CACI 4002 Gravely Disabled Explained

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

4002 “Gravely Disabled” Explained

The term “gravely disabled” means that a person is presently unable to provide for the person’s basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter because of [a mental health disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism]. [The term “gravely disabled” does not include persons with intellectual disabilities by reason of the disability alone.]

[[Insert one or more of the following:] [psychosis/bizarre or eccentric behavior/delusions/hallucinations/[insert other]] [is/are] not enough, by [itself/themselves], to find that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled. [He/She/Nonbinary pronoun] must be unable to provide for the basic needs of food, clothing, or shelter because of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism].]

[If you find [name of respondent] will not take [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] prescribed medication without supervision and that a mental disorder makes [him/her/nonbinary pronoun] unable to provide for [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter without such medication, then you may conclude [name of respondent] is presently gravely disabled.

In determining whether [name of respondent] is presently gravely disabled, you may consider evidence that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] did not take prescribed medication in the past. You may also consider evidence of [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] lack of insight into [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] mental condition.]

In considering whether [name of respondent] is presently gravely disabled, you may not consider the likelihood of future deterioration or relapse of a condition.

Directions for Use

This instruction provides the definition of “gravely disabled” from Welfare and Institutions Code section 5008(h)(1)(A), which will be the applicable standard in most cases. The instruction applies to both adults and minors. (Conservatorship of M.B. (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 98, 107 [237 Cal.Rptr.3d 775].)

Read the bracketed sentence at the end of the first paragraph if appropriate to the facts of the case. There is a second standard in Welfare and Institutions Code section 5008(h)(1)(B) involving a finding of mental incompetence under Penal Code section 1370. A different instruction will be required if this standard is alleged.

The last paragraph regarding the likelihood of future deterioration may not apply if the respondent has no insight into the respondent’s mental disorder. (Conservatorship of Walker (1989) 206 Cal.App.3d 1572, 1576–1577 [254 Cal.Rptr. 552].)

If there is evidence concerning the availability of third parties that are willing to provide assistance to the proposed conservatee, see CACI No. 4007, Third Party Assistance.

Sources and Authority

“Gravely Disabled” Defined. Welfare and Institutions Code section 5008(h).

“The enactment of the LPS and with it the substitution of ‘gravely disabled’ for ‘in need of treatment’ as the basis for commitment of individuals not dangerous to themselves or others reflects a legislative determination to meet the constitutional requirements of precision. The term ‘gravely disabled’ is sufficiently precise to exclude unusual or nonconformist lifestyles. It connotes an inability or refusal on the part of the proposed conservatee to care for basic personal needs of food, clothing and shelter.” (Conservatorship of Chambers (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 277, 284 [139 Cal.Rptr. 357], footnotes omitted.)

“[T]he public guardian must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the proposed conservatee is gravely disabled.” (Conservatorship of Jesse G. (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 453, 461 [203 Cal.Rptr.3d 667].)

“The stricter criminal standard is used because the threat to the conservatee’s individual liberty and personal reputation is no different than the burdens associated with criminal prosecutions.” (Conservatorship of Smith (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 903, 909 [232 Cal.Rptr. 277] internal citations omitted.)

“Bizarre or eccentric behavior, even if it interferes with a person’s normal intercourse with society, does not rise to a level warranting conservatorship except where such behavior renders the individual helpless to fend for herself or destroys her ability to meet those basic needs for survival.” (Conservatorship of Smith, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 909.)

“Under [Welfare and Institutions Code] section 5350, subdivision (e)(1), ‘a person is not “gravely disabled” if that person can survive safely without involuntary detention with the help of responsible family, friends, or others who are both willing and able to help provide for the person’s basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter.’ ” (Conservatorship of Jesse G., supra, 248 Cal.App.4th at p. 460.)

“While [third person] may not have shown that he could manage appellant’s mental health symptoms as adeptly as would a person professionally trained to care for someone with a mental disorder, that is not the standard. As appellant states, ‘[t]he question in a LPS conservatorship case where the proposed conservatee asserts a third party assistance claim is not whether the third party will be able to manage the person’s mental health symptoms completely. Rather, the dispositive question is whether the person is able to provide the proposed conservatee with food, clothing, and shelter on a regular basis.” (Conservatorship of Jesse G., supra, 248 Cal.App.4th at p. 463 fn. 4.)

“We … hold that a person sought to be made an LPS conservatee subject to involuntary confinement in a mental institution, is entitled to have a unanimous jury determination of all of the questions involved in the imposition of such a conservatorship, and not just on the issue of grave disability in the narrow sense of whether he or she can safely survive in freedom and provide food, clothing or shelter unaided by willing, responsible relatives, friends or appropriate third persons.” (Conservatorship of Davis (1981) 124 Cal.App.3d 313, 328 [177 Cal.Rptr. 369].)

“[A]n individual who will not voluntarily accept mental health treatment is not for that reason alone gravely disabled.” (Conservatorship of Symington (1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 1464, 1468 [257 Cal.Rptr. 860].)

“[T]he pivotal issue is whether [respondent] was ‘presently’ gravely disabled and the evidence demonstrates that he was not. Accordingly, the order granting the petition must be overturned.” (Conservatorship of Benvenuto (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d. 1030, 1034 [226 Cal.Rptr. 33], fn. omitted, citing to Conservatorship of Murphy (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 15, 18 [184 Cal.Rptr. 363].)

“[A] conservatorship cannot be established because of a perceived likelihood of future relapse. To do so could deprive the liberty of persons who will not suffer such a relapse solely because of the pessimistic statistical odds. Because of the promptness with which a conservatorship proceeding can be invoked the cost in economic and liberty terms is unwarranted.” (Conservatorship of Neal (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 685, 689 [235 Cal.Rptr. 577].)

“A perceived likelihood of future relapse, without more, is not enough to justify establishing a conservatorship. Neither can such a likelihood justify keeping a conservatorship in place if its subject is not presently gravely disabled, in light of the statutory provisions allowing rehearings to evaluate a conservatee’s current status.” (Conservatorship of Jones (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 292, 302 [256 Cal.Rptr. 415], internal citation omitted.)

“[T]he definition of ‘ “[g]ravely disabled minor” ’ from section 5585.25 is not part of the LPS Act, but is found in the Children’s Civil Commitment and Mental Health Treatment Act of 1988. (§ 5585.) This definition applies ‘only to the initial 72 hours of mental health evaluation and treatment provided to a minor. … Evaluation and treatment of a minor beyond the initial 72 hours shall be pursuant to the … [LPS Act].’ (§ 5585.20.) Accordingly, we must apply the definition found in the LPS Act, and determine whether there was substantial evidence Minor suffered from a mental disorder as a result of which she ‘would be unable to provide for [her] basic personal needs’ if she had to so provide.” (Conservatorship of M.B., supra, 27 Cal.App.5th at p. 107.)

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Actions, § 97
2 California Conservatorship Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar) §§ 23.3, 23.5
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 361A, Mental Health and Mental Disabilities: Judicial Commitment, Health Services, and Civil Rights, §§ 361A.33, 361A.42 (Matthew Bender)