California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

4005. Obligation to Prove - Reasonable Doubt

Download PDF
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] is not gravely
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
2California 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)