leelu stated, "I will let all 32 million people know this judge use police to harass me and my husband and always do things, keeping asking money from me, no jury trial at all. And the police chief right to hire and --."

Page 1027

          On January 4, 2018, the trial court suspended proceedings against Leelu in docket B1795335 pursuant to section 1368. That same day, the trial court appointed a ...


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