C.A. 2nd;
B278102

The Second Appellate District reversed a trial court order. The court held that a defendant’s commitment as a mentally disordered offender (MDO) may not be based on an expert’s hearsay testimony.

Michael Lin was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to prison. Prior to Lin’s release, the Board of Parole Hearings determined he was an MDO. As a condition of parole, the Board required Lin to accept treatment from the State Department of State Hospitals. Lin filed a petition challenging this decision. At trial on Lin’s petition, psychologist Brandi Matthews testified that she twice attempted unsuccessfully to interview Lin. The interviews were terminated after several minutes because Lin was agitated, paranoid, and uncooperative. Mathews reviewed Lin’s state hospital medical records, his prior MDO evaluations, the probation officer’s report, physicians’ progress notes, psychological and psychiatric assessments, and interdisciplinary notes. Based in these records, Mathews opined that Lin suffered from schizophrenia, characterized by auditory hallucinations, paranoid symptoms, disorganized thinking, and grandiose delusions, and that this condition contributed to his commitment offense. In reaching this conclusion, Mathews relied on, among other things, Lin’s statement to a doctor that he was hearing voices at the time of the offense and his refusal to take his medication, as reflected in his medical records. The prosecutor did not present Lin’s medical or prison records or prior MDO evaluations into evidence.

The trial court determined that Lin met the requirements of Penal Code §2962 beyond a reasonable doubt and committed him to the State Department of State Hospitals for involuntary treatment

The court of appeal reversed, holding that Mathews’ testimony constituted inadmissible hearsay. Under People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, an expert’s hearsay statements to prove a defendant’s gang membership are inadmissible hearsay. The same rule applies to MDO proceedings. Mathews’ opinion was based on multiple hearsay statements that were not independently proven by competent evidence. This, Sanchez did not allow. In te absence of competent evidence to establish the statutory requirements of §2962, the trial court order had to be reversed.