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People v. Blanchard

California Court of Appeals, First District, Third Division

December 31, 2019

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
BRYAN JACK BLANCHARD, Defendant and Appellant.

          Superior Court of Contra Costa County, Super. Ct. No. 5-171905-3 Lewis A. Davis, J. Trial Judge

          First District Appellate Project, Jonathan Soglin and Jeremy Price for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters and Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorneys General, Seth K. Schalit and Lisa Ashley Ott, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          Siggins, P.J.

         Bryan Jack Blanchard appeals from an order that adjudicated him incompetent to stand trial for a probation revocation charge and committed him to the Department of State Hospitals. His court-appointed counsel has filed a brief seeking our independent review of the record pursuant to People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436 (Wende) to determine whether there are any arguable issues on appeal. After considering whether Wende requires our independent review of the record in this circumstance, we conclude it does not. Instead, we follow and apply the process for review identified by our Supreme Court in Conservatorship of Ben C. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 529 (Ben C.).

         We have reviewed the brief provided by appointed counsel. It contains a summary of the relevant facts and law, and there appear to be no arguable issues to be pursued on appeal. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed.


         Blanchard was arrested after he was seen carrying a backpack and running away from a home that was not his own. The homeowners identified items in the backpack as theirs.

         Blanchard entered a no contest plea to second degree burglary. The court suspended the imposition of sentence and placed Blanchard on behavioral health probation for three years. Between January and November 2018, Blanchard was twice charged with violating the terms of his probation, and each time probation was reinstated. On November 29, 2018, he was charged with a third violation for a possible commercial burglary. That charge was quickly supplemented with two other charged violations.

         On December 11, 2018, his counsel on the probation violation charges declared a doubt regarding Blanchard's competence to stand trial. Blanchard objected to any finding of his incompetence, and the court appointed experts to evaluate him. With the agreement of all counsel, the expert reports were admitted into evidence, and the matter was submitted. On the basis of the reports, Blanchard was found incompetent to stand trial. The court referred Blanchard to the Contra Costa Conditional Release Program (CONREP) for a recommendation regarding his proper placement. Based on the CONREP recommendation, the court committed Blanchard to a state hospital for two years. He appealed the finding of incompetency and his hospital commitment.


         “In [Anders v. State of California (1967) 386 U.S. 738 (Anders)], the United States Supreme Court held that when appointed counsel in a criminal defendant's first appeal is unable to find any arguable issues for briefing, counsel should submit a brief referring to any matters in the record that might arguably support the appeal, provide the defendant a copy, and request permission to withdraw. [Citation.] After the defendant is given the opportunity to raise any points he or she wants the appellate court to consider, the court independently reviews the proceedings to determine whether the appeal is ‘wholly frivolous.' [Citation.] In Wende, the California Supreme Court concluded that Anders required the Courts of Appeal ‘to conduct a review of the entire record whenever appointed counsel submits a brief which raises no specific issues or describes the appeal as frivolous. This obligation is triggered by the receipt of such a brief from counsel and does not depend on the subsequent receipt of a brief from the defendant personally.' [Citation.] The court further recognized that ‘counsel may properly remain in the case so long as he has not described the appeal as frivolous and has informed the defendant that he may request the court to have counsel relieved if he so desires.' [Citation.]” (People v. Taylor (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 304, 309.) This process is commonly referred to as an Anders/Wende review. (Id. at p. 312.)

         In In re Sade C. (1996) 13 Cal.4th 952, 959 (Sade C.), our Supreme Court held that Anders/Wende review does not apply to an indigent parent's appeal of an order terminating parental rights or a custody determination. Sade C. began by recognizing the obvious qualification for Anders/Wende review. By its very terms, the Anders/Wende procedures apply to appointed counsel's representation of an indigent criminal defendant in the defendant's first appeal as of right. (Id. at p. 982.) Beyond this obvious distinction from a dependency case, the Sade C. court considered whether due process required Anders/Wende review as a matter of fundamental fairness. The Court balanced three elements in reaching its conclusion that it does not. They are: “(1) the private interests at stake; (2) the state's interests involved; and (3) the risk that absence of the procedures in question will lead to an erroneous resolution of the appeal.” (Id. at p. 987.)

         In Ben C., supra, 40 Cal.4th 529, the court applied the Sade C. factors to a request for Anders/Wende review of a conservatorship imposed under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (Welf. & Inst. Code, ยง 5000 et seq.) (LPS). In rejecting the necessity for such a review, the court first focused on the private and public interests at stake under the LPS scheme. It recognized that among the LPS Act's goals are the prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with serious mental disorders; individualized treatment supervision and placement services for the gravely disabled; judicial review to safeguard the rights of those ...

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