Trusts and Estates

Conservatorship of D.C.

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Cite as B290408
Filed August 29, 2019, Second District

By Daniel C. Kim
Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation

Headnote: LPS Conservatorship – Appealability of Right to Jury Trial –Orders for Involuntary Medication

Summary: LPS Conservatee’s appeal of denial of right to jury trial deemed untimely and substantial evidence supported order for involuntary medication.

In August 2017, the Los Angeles Public Guardian petitioned for an LPS conservatorship over the person and estate of D.C. Supporting declarations by physicians stated that D.C. had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was unable to accept voluntary treatment or provide for her personal needs for food, clothing, and shelter. At the first hearing, D.C. was present in court, and her counsel represented that D.C. would submit on the petition. The court found that D.C. was gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder and had waived her right to a jury trial. In an October 4, 2017 Order the court granted the petition and appointed the Public Guardian. The court also imposed legal disabilities against D.C.’s right to operate a motor vehicle, to possess a firearm, to choose or refuse medical treatment, and to contract. In January 2018, D.C. filed a demand for a jury trial and petitioned for rehearing. The Court denied rehearing. Following the jury trial, on April 25, 2018, the court ordered D.C. to remain in a conservatorship and maintained all prior orders in effect. D.C. appealed.

The court of appeal affirmed. D.C.’s failure to timely appeal the October 4, 2017 order rendered the denial of a timely jury trial in the first proceeding unreviewable, and that Order could not be reviewed on the subsequent appeal because the first order was independently reviewable. Further, both the October 2017 and April 2018 orders for involuntary medication were supported by substantial evidence because of ample evidence that D.C. lacked insight about her mental condition, was unable to voluntarily accept meaningful treatment, and required medications to treat her schizophrenia.  However, the court recommended that in future proceedings trial courts should make specific findings supporting involuntary medication orders, or other orders imposing disabilities on conservatees.

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