California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

4002. "Gravely Disabled" Explained

Download PDF
4002.“Gravely Disabled” Explained
The term “gravely disabled” means that a person is presently unable to
provide for his or her basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter because
of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism]. [The term
“gravely disabled” does not include mentally retarded persons by
reason of being mentally retarded alone.]
[[Insert one or more of the following:] [psychosis/bizarre or eccentric
behavior/delusions/hallucinations/[insert other]] [is/are] not enough, by
[itself/themselves], to find that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled.
[He/She] must be unable to provide for the basic needs of food, clothing,
or shelter because of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic
[If you find [name of respondent] will not take [his/her] prescribed
medication without supervision and that a mental disorder makes [him/
her] unable to provide for [his/her] basic needs for food, clothing, or
shelter without such medication, then you may conclude [name of
respondent] is presently gravely disabled.
In determining whether [name of respondent] is presently gravely
disabled, you may consider evidence that [he/she] did not take
prescribed medication in the past. You may also consider evidence of
[his/her] lack of insight into [his/her] mental condition.]
In considering whether [name of respondent] is presently gravely
disabled, you may not consider the likelihood of future deterioration or
relapse of a condition.
New June 2005
Directions for Use
Read the bracketed sentence at the end of the first paragraph if appropriate to the
facts of the case.
The principle regarding the likelihood of future deterioration may not apply in
cases where the respondent has no insight into his or her mental disorder.
(Conservatorship of Walker (1989) 206 Cal.App.3d 1572, 1576–1577 [254 Cal.Rptr.
If there is evidence concerning the availability of third parties that are willing to
provide assistance to the proposed conservatee, see CACI No. 4007, Third Party
Sources and Authority
• “Gravely Disabled” Defined. Welfare and Institutions Code section 5008(h).
• “The enactment of the LPS and with it the substitution of ‘gravely disabled’ for
‘in need of treatment’ as the basis for commitment of individuals not dangerous
to themselves or others reflects a legislative determination to meet the
constitutional requirements of precision. The term ‘gravely disabled’ is
sufficiently precise to exclude unusual or nonconformist lifestyles. It connotes
an inability or refusal on the part of the proposed conservatee to care for basic
personal needs of food, clothing and shelter.” (Conservatorship of Chambers
(1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 277, 284 [139 Cal.Rptr. 357], footnotes omitted.)
• “The public guardian must prove the proposed conservatee was ‘gravely
disabled’ beyond a reasonable doubt. The stricter criminal standard is used
because the threat to the conservatee’s individual liberty and personal reputation
is no different than the burdens associated with criminal prosecutions.”
(Conservatorship of Smith (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 903, 909 [232 Cal.Rptr. 277]
internal citations omitted.)
• “Bizarre or eccentric behavior, even if it interferes with a person’s normal
intercourse with society, does not rise to a level warranting conservatorship
except where such behavior renders the individual helpless to fend for herself or
destroys her ability to meet those basic needs for survival.” (Conservatorship of
Smith, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 909.)
• “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 (1981) 124 Cal.App.3d 313, 328 [177
Cal.Rptr. 369].)
• “[A]n individual who will not voluntarily accept mental health treatment is not
for that reason alone gravely disabled.” (Conservatorship of Symington (1989)
209 Cal.App.3d 1464, 1468 [257 Cal.Rptr. 860].)
• “[T]he pivotal issue is whether [respondent] was ‘presently’ gravely disabled
and the evidence demonstrates that he was not. Accordingly, the order granting
the petition must be overturned.” (Conservatorship of Benvenuto (1986) 180
Cal.App.3d. 1030, 1034 [226 Cal.Rptr. 33], fn. omitted, citing to
Conservatorship of Murphy (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 15, 18 [184 Cal.Rptr. 363].)
• “[A] conservatorship cannot be established because of a perceived likelihood of
future relapse. To do so could deprive the liberty of persons who will not suffer
such a relapse solely because of the pessimistic statistical odds. Because of the
promptness with which a conservatorship proceeding can be invoked the cost in
economic and liberty terms is unwarranted.” (Conservatorship of Neal (1987)
190 Cal.App.3d 685, 689 [235 Cal.Rptr. 577].)
• “A perceived likelihood of future relapse, without more, is not enough to justify
establishing a conservatorship. Neither can such a likelihood justify keeping a
conservatorship in place if its subject is not presently gravely disabled, in light
of the statutory provisions allowing rehearings to evaluate a conservatee’s
current status.” (Conservatorship of Jones (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 292, 302 [256
Cal.Rptr. 415], internal citation omitted.)
Secondary Sources
3 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Actions, § 97
2California Conservatorship Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar) §§ 23.3, 23.5
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 361A, Mental Health and
Mental Disabilities: Judicial Commitment, Health Services, and Civil Rights,
§§ 361A.33, 361A.42 (Matthew Bender)