CACI No. 4000. Conservatorship - Essential Factual Elements

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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4000.Conservatorship - Essential Factual Elements
[Name of petitioner] claims that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled
due to [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism] and
therefore should be placed in a conservatorship. In a conservatorship, a
conservator is appointed to oversee, under the direction of the court, the
care of persons who are gravely disabled due to a mental disorder or
chronic alcoholism. To succeed on this claim, [name of petitioner] must
prove beyond a reasonable doubt both of the following:
1. That [name of respondent] [has a mental disorder/is impaired by
chronic alcoholism]; and
2. That [name of respondent] is gravely disabled as a result of the
[mental disorder/chronic alcoholism].
New June 2005; Revised June 2016, May 2022
Directions for Use
Give CACI No. 4002, “Gravely Disabled” Explained, with this instruction.
Sources and Authority
Right to Jury Trial. Welfare and Institutions Code section 5350(d).
“Gravely Disabled” Defined. Welfare and Institutions Code section 5008(h).
“The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (the act) governs the involuntary treatment of
the mentally ill in California. Enacted by the Legislature in 1967, the act
includes among its goals ending the inappropriate and indefinite commitment of
the mentally ill, providing prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with
serious mental disorders, guaranteeing and protecting public safety, safeguarding
the rights of the involuntarily committed through judicial review, and providing
individualized treatment, supervision and placement services for the gravely
disabled by means of a conservatorship program.” (Conservatorship of Susan T.
(1994) 8 Cal.4th 1005, 1008-1009 [36 Cal.Rptr.2d 40, 884 P.2d 988].)
“LPS Act commitment proceedings are subject to the due process clause because
significant liberty interests are at stake. But an LPS Act proceeding is civil.
‘[T]he stated purposes of the LPS Act foreclose any argument that an LPS
commitment is equivalent to criminal punishment in its design or purpose.’ Thus,
not all safeguards required in criminal proceedings are required in LPS Act
proceedings.” (Conservatorship of P.D. (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 1163, 1167 [231
Cal.Rptr.3d 79], internal citations omitted.)
“The clear import of the LPS Act is to use the involuntary commitment power of
the state sparingly and only for those truly necessary cases where a ‘gravely
disabled’ person is incapable of providing for his basic needs either alone or
with help from others.” (Conservatorship of K.W. (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 1274,
1280 [221 Cal.Rptr.3d 622].)
“The right to a jury trial upon the establishment of conservatorship is
fundamental to the protections afforded by the LPS. As related, that right is
expressly extended to the reestablishment of an LPS conservatorship.”
(Conservatorship of Benvenuto (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 1030, 1037 [226 Cal.Rptr.
33], internal citations omitted.)
“[T]he trial court erred in accepting counsel’s waiver of [conservatee]’s right to a
jury trial . . . . (Estate of Kevin A. (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 1241, 1253 [193
Cal.Rptr.3d 237].)
‘The due process clause of the California Constitution requires that proof
beyond a reasonable doubt and a unanimous jury verdict be applied to
conservatorship proceedings under the LPS Act.’ An LPS commitment order
involves a loss of liberty by the conservatee. Consequently, it follows that a trial
court must obtain a waiver of the right to a jury trial from the person who is
subject to an LPS commitment.” (Conservatorship of Heather W. (2016) 245
Cal.App.4th 378, 382-383 [199 Cal.Rptr.3d 689].)
“We . . . hold that capacity or willingness to accept treatment is a relevant
factor to be considered on the issue of grave disability but is not a separate
element that must be proven to establish a conservatorship.” (Conservatorship of
K.P. (2021) 11 Cal.5th 695, 703 [280 Cal.Rptr.3d 298, 489 P.3d 296].)
“We . . . hold that a person sought to be made an LPS conservatee subject to
involuntary confinement in a mental institution, is entitled to have a unanimous
jury determination of all of the questions involved in the imposition of such a
conservatorship, and not just on the issue of grave disability in the narrow sense
of whether he or she can safely survive in freedom and provide food, clothing or
shelter unaided by willing, responsible relatives, friends or appropriate third
persons.” (Conservatorship of Davis,supra, 124 Cal.App.3d at p. 328,
disapproved on other grounds in Conservatorship of K.P., supra, 11 Cal.5th at p.
“The jury should determine if the person voluntarily accepts meaningful
treatment, in which case no conservatorship is necessary. If the jury finds the
person will not accept treatment, then it must determine if the person can meet
his basic needs on his own or with help, in which case a conservatorship is not
justified.” (Conservatorship of Walker (1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 1082, 1092-1093
[242 Cal.Rptr. 289].)
“Our research has failed to reveal any authority for the proposition [that] without
a finding that the proposed conservatee is unable or unwilling to voluntarily
accept treatment, the court must reject a conservatorship in the face of grave
disability. . . . Some persons with grave disabilities are beyond treatment. Taken
to its logical conclusion, they would be beyond the LPS Act’s reach, according
to the argument presented in this appeal.” (Conservatorship of Symington, supra,
209 Cal.App.3d at p. 1469.)
“The party seeking imposition of the conservatorship must prove the proposed
conservatee’s grave disability beyond a reasonable doubt and the verdict must be
issued by a unanimous jury.” (Conservatorship of Susan T., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p.
1009, internal citation omitted.)
“Although there is no private right of action for a violation of section 5152,
‘aggrieved individuals can enforce the [LPS] Act’s provisions through other
common law and statutory causes of action, such as negligence, medical
malpractice, false imprisonment, assault, battery, declaratory relief, United States
Code section 1983 for constitutional violations, and Civil Code section 52.1.
[Citations.]’ (Swanson v. County of Riverside (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 361, 368
[248 Cal.Rptr.3d 476].)
Secondary Sources
15 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Wills and Probate, § 1007
3 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Actions, § 97
2 California Conservatorship Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar) Ch. 23
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 361A, Mental Health and Mental
Disabilities: Judicial Commitment, Health Services, and Civil Rights, § 361A.30 et
seq. (Matthew Bender)

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