CACI No. 4005. Obligation to Prove - Reasonable Doubt

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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4005.Obligation to Prove - Reasonable Doubt
[Name of respondent] is presumed not to be gravely disabled. [Name of
petitioner] has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that
[name of respondent] is gravely disabled. The fact that a petition has been
filed claiming [name of respondent] is gravely disabled is not evidence
that this claim is true.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you with an
abiding conviction that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled as a
result of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism]. The
evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything in life
is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.
In deciding whether [name of respondent] is gravely disabled, you must
impartially compare and consider all the evidence that was received
throughout the entire trial.
Unless the evidence proves that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled
because of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism] beyond
a reasonable doubt, you must find that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] is not
gravely disabled.
Although a conservatorship is a civil proceeding, the burden of proof is
the same as in criminal trials.
New June 2005; Revised June 2016
Directions for Use
The presumption in the first sentence of the instruction is perhaps open to question.
Two older cases have held that there is such a presumption. (See Conservatorship of
Law (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 1336, 1340 [249 Cal.Rptr. 415]; Conservatorship of
Walker (1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 1082, 1099 [242 Cal.Rptr. 289].) However, these
holdings may have been based on the assumption that the California Supreme Court
had incorporated all protections for criminal defendants into LPS proceedings. (See
Conservatorship of Roulet (1979) 23 Cal.3d 219, 235 [152 Cal.Rptr. 425, 590 P.2d
1] [proof beyond reasonable doubt and unanimous jury verdict required].)
Subsequent cases have made it clear that an LPS respondent is not entitled to all of
the same protections as a criminal defendant. (See Conservatorship of Ben C. (2007)
40 Cal.4th 529, 538 [53 Cal.Rptr.3d 856, 150 P.3d 738] [exclusionary rule and
Wende review do not apply in LPS].)
Sources and Authority
“A proposed conservatee has a constitutional right to a finding based on proof
beyond a reasonable doubt. Without deciding whether the court has a sua sponte
duty to so instruct, we are satisfied that, on request, a court is required to
instruct in language emphasizing a proposed conservatee is presumed to not be
gravely disabled until the state carries its burden of proof.” (Conservatorship of
Walker,supra, 196 Cal.App.3d at p. 1099, internal citation omitted.)
“[I]f requested, a court is required to instruct that a proposed conservatee is
presumed not to be gravely disabled until the state carries its burden of proof.”
(Conservatorship of Law,supra, 202 Cal.App.3d at p. 1340.)
But see People v. Beeson (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 1393, 1409 [122 Cal.Rptr.2d
384]: “Even if we view the presumption in a more general sense as a warning
against the consideration of extraneous factors, we cannot conclude that the
federal and state Constitutions require a presumption-of-innocence-like
instruction outside the context of a criminal case. Particularly, we conclude that,
based on the civil and nonpunitive nature of involuntary commitment
proceedings, a mentally ill or disordered person would not be deprived of a fair
trial without such an instruction.”
“Neither mental disorder nor grave disability is a crime.” (Conservatorship of
Davis (1981) 124 Cal.App.3d 313, 330 [177 Cal.Rptr. 369].)
“More recently this court has recognized, however, that the analogy between
criminal proceedings and proceedings under the LPS Act is imperfect at best and
that not all of the safeguards required in the former are appropriate to the latter.”
(See Conservatorship of Ben C.,supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 538.)
“In Roulet, the California Supreme Court held that due process requires proof
beyond a reasonable doubt and jury unanimity in conservatorship proceedings.
However, subsequent appellate court decisions have not extended the application
of criminal law concepts in this area.” (Conservatorship of Maldonado (1985)
173 Cal.App.3d 144, 147 [218 Cal.Rptr. 796].)
Secondary Sources
3 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Actions, §§ 97, 104
2 California Conservatorship Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar) § 23.81
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 361A, Mental Health and Mental
Disabilities: Judicial Commitment, Health Services, and Civil Rights, § 361A.33
(Matthew Bender)

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