Trusts and Estates

Conservatorship of Jose B.

Cite as B292172
Filed June 18, 2020, Second District, Div. Seven

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

Headnote: LPS Conservatorships – Trial Delay

Summary: An LPS Conservatee’s right to trial within 10 days of demand is directory, not mandatory.

Jose B. suffered from schizophrenia and was unwilling and unable to accept voluntary treatment. For a 10-year period starting in 2008, the Los Angeles County Public Guardian was granted a Lanterman-Petris-Short (“LPS”) conservatorship over Jose with no objection. In 2018, Jose objected, for the first time, to the Public Guardian’s petition to be reappointed and requested a jury trial. Jury trial was delayed 137 days after Jose made the demand. The Public Guardian’s petition was granted after trial. Jose appealed.

The court of appeal affirmed. Jose had a statutory right to trial within 10 days of demand, with up to a 15-day continuance if requested by his counsel. But since the statute did not provide for a penalty or consequence if the deadline was not met, the time limit was directory, not mandatory, and did not require dismissal. Further, given the lack of prejudice to Jose, who did not challenge the jury’s finding that he was gravely disabled or claim he did not receive a fair trial, he was not denied due process. If a proposed conservatee contends he or she has been prejudiced by trial delay, the proper remedy is to file a motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial.

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