Court has No Duty During Recommitment Proceedings to Consider Suitability for Outpatient Treatment

In People v. Rish, case no. B198727 (2d Dist. June 16, 2008), Rish appealed from from an order recommitting him to the California Department of Mental Health for treatment as a mentally disordered offender pursuant to Penal Code section 2972.  He claimed that the trial court erred by failing to consider whether he was suitable for outpatient treatment, even though he did not raise this alternative in the trial court.

The Court of Appeal determines that Rish waived the issue by failing to raise it.  As a matter of statutory construction, Section 2972, subdivision (d) does not impose a duty on the court to evaluate suitability for outpatient treatment sua sponte.

The court reached the issue even though it had been mooted by the trial court’s entry of a subsequent order extending Rish’s commitment for an additional one-year term and setting a hearing to address his suitability for outpatient treatment.  It found the issue “capable of repetition, yet evading review” because commitment petitions must be filed on an annual basis, making it likely the trial court would decide a new petition prior to appellate review of the prior sustained petition.