Opinion on LPS hearings being presumptively nonpublic hearings.
There is a bill out addressing this issue.
The bill is not changing anything important but rather just clarifying that all LPS hearings; not just LPS Conservatorship hearings, are to be private.
Some proponents believe that LPS hearings should be open as the “essential goal of openness is to expose failings in the system”. Some may try to open LPS Conservatorship hearings to the public like they tried to do to dependency a couple of years ago. (https://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-oe-newton-column-dependency-court-20120213-column.html) Some advocates contend that greater transparency in the mental health system and news access to LPS courts would improve the public’s sense of how the system works and what loopholes may exist. However, a far larger number of people including disability rights CA and patient’s rights believe that making LPS hearings public would bear consequences that would far outweigh any benefits.
Current legal authority mandates that LPS proceedings are “unique” and are “especially designed to help encourage mental health treatment, protect the public, safeguard the rights of patients, and encourage patients to seek treatment” and if this privacy were violated patients would far less apt to seek help. However, current law allows for patients to request that others attend their hearing but this request must be made directly and not through on behalf of the patient via their counsel. Sorenson v. Superior Ct., 219 Cal. App. 4th 409, 423, 161 Cal. Rptr. 3d 794, 805 (2013). However, the main directive of Code is to ensure that all court hearings under the LPS Act are to “be carried out with the utmost consideration for the privacy and dignity of the proposed LPS conservatee. Welf & I C § 5200.
Juvenile Dependency and