Supreme Court of California

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People v. Blackburn, S211078

In criminal cases involving the statutory scheme for extending the involuntary commitment of a mentally disordered offender (MDO) beyond termination of parole, Pen. Code section 2972(a), the trial court must advise the MDO defendant personally of his or her right to a jury trial and, before holding a bench trial, must obtain a personal waiver of that right from the defendant unless the court finds substantial evidence -- that is, evidence sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt -- that the defendant lacks the capacity to make a knowing and voluntary waiver, in which case defense counsel controls the waiver decision. Here, the trial court erred by not advising defendant of his right to a jury trial, not obtaining defendant's personal waiver of that right, and not finding that there was substantial evidence that defendant lacked the capacity to make a knowing and voluntary waiver, and this error constitutes a miscarriage of justice which automatically requires reversal.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 08/17/2015
  • Published 08/17/2015


  • LIU


  • Supreme Court of California