IN RE: Jose Francisco FIGUEROA

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Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5, California.

IN RE: Jose Francisco FIGUEROA, Petitioner, On Habeas Corpus.

Cr. 42351.

Decided: April 27, 1982

Wilbur F. Littlefield, Public Defender, Laurence M. Sarnoff, Kenneth Erlich and John Hamilton Scott, Deputy Public Defenders, for petitioner.


The petition for writ of habeas corpus having been read and considered.   Petitioner was arraigned on a misdemeanor vandalism charge (Pen.Code, § 594) on February 17, 1982.   Petitioner being in custody, the People were obliged to bring him to trial within 30 days, unless good cause for delay were shown.   (Pen.Code, § 1382.)   On March 19, 1982, the 30th day following petitioner's arraignment, petitioner was referred for psychiatric evaluation pursuant to Penal Code section 4011.6.

The reporter's transcript of the March 19 proceedings provides a sketchy record of what transpired as it appears that agreement as to what the court would do was reached at an off-the-record conference.   The transcript reflects that “everyone” agreed that petitioner should be referred for the section 4011.6 evaluation.   Counsel were asked by the court, “what would be a good return date?”   Counsel for petitioner suggested April 2, 1982, “the 14th day.”   It is clear from the context that counsel selected this date as it was the last date petitioner could be detained involuntarily pursuant to Penal Code section 4011.6 and Welfare and Institutions Code section 5250.   After the return date was selected, defense counsel stated for the record that March 19 was the last day for trial under Penal Code section 1382 and that petitioner was not waiving time and was ready for trial.

On March 25, 1982, Metropolitan State Hospital prepared a very brief report on petitioner's psychiatric condition.   It stated:  “Patient is guarded and tends to project and deny problems;  However he reveals some paranoid thought processes.   Is in need of further observation and treatment.”   This report was filed in municipal court on March 29, 1982.   On April 1, 1982, petitioner converted to voluntary commitment status (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 6000) at the state hospital.

When court proceedings commenced on April 2, 1982, defense counsel moved to dismiss the charges based on his refusal to waive time when the Penal Code section 4011.6 referral was made.   This motion was impliedly denied and jury selection commenced.   The motion was renewed on April 5, 1982.   The court ruled that the need for the Penal Code section 4011.6 referral constituted good cause for a continuance of the trial.

Petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus from the superior court.   Being unsuccessful in that endeavor, he filed the present petition.

Penal Code section 4011.6 provides that if a prisoner is detained in a facility for evaluation and treatment pursuant to the procedure which the statute specifies, “and if the person in charge of such facility determines that arraignment or trial would be detrimental to the well-being of the prisoner, the time spent therein shall not be computed in any statutory time requirements for arraignment or trial in any pending criminal or juvenile proceedings.   Otherwise, nothing contained herein shall affect any statutory time requirements for arraignment or trial in any pending criminal or juvenile proceedings.”

Petitioner argued that the person in charge of the detention facility not having determined that trial would be detrimental to him, and petitioner not having waived time for trial, there was no valid basis for continuing trial beyond the statutory time.   The proposition for which petitioner contends would render Penal Code section 4011.6 unworkable.

It is obvious that section 4011.6 was enacted for the benefit of mentally disordered prisoners.   It is equally obvious that whenever a section 4011.6 referral is made there will always be a time gap before the person in charge of the detention facility can determine if trial would be detrimental to the prisoner.   In placing responsibility for determining whether trial would be detrimental to such prisoners on the person in charge of the facility, the Legislature clearly did not intend to erect the type of barrier to referral which petitioner has presented.   Rather common sense dictates that upon referral under section 4011.6, good cause exists, within the meaning of Penal Code section 1382 for a delay of trial sufficient to enable the person in charge of the detention facility to determine whether or not trial would be detrimental.

In the instant case, everyone having agreed that the referral was appropriate, and defense counsel having selected the return date and having made no effort to advance the proceedings upon receipt of the psychiatric report, petitioner cannot be heard to complain that the delay was inordinate.

The petition is hereby denied.


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