Petition for Conservatorship California
Conservatorship of Maldonado (1985) 173 Cal. App. 3d 144, 218 Cal. Rptr. 796, involved a petition to establish a conservatorship under the LPS Act.
Such conservatorships can result in the involuntary detention and placement of the conservatee in a medical or nonmedical facility. ( 5358, subd. (a)(2), 5358.5.)
The Act provides that a proposed conservatee "shall have the right to demand a court or jury trial on the issue whether he or she is gravely disabled." ( 5350, subd. (d).)
In Maldonado, when the case was called for trial, counsel for the proposed conservatee announced a jury waiver without any express waiver from the proposed conservatee himself.
Affirming the order establishing the conservatorship, the court stated:
"The constitutional right to a jury trial exists only with respect to those actions in which the right existed at common law at the time the California Constitution was adopted.
Since conservatorship proceedings were unknown to the common law, the right to a jury trial therein exists only as provided by statute." (Maldonado, supra, 173 Cal. App. 3d at p. 147.)
Maldonado cited In re De La O (1963) 59 Cal.2d 128, in which the California Supreme Court held there was no constitutional right to a jury trial in a proceeding to commit a defendant as a narcotics addict under former Penal Code section 6450.
The court in De La O stated:
"The commitment procedures set up by the subject statute are in the nature of special civil proceedings unknown to the common law, and hence there is no right to jury trial unless it is given by the statute." ( De La O, supra, at p. 150.)
The Maldonado court therefore held that "civil procedural law determines whether an individual has waived the right to a jury trial in a conservatorship proceeding." (Maldonado, supra, 173 Cal. App. 3d at p. 148.) Thus, counsel's waiver was sufficient under Code of Civil Procedure section 631 . ( Maldonado, supra, at p. 148.)