CACI 4005 Obligation to Prove—Reasonable Doubt

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

4005 Obligation to Prove—Reasonable Doubt

[Name of respondent] is presumed not to be gravely disabled. [Name of petitioner] has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled. The fact that a petition has been filed claiming [name of respondent] is gravely disabled is not evidence that this claim is true.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you with an abiding conviction that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled as a result of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism]. The evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything in life is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.

In deciding whether [name of respondent] is gravely disabled, you must impartially compare and consider all the evidence that was received throughout the entire trial.

Unless the evidence proves that [name of respondent] is gravely disabled because of [a mental disorder/impairment by chronic alcoholism] beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] is not gravely disabled.

Although a conservatorship is a civil proceeding, the burden of proof is the same as in criminal trials.

Directions for Use

The presumption in the first sentence of the instruction is perhaps open to question. Two older cases have held that there is such a presumption. (See Conservatorship of Law (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 1336, 1340 [249 Cal.Rptr. 415]; Conservatorship of Walker (1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 1082, 1099 [242 Cal.Rptr. 289].) However, these holdings may have been based on the assumption that the California Supreme Court had incorporated all protections for criminal defendants into LPS proceedings. (See Conservatorship of Roulet (1979) 23 Cal.3d 219, 235 [152 Cal.Rptr. 425, 590 P.2d 1] [proof beyond reasonable doubt and unanimous jury verdict required].) Subsequent cases have made it clear that an LPS respondent is not entitled to all of the same protections as a criminal defendant. (See Conservatorship of Ben C. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 529, 538 [53 Cal.Rptr.3d 856, 150 P.3d 738] [exclusionary rule and Wende review do not apply in LPS].)

Sources and Authority

“A proposed conservatee has a constitutional right to a finding based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Without deciding whether the court has a sua sponte duty to so instruct, we are satisfied that, on request, a court is required to instruct in language emphasizing a proposed conservatee is presumed to not be gravely disabled until the state carries its burden of proof.” (Conservatorship of Walkersupra, 196 Cal.App.3d at p. 1099, internal citation omitted.)

“[I]f requested, a court is required to instruct that a proposed conservatee is presumed not to be gravely disabled until the state carries its burden of proof.” (Conservatorship of Lawsupra, 202 Cal.App.3d at p. 1340.)

But see People v. Beeson (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 1393, 1409 [122 Cal.Rptr.2d 384]: “Even if we view the presumption in a more general sense as a warning against the consideration of extraneous factors, we cannot conclude that the federal and state Constitutions require a presumption-of-innocence-like instruction outside the context of a criminal case. Particularly, we conclude that, based on the civil and nonpunitive nature of involuntary commitment proceedings, a mentally ill or disordered person would not be deprived of a fair trial without such an instruction.”

“Neither mental disorder nor grave disability is a crime.” (Conservatorship of Davis (1981) 124 Cal.App.3d 313, 330 [177 Cal.Rptr. 369].)

“More recently this court has recognized, however, that the analogy between criminal proceedings and proceedings under the LPS Act is imperfect at best and that not all of the safeguards required in the former are appropriate to the latter.” (See Conservatorship of Ben C.supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 538.)

“In Roulet, the California Supreme Court held that due process requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt and jury unanimity in conservatorship proceedings. However, subsequent appellate court decisions have not extended the application of criminal law concepts in this area.” (Conservatorship of Maldonado (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 144, 147 [218 Cal.Rptr. 796].)

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Actions, §§ 97, 104
2 California Conservatorship Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar) § 23.81
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 361A, Mental Health and Mental Disabilities: Judicial Commitment, Health Services, and Civil Rights, § 361A.33 (Matthew Bender)