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SB-557 Criminal proceedings: mental competence: expert reports.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 07/11/2019 09:00 PM
SB557:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  July 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 06, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  March 27, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 557


Introduced by Senator Jones

February 22, 2019


An act to add Section 1369.5 to the Penal Code, relating to criminal procedure.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 557, as amended, Jones. Criminal proceedings: mental competence: expert reports.
Existing law prohibits a person from being tried or adjudged to punishment while that person is mentally incompetent. Existing law establishes a process by which a defendant’s mental competency is evaluated, which includes requiring the court to appoint a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist, and any other expert whom the court may deem appropriate, to examine the defendant.
Existing law requires a defendant found mentally incompetent to stand trial to undergo evaluation by the community program director, the regional center director, or the county mental health director, and requires the evaluator to make written recommendations to the court, prior to the court ordering the defendant to undergo outpatient treatment or be committed to the state hospital, a developmental center, a residential facility, or any other treatment facility.
If the director who evaluates the defendant determines that the defendant has regained mental competence, existing law requires the director to immediately certify that fact to the court by filing a certificate of restoration with the court.
This bill would make all documents submitted to a court after January 1, 2020, pursuant to this process presumptively confidential, except as otherwise provided by law. The bill would require the documents to be retained in the confidential portion of the court’s file, and would require counsel for the defendant and the prosecution to maintain the documents as confidential. The bill would authorize counsel for the defendant and the prosecution to inspect, copy, or utilize the documents, and any information contained in the documents, without an order from the court for specified purposes, including the safety of the public. The bill would require a motion, application, or petition to inspect or copy access the documents to be decided according to specified court rules. The bill would authorize a court to deem documents submitted prior to January 1, 2020, confidential and would authorize the prosecution, defendant, or defendant’s counsel to request that documents submitted prior to January 1, 2020, be deemed confidential.
Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.
This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 1369.5 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

1369.5.
 (a) All documents A document submitted to a court pursuant to this chapter, including, but not limited to, Sections 1369, 1370, 1370.1, 1370.01, 1370.01, 1370.1, and 1372, are is presumptively confidential, except as otherwise provided by law.
(b) A document described in subdivision (a) shall be retained in the confidential portion of the court’s file. Counsel for the defendant and the prosecution shall maintain the documents as confidential.
(c) (1) The defendant, counsel for the defendant, and the prosecution may inspect, copy, or utilize the documents, and any information contained in the documents, without an order from the court for purposes related to the defense, prosecution, treatment, and safety of the defendant, and for the safety of the public.
(2) A motion, application, or petition to inspect or copy access the documents shall be decided in accordance with subdivision (h) of Rule 2.551 of the California Rules of Court.

(d)This section applies to all documents submitted to a court after January 1, 2020. A court may deem documents submitted prior to that date confidential. The prosecuting attorney, defendant, or counsel for the defendant may request that a court deem documents submitted prior to January 1, 2020, confidential.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act, which adds Section 1369.5 to the Penal Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:
In order to protect the privacy of defendants with respect to personal information contained within expert reports and other documents that are prepared as part of mental competency hearings, it is necessary that those documents be presumptively confidential, except as otherwise provided by law.