Supreme Court of California Justia
Citation 49 Cal. 4th 145, 230 P.3d 1132, 109 Cal. Rptr. 3d 346

People v. Javier Castillo

Filed 5/24/10

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

THE PEOPLE,
Plaintiff and Respondent,
S171163
v.
Ct.App. 2/5
No. B202289
JAVIER CASTILLO,
Los Angeles County
Defendant and Appellant.
Super. Ct. Nos. ZM009280,
ZM006562, & ZM004837

We granted review to determine whether the Court of Appeal erred by modifying
the term of appellant‟s civil commitment as a sexually violent predator from two years —
the term agreed to by the Los Angeles County District Attorney, the Los Angeles County
Public Defender, and the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court,
pursuant to a signed stipulation — to an indeterminate term, as provided by Proposition
83‟s amendments to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6604. We reverse the
judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal, and enforce the stipulation.
I.
A.
In 1985, Javier Castillo was convicted of two counts of committing lewd acts upon
a child under the age of 14 years by use of force, violence, or fear (Pen. Code, § 288,
subd. (b)), and was sentenced to a six-year term in state prison. In 1992, he was
convicted of an additional charge of committing lewd acts upon a child under the age of
14 years (id., subd. (a)), and was sentenced to an eight-year term in prison. Thereafter, in
1

October 1999, Castillo was committed to Coalinga State Hospital as a sexually violent
predator (SVP) as defined under the Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA) (Welf. &
Inst. Code, §§ 6600-6609.3; see generally Hubbart v. Superior Court (1999) 19 Cal.4th
1138, 1143, 1147 [confirming the constitutionality of the SVPA as a civil commitment
program]).1
In August 2001, the Los Angeles County District Attorney‟s Office (District
Attorney) filed a petition seeking to extend Castillo‟s commitment for a two-year period.
(Welf. & Inst. Code, former § 6604, added by Stats. 1995, ch. 763, § 3, pp. 5925-5926
[setting forth a two-year term for extension of commitment].) Apparently, Castillo,
through his counsel, stipulated to continuance of trial on the commitment extension, and
no such trial was held. Thereafter, in October 2003, the District Attorney filed a second
petition to extend Castillo‟s commitment for another successive two-year period. Again,
apparently, trial on the commitment extension was continued, and no trial was held.
Eventually, the two cases were consolidated. Subsequently, in September 2005, the
District Attorney filed a third petition to extend Castillo‟s commitment for yet another
successive two-year period, to October 5, 2007. In January 2006, the three cases were
consolidated for belated trial.
B.
By mid-April 2006, the initiative measure subsequently denominated Proposition
83 (The Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act: Jessica‟s Law) had qualified for
the November 2006 ballot. That measure proposed to amend the SVPA, and other related

1
All further statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code, unless
otherwise noted. Section 6600, subdivision (a)(1), provides: “ „Sexually violent
predator‟ means a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against
one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a
danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in
sexually violent criminal behavior.”
2

statutes, in numerous and wide-ranging ways. (See Voter Information Guide, Gen. Elec.
(Nov. 7, 2006) analysis by Legis. Analyst of Prop. 83, pp. 43-44, id., text of Prop. 83, at
pp. 127-138.) As relevant here, Proposition 83 proposed to adopt the approach followed
by all other states with SVP civil commitment laws, by providing that a person found to
be an SVP would be involuntarily committed, not for a term of two years, but instead
indefinitely. (Voter Information Guide, text of Prop. 83 § 2, subd. (k), at p. 127, id., § 27,
at p. 137 [describing the indeterminate-term procedures of other states]; id., §27, at p. 137
[setting forth an indeterminate term, in revised § 6004].) Even before Proposition 83
officially qualified for the ballot, but in light of that impending initiative measure, Senate
Bill No. 1128 (2005-2006 Reg. Sess.), the Sex Offender Punishment, Control, and
Containment Act of 2006 (Senate Bill No. 1128), was introduced in the Legislature as
urgency legislation — meaning that if passed by both houses of the Legislature by a two-
thirds vote, it would become effective upon signature of the Governor, prior to the
November election. As amended in early March 2006, Senate Bill No. 1128 proposed
numerous amendments to various statutes and to the existing SVPA, including the change
described immediately above: it proposed to provide that a person found to be an SVP be
committed, not for a term of two years, but indefinitely. (Sen. Bill No. 1128, § 63, as
amended Mar. 7, 2009, pp. 104-105.)
The Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 1128, and the Governor signed it as
urgency legislation, effective September 20, 2006, thereby amending the SVPA in the
same manner then proposed by Proposition 83 — that is, providing for indefinite
commitment of a person determined to be an SVP. (Stats. 2006, ch. 337, § 55 [amending
§ 6004].)2

2
Section 6604, as amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 (and subsequently by Prop.
83), provides in relevant part: “If the court or jury determines that the person is a
sexually violent predator, the person shall be committed for an indeterminate term to the
(Footnote continued on next page)
3

As recently observed in People v. Taylor (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 920, 933
(Taylor), the SVPA, as amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 and subsequently by
Proposition 83, “is not a model of legislative drafting.” Neither Senate Bill No. 1128, nor
Proposition 83, amended section 6601, subdivision (a)(2) of the SVPA. That subdivision,
which expressly authorizes the commitment of persons who are “in custody” pursuant to
a prison term, a parole revocation term, or a temporary custody “hold” pending further
evaluation, specifies who may be committed for treatment by the State Department of
Mental Health in a manner that implicitly excludes those persons who currently are
committed as SVP‟s.3 Moreover, nowhere in the statutes as amended by Senate Bill No.
1128, and subsequently by Proposition 83, is there any mention of recommitment
petitions — that is, proceedings to extend the terms of individuals currently committed as
SVP‟s; both Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83 were silent concerning the

(Footnote continued from previous page)
custody of the State Department of Mental Health for appropriate treatment and
confinement in a secure facility designated by the Director of Mental Health.” Section
6604.1, as amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 (and subsequently by Prop. 83), states, in
subdivision (a): “The indeterminate term of commitment provided for in Section 6604
shall commence on the date upon which the court issues the initial order of commitment
pursuant to that section.”

In People v. McKee (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1172, we considered due process, ex post
facto, and equal protection challenges to these amendments. We rejected the defendant‟s
due process and ex post facto challenges. Concerning the equal protection challenge, we
concluded that “the state has not yet carried its burden of demonstrating why SVP‟s, but
not any other ex-felons subject to civil commitment, such as mentally disordered
offenders, are subject to indefinite commitment.” (Id., at p. 1184.) Accordingly, we
remanded “to the trial court to permit the People the opportunity to justify the differential
treatment in accord with established equal protection principles.” (Ibid.)
3
Section 6601, subdivision (a)(2), provides that a petition to commit a person as an
SVP may be filed “if the individual was in custody pursuant to his or her determinate
prison term, parole revocation term, or a hold placed pursuant to Section 6601.3, at the
time the petition is filed.”
4

applicability of these measures to petitions pending on the date those changes became
effective. Indeed, both Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83 amended former section
6604 to delete any reference to recommitments or extension of commitments, or related
procedures.4 As a result, after the 2006 amendments enacted by Senate Bill No. 1128 and
Proposition 83, the SVPA no longer contains any express statutory provision authorizing
recommitment of a person previously committed to the State Department of Mental
Health for treatment as an SVP.
C.
On October 11, 2006, the District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Public
Defender (Public Defender), and the Los Angeles County Superior Court entered into a
stipulation. It read as follows:
“On September 20, 2006 Senate Bill 1128, urgency legislation, was signed into
law by the Governor. Additionally a ballot initiative commonly known as „Jessica‟s
Law‟ is on the ballot in November of 2006. The legislation and the initiative include
language which would lengthen the term of commitment for a SVP from two years to an
indeterminate term. Due to uncertainty in the retroactive application of this change, it is
the intention of the Los Angeles County District Attorney‟s Office to apply the current[5]

4
Former section 6604 provided, in relevant part, that a person found to be an SVP,
and committed for treatment for two years in the custody of the State Department of
Mental Health, “shall not be kept in actual custody longer than two years unless a
subsequent extended commitment is obtained from the court incident to the filing of a
petition for extended commitment under this article . . . .” (As amended by Stats. 2000,
ch. 420, § 3.) This language was deleted by the 2006 amendments made to section 6604.
5
Although the stipulation characterized a two-year commitment term as the
“current” law, in fact the current law as of October 11, 2006, was reflected in Senate Bill
No. 1128, which had removed the two-year commitment term and replaced it with an
indeterminate term. The characterization in the stipulation apparently reflects the
circumstance that the document was substantially negotiated and drafted prior to
September 20, 2006, the effective date of Senate Bill No. 1128 (Stats. 2006, ch. 337,
§ 55).
5

two year commitment period to all currently pending initial commitment petitions, as
limited below, for cases in which the trial and commitment occur after the effective date
of the legislation or the initiative[,] whichever occurs first, hereafter „effective date.‟ For
all cases in which an initial commitment petition is filed after the effective date of the
legislation, the District Attorney‟s office will seek the indeterminate term.
“24 Month Time Limit
“The District Attorney‟s Office will apply the two year commitment period to
pending initial petitions for 24 months after the effective date. For cases in which the
initial order of commitment is issued 24 months or more after the effective date, the
District Attorney‟s Office will seek an indeterminate commitment. The Public
Defender‟s Office does not waive its right to challenge either SB1128 or „Jessica‟s Law,‟
assuming that the latter is passed in November 2006.
“Recommitment Petitions
“For SVPs who have been committed and currently have a pending re-
commitment petition for an extended commitment, the District Attorney‟s Office will file
additional petitions for extended commitments as they become timely pursuant to
Welfare and Institutions Code § 6604.1. The District Attorney’s office will use the filing
criteria and commitment period in effect at the time of filing the re-commitment petitions.
If a pending 2 year re-commitment petition filed prior to the effective date of the bill
and/or initiative has not been tried prior to the expiration of the two-year commitment
period and a new petition is timely filed after the effective date, the District Attorney‟s
Office will pursue an indeterminate term.
“Evaluation Criteria
“Cases which are pending for initial commitment or are evaluated for re-
commitment prior to the effective date of the legislation and/or initiative will be
evaluated based upon criteria currently present in the SVP statutes. Any initial petition or
re-commitment petition filed on or after the effective date of the legislation and/or
6

initiative will be evaluated based upon the language of the legislation or initiative as
passed.
“Tolling of Parole
“Provisions of the legislation tolling the period of parole until after the SVP
completes the term of commitment or recommitment will be applied to a pending petition
immediately following the effective date which might result from the passage of either
legislation or the initiative.” (Italics added.)
The stipulation concluded: “Because it is impossible to predict all implications of
the legislation and initiative, it is not the intent of this agreement to address all potential
issues involving changes in the law. [¶] A copy of this agreement is to be filed in every
SVP case in which a petition or re-petition is pending prior to the effective date of the
legislation and/or initiative.” The document was signed by Jane Blissert as
“Representative — District Attorney,” Robert A. Fefferman as “Representative — Public
Defender,” and David Wesley as “Judge of the Superior Court.” It was dated October 11,
2006.
The stipulation affected scores of persons who were facing an SVP trial and who
were represented by the Public Defender. On October 31, 2006 — a week prior to the
November election, at which the voters would consider whether to enact Proposition
83 — the parties in this case filed a stipulation identical to the one described immediately
above.
At the November 2006 General Election, the voters adopted Proposition 83,
which, as stated earlier (and as relevant here), enacted the same changes to sections 6604
and 6604.1 that had been made by Senate Bill No. 1128.6

6
We observe that, as amended by Proposition 83, section 6604.1, subdivision (b) —
which addresses evaluations by mental health experts designated by the State Department
of Mental Health — refers to “evaluations performed for purposes of extended
(Footnote continued on next page)
7

D.
The jury trial to determine whether Castillo continued to qualify as an SVP during
the three two-year periods commencing in October 2001 finally began in late July 2007.7
Because the facts adduced at trial are not relevant to the issues presented on this appeal,
we note simply that the evidence recounted Castillo‟s history of illegal sexual activities
involving children, and showed that, throughout his SVP commitment, Castillo
essentially refused treatment and remained focused upon creating numerous photographic
collages of children — items that he hid within the covers of magazines. Two
psychologists testified that Castillo suffered from “exclusive” pedophilia, meaning that
he did not engage in age-appropriate sexual activity and was sexually attracted to both
male and female children, and that he posed a high risk of violently reoffending if
released.

(Footnote continued from previous page)
commitments.” (Italics added.) This same language had been in the subdivision prior to
the amendment made by Senate Bill No. 1128, but was eliminated by that bill‟s
amendment to the statute, and hence was not operative at the time the stipulation at issue
in this case was signed. Moreover, and most significantly, as observed ante, pages 4-5,
both 2006 amendments deleted former language providing expressly for extension of
commitments; accordingly, after the 2006 amendments, there existed no statutory
provision expressly authorizing recommitment of a person previously committed to the
State Department of Mental Health for treatment as an SVP.
7
In a memorandum captioned “Advisory to all California District Attorneys,” dated
September 26, 2006, the Attorney General of California explained that “[i]n our opinion,
the indeterminate term language applies to any jury verdict or court finding rendered after
September 20, 2006,” and counseled all district attorneys as follows: “For all cases
pending trial, amend the petition to indicate that the term will be for an indeterminate
term. This measure will help us fend off arguments claiming lack of notice/unfair
surprise.” Despite this advice, but consistent with the stipulation, immediately prior to
trial, on July 30, 2007, the parties refiled the stipulation originally filed on October 31,
2006, calling for a two-year commitment for any person covered by the stipulation.
8

On August 10, 2007, the jury returned a verdict sustaining the People‟s “petition
alleging that . . . Javier Castillo has a currently diagnosed mental disorder and that this
disorder makes him a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he
will engage in sexually violent predatory criminal behavior.”
Consistent with the stipulation described above, the trial court immediately
ordered Castillo committed to the State Department of Mental Health for three
consecutive two-year periods — one for each of the three consolidated matters, running
from October 5, 2001, through October 5, 2007. The trial court also immediately
arraigned Castillo on a new SVP petition (case No. ZM011971), and found probable
cause to proceed (on a new commitment, this one for an indeterminate term) “ „based on
the trial that was just completed and the evidence that was taken in that trial as well as the
documents filed by the [District Attorney] in this petition.‟ ” As observed by the
appellate court below, “[t]here is no indication in the record that a new commitment has
been imposed in case No. ZM011971.”
Castillo filed a timely appeal from the commitment order, raising various
evidentiary objections and other claims. The People, represented by the Attorney
General, did not appeal from the judgment, but sought to contravene the contentions
raised in Castillo‟s brief. The Attorney General further argued that the court‟s order,
committing Castillo to a series of two-year terms ending October, 2007 (consistently with
the stipulation signed by the parties and the superior court), was invalid because it was in
derogation of the indeterminate commitment term specified by Senate Bill No. 1128 and
Proposition 83 — both of which were enacted (and became effective) prior to Castillo‟s
jury trial and commitment. Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael P. Judge filed
an amicus curiae brief in the Court of Appeal, attaching as exhibits copies of two letters,
dated June 2, 2008 (by L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley) and August 25, 2008
(by Jane Blissert, head deputy district attorney, sex crimes div. in Cooley‟s office), each
addressed to the Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, State of California.
9

In these letters, the authors made various factual assertions concerning the background of
and motivation for the stipulation.
The Court of Appeal rejected Castillo‟s contentions. The appellate court then
addressed the Attorney General‟s assertion that the trial court‟s order committing Castillo
to a series of two-year terms was invalid in light of the indeterminate commitment period
specified by Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83. The court first observed that,
although the most recent of the three two-year terms covered by the trial court‟s
commitment order had expired on October 5, 2007 (within a few weeks of the trial on the
consolidated commitment proceedings), the matter was not moot.8 Thereafter, the Court
of Appeal rejected Castillo‟s argument that the Attorney General was estopped from
taking a position contrary to that advanced by the District Attorney in the stipulation
below. The Court of Appeal concluded: “[E]stoppel does not apply when enforcement
of the stipulation would be contrary to the Legislature‟s plain directive, would entail a
serious risk to public safety, and where the party seeking estoppel did not detrimentally
rely on the position advanced by the public entity below.” The appellate court also
concluded that even when, as here, “the prosecution has broken its promise, specific

8
The Court of Appeal explained: “The underlying order involved three
consolidated petitions seeking separate two-year recommitments — case Nos.
ZM004837, ZM006562, and ZM009280. The commitment order was issued on August
10, 2007, with the third two-year commitment period running from October 5, 2005, to
October 5, 2007. That period expired prior to the filing of the opening brief in this
appeal. However, on the date of his recommitment on the consolidated petitions, Castillo
was arraigned on a new SVP petition, case No. ZM011971. He denied the new
allegations, but the trial court found probable cause to proceed „based on the trial that was
just completed and the evidence that was taken in that trial as well as the documents filed
by the [district attorney] in this petition.‟ There is no indication in the record that a new
commitment has been imposed in case No. ZM011971 which might render this appeal
moot. To the contrary, this record establishes only that Castillo‟s current commitment is
a function of the underlying [multiple two-year] commitment order, and the issue of that
order‟s validity is [therefore] not moot.”
10

performance” is neither a favored nor required remedy. The Court of Appeal modified
Castillo‟s commitment order “to reflect the indeterminate term mandated by the SVPA as
modified by [Sen. Bill No. 1128 and] Proposition 83.”
In response to Castillo‟s petition for review, both the Public Defender and the
District Attorney urged us to grant review. After we granted review, both the Public
Defender and the District Attorney filed amicus curiae briefs supporting Castillo‟s
position that the stipulation should be enforced, contrary to the position taken by the
Attorney General.
II.
Castillo asserts that the Attorney General should be estopped from taking a
position contrary to that stipulated to by the District Attorney below. He relies first and
primarily upon the doctrine of judicial estoppel.9
“ „ “Judicial estoppel precludes a party from gaining an advantage by taking one
position, and then seeking a second advantage by taking an incompatible position.
[Citations.] The doctrine’s dual goals are to maintain the integrity of the judicial system
and to protect parties from opponents’ unfair strategies. [Citation.] Application of the
doctrine is discretionary.” ‟ [Citation.] The doctrine applies when „(1) the same party
has taken two positions; (2) the positions were taken in judicial or quasi-judicial
administrative proceedings; (3) the party was successful in asserting the first position
(i.e., the tribunal adopted the position or accepted it as true); (4) the two positions are
totally inconsistent; and (5) the first position was not taken as a result of ignorance, fraud,
or mistake.‟ [Citations.]” (Aguilar v. Lerner (2004) 32 Cal.4th 974, 986-987, italics

9
Castillo also relies upon the doctrines of equitable estoppel (see post, fn. 10) and
promissory estoppel (see post, fn. 11).
11

added (Aguilar); see also MW Erectors, Inc. v. Niederhauser Ornamental & Metal Works
Co., Inc. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 412, 422 (MW Erectors).)
Castillo asserts that each of these five elements is met: (1) the People have taken
two different positions — the District Attorney, representing the People at trial, signed
the stipulation; the Attorney General, representing the People on appeal, argues that the
stipulation is invalid and unenforceable; (2) these positions have been taken in judicial
proceedings; (3) the People successfully asserted in the trial court that the stipulation
should be enforced; (4) the two positions taken by the People are wholly inconsistent
with each other; and finally (5) the People did not agree to the stipulation as a result of
ignorance, fraud, or mistake; instead, the decision apparently was an informed and
considered one.
The Attorney General does not contest Castillo‟s assertion that all five elements of
the judicial estoppel doctrine are met in this case. Instead, the Attorney General focuses
much of his brief upon the proposition that, as held by the Court of Appeal below,
Castillo cannot satisfy the “detrimental reliance” requirement for application of equitable
estoppel10 or the “induced action or forbearance” requirement of promissory estoppel.11

10
“ „The doctrine of equitable estoppel is founded on concepts of equity and fair
dealing. It provides that a person may not deny the existence of a state of facts if he
intentionally led another to believe a particular circumstance to be true and to rely upon
such belief to his detriment. The elements of the doctrine are that (1) the party to be
estopped must be apprised of the facts; (2) he must intend that his conduct shall be acted
upon, or must so act that the party asserting the estoppel has a right to believe it was so
intended; (3) the other party must be ignorant of the true state of facts; and (4) he must
rely upon the conduct to his injury.‟ ” (City of Goleta v. Superior Court (2006) 40
Cal.4th 270, 279 (Goleta), quoting City of Long Beach v. Mansell (1970) 3 Cal.3d 462,
488 (Mansell).)
11
Under the doctrine of promissory estoppel, “ „[a] promise which the promisor
should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance on the part of the promisee . . .
and which does induce such action or forbearance is binding if injustice can be avoided
only by enforcement of the promise. The remedy granted for the breach may be limited
(Footnote continued on next page)
12

Castillo advances colorable arguments to the contrary. But regardless of whether, on the
facts of this case, detrimental reliance or induced forbearance can be established for
purposes of equitable estoppel or promissory estoppel, that question simply has no
relevance to application of judicial estoppel. The doctrine of judicial estoppel is designed
to protect the integrity of the legal system as a whole, and does not require a showing of
detrimental reliance by a party. (Aguilar, supra, 32 Cal.4th 974, 986-987; MW Erectors,
supra, 36 Cal.4th 412, 422.)
III.
We do not invariably enforce the judicial estoppel doctrine merely because all of
its elements are met. “[N]umerous decisions have made clear that judicial estoppel [like
the other forms of estoppel] is an equitable doctrine, and its application . . . is
discretionary. [Citations.]” (MW Erectors, supra, 36 Cal.4th 412, 422.) For example,
we held in MW Erectors that judicial estoppel cannot be invoked to contravene the
“strong and clear statutory mandate” against collection of compensation for the
performance of an act for which a contractor‟s license was required but not possessed.
(Id., at p. 423.)12

(Footnote continued from previous page)
as justice requires.‟ [Citations.] Promissory estoppel is „a doctrine which employs
equitable principles to satisfy the requirement that consideration must be given in
exchange for the promise sought to be enforced.‟ ” (Kajima/Ray Wilson v. Los Angeles
County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2000) 23 Cal.4th 305, 310.)
12
As the Attorney General observes, in the related context of equitable estoppel, we
have held that such an estoppel may apply against a governmental body (see Mansell,
supra, 3 Cal.3d 462, 488), but only “ „in unusual instances when necessary to avoid grave
injustice and when the result will not defeat a strong public policy.‟ ” (Goleta, supra, 40
Cal.4th 270, 279; accord, Mansell, supra, 3 Cal.3d at p. 493 [it is “well-established . . .
that an estoppel will not be applied against the government if to do so would effectively
nullify „a strong rule of policy, adopted for the benefit of the public‟ ”].) Likewise, we
similarly have held that promissory estoppel will not be applied against the government if
doing so would effectively nullify a strong rule of public policy, adopted for the benefit
(Footnote continued on next page)
13

A.
Before considering whether judicial estoppel should apply in this case, we address
initially a procedural matter concerning the record in this appeal. As the Attorney
General observes in his answer brief, the two “background information” letters that we
noted earlier (from the District Attorney and one of his head deputies, addressed to the
Atty. Gen.; see ante, pp. 9-10), postdate the trial in this case and have not been made part
of the record on appeal. Moreover, neither the Court of Appeal below, nor this court, has
been asked by Castillo (or either of the two amici curiae who have filed briefs on his
behalf in this court) to take judicial notice of those letters. Instead, Castillo and the amici
curiae on his behalf simply recite and submit for our consideration various facts asserted
in those letters.13
Although we could take judicial notice of the existence, content, and authenticity
of such letters,14 doing so would not establish the truth of critical factual matters asserted
in those documents. (Mangini v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1057,
1063.) As we observed in Mangini, although “courts may notice official acts and public
records, „we do not take judicial notice of the truth of all matters stated therein.‟

(Footnote continued from previous page)
of the public. (San Marcos Water Dist. v. San Marcos Unified School Dist. (1986) 42
Cal.3d 154, 167-168.) Related cautions apply with respect to application of judicial
estoppel, even if all elements of that doctrine are met. (See MW Erectors, supra, 36
Cal.4th 412, 422-423.)
13
The brief filed by amicus curiae District Attorney does not cite to or quote from
the letters. It instead simply reasserts (without citation to the record) various facts
initially asserted in those letters.
14
We properly may take notice of official letters sent by a county entity to a state
constitutional officer. (See Cruz v. County of Los Angeles (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 1131,
1134 [action taken pursuant to a customary practice of county agency constitutes an
“official act” of which judicial notice may be taken under Evid. Code, § 452, subd. (c)].)
14

[Citations.] „[T]he taking of judicial notice of the official acts of a governmental entity
does not in and of itself require acceptance of the truth of factual matters which might be
deduced therefrom, since in many instances what is being noticed, and thereby
established, is no more than the existence of such acts and not, without supporting
evidence, what might factually be associated with or flow therefrom.‟ ” (Id., at pp. 1063-
1064.)
In essence, by relying in part, in their briefs, upon factual assertions contained in
the two letters, defendant and the amici curiae who have filed briefs on his behalf in this
court seek to augment the record on appeal “in contravention of the general rule that an
appellate court generally is not the forum in which to develop an additional factual
record.” (People v. Peevy (1998) 17 Cal.4th 1184, 1207 [rejecting defendant‟s attempts
in the appellate court to present evidence of widespread police misconduct]; see People v.
Jones (1997) 15 Cal.4th 119, 171, fn. 17 [record on appeal will not be augmented to add
material not a proper part of the record in the trial court]; Doers v. Golden Gate Bridge
etc. Dist. (1979) 23 Cal.3d 180, 184, fn. 1 [“As a general rule, documents not before the
trial court cannot be included as a part of the record on appeal”].)
Castillo asserts in his brief, and emphasized at oral argument, that “when the
proceedings that would ultimately become the record on appeal were being conducted, no
one had any reason . . . to make a clear record” concerning matters such as the
background facts that motivated the parties and the superior court to enter into the
stipulation. That may be true — and perhaps especially so because a representative of the
presiding judge of the superior court was a signatory to the document — but that
circumstance still leaves this court without authority to augment the record on appeal by
15

accepting or assuming the truth of assertions set forth in the letters and briefs but not
reflected in the record.15
Accordingly, in resolving this appeal, we do not rely upon — nor do we accept as
true — the background factual assertions contained in the letters and the briefs but not
reflected in the record. We instead confine ourselves to the record on appeal — that is,
the proceedings conducted in this case and the stipulation itself.
B.
Should judicial estoppel apply to enforce the stipulation and bar the imposition of
an indeterminate term of civil commitment in place of the two-year term imposed by the
trial court? Bearing in mind that the “ „ “doctrine‟s dual goals are to maintain the
integrity of the judicial system and to protect parties from opponents‟ unfair
strategies” ‟ ” (Aguilar, supra, 32 Cal.4th 974, 986), as explained below we conclude
that, in light of the uncertain state of the law at the time the stipulation was signed and
enforced in the present case and the parties‟ evident intent, in signing the agreement, to
avoid the unwarranted dismissal of long-pending SVP petitions, the stipulation should be
enforced under the judicial estoppel doctrine, and that the contrary judgment rendered by
the Court of Appeal should be reversed.
1.
We address initially the first of the dual goals of the judicial estoppel doctrine —
to “ „ “maintain the integrity of the judicial system. ” ‟ ” (Aguilar, supra, 32 Cal.4th 974,
986.) Achieving this goal appears to require that any stipulation entered into, in apparent
good faith, by the legal representatives of both parties as well as the presiding judge of
15
Nor can we accept the suggestion of amicus curiae in this court, the Public
Defender, that merely because the two letters were appended to the brief it filed in the
Court of Appeal below, and the Attorney General failed to object to those exhibits, these
documents have become part of the record on appeal and thus this court may accept as
true the factual assertions set out in the letters.
16

the superior court, should — if at all possible — be honored. To do otherwise would risk
impairing the integrity of the judicial system.
We proceed to consider, as best we can based upon the limited record before us
(see ante, pt. III.A.), the circumstances confronting the parties at the time the stipulation
was negotiated and then eventually signed on October 11, 2006, three weeks after the
effective date of Senate Bill No. 1128. As alluded to in the stipulation itself (“[d]ue to
uncertainty in the retroactive application of this change . . . ”) and explained, post, in part
III.B.1.a., during this period — and, indeed, continuing until at least early 2008 — there
existed substantial legal uncertainty concerning the status of, and procedures to be
employed in, proceedings (such as the one here at issue) to extend the commitment of a
person already adjudged to be an SVP. Moreover, as explained post, in part III.B.1.b., in
addition to the legal uncertainty created by the 2006 amendments to the SVPA, with
regard to Castillo and others who were being represented by the Public Defender and
were subject to pending SVP trials, there existed the possibility that the petitions to
extend the respective commitments might be dismissed — hence releasing these
individuals from the strictures of the SVPA — based upon the state‟s failure to bring the
matters to trial in a reasonably timely fashion.
a.
As observed earlier, the SVPA, in section 6601, subdivision (a)(2) — which was
not altered by the 2006 amendments — specifies those persons who are subject to
involuntary treatment as an SVP and authorizes their commitment, but that statute does
not authorize recommitment of a person previously committed to a term of confinement
as an SVP. Indeed, as noted ante, at pages 4-5, nowhere in the statutory scheme as
amended in 2006 is there any mention of or provision for recommitment petitions or
proceedings to extend existing commitments. Senate Bill No. 1128 and Prop. 83 each
was silent concerning its applicability to petitions that were pending at the time of the
effective date of those changes, and each amended former section 6604 to delete any
17

reference to recommitment or extension of existing commitments, or to procedures
relating thereto.16 This statute, as amended in 2006 by Senate Bill No. 1128 (and
subsequently by Prop. 83), simply provides in relevant part that a person found to be an
SVP “shall be committed for an indeterminate term to the custody of the State
Department of Mental Health for appropriate treatment and confinement in a secure
facility designated by the Director of Mental Health.” Section 6604.1, as amended by
Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83, provides in relevant part that “[t]he
indeterminate term of commitment provided for in Section 6604 shall commence on the
date upon which the court issues the initial order of commitment pursuant to that
section.” (§ 6604.1, subd. (a).) Accordingly, after the 2006 amendments, the SVPA
contained no express statutory provision authorizing recommitment of a person
previously committed to a term of confinement as an SVP.
It therefore is apparent that when the stipulation was negotiated — and even when
it was signed on October 11, 2006, after the effective date of Senate Bill No. 1128 —
there existed substantial legal uncertainties concerning the status of, and procedures to be
employed in, proceedings to extend the existing commitment of a person adjudged to be
an SVP.
Specifically, seen from the perspective of Castillo‟s position, it was possible
courts might conclude that in light of the narrow authorization for commitments set out in
section 6601, subdivision (a)(2), and because all references to extension of an existing
SVP commitment had been removed from section 6604, the SVPA as amended in 2006
contained no express statutory provision authorizing recommitment of a person
previously committed to a term of confinement as an SVP — and hence the statutory

16
As observed ante, footnote 4, former section 6604 provided for extension of
commitments, but that language was deleted by the 2006 amendments to that statute.
18

scheme did not permit recommitment (or extension of commitment) proceedings at all. In
other words, it could be argued that, under the statutes as amended, there could be no
extension of any existing SVP term, to an indeterminate term or otherwise. Alternatively,
from that perspective, it also was possible a court might conclude, by analogy to the
decision in Baker v. Superior Court (1984) 35 Cal.3d 663 (holding that despite the
Legislature‟s repeal of Mentally Disordered Sex Offender laws, persons already
committed under those provisions were subject to recommitment under the repealed
laws), that although the amendments removed references to and procedures for extension
of commitment, the deleted two-year extension aspects of the former statute would be
revived and remain effective for all persons in Castillo‟s situation — that is, persons who
had been initially committed, and whose recommitment petitions were awaiting trial prior
to the effective dates of the amendments.
From the perspective of the District Attorney‟s position, it was possible courts
might conclude that pursuant to amended section 6604.1, every “initial” order of
commitment as an SVP for a two-year term, issued prior to the 2006 amendments, would
convert retroactively into an order of commitment for an indeterminate term, thereby
avoiding the need for any subsequent recommitment trial. Alternatively, from the
perspective of the District Attorney, it was possible that the 2006 amendments would be
construed as subjecting to an indeterminate term any person whose SVP trial (whether
resulting in an initial commitment or a recommitment) occurred after the effective date of
the 2006 amendments.
Eventually, of course, appellate decisions, construing over the course of the years
the 2006 amendments, have resolved these problems and uncertainties.17 But at the time

17
On September 21, 2007, the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, decided People v.
Shields (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 559 (Shields). The appellate court noted in its decision
that prior to trial, which was held after the enactment of Senate Bill No. 1128 but before
(Footnote continued on next page)
19


(Footnote continued from previous page)
the effective date of Proposition 83, the People amended the petition, so as to seek an
indeterminate term instead of a two-year term. (155 Cal.App.4th at p. 562.) The
appellate court rejected an argument that the literal language of the 2006 amendments left
courts without authority to order the recommitment of a person who already was
committed as an SVP at the time of the amendment (id., at pp. 563-564), and concluded
that enforcing the plain language of the statutes would, in this instance, “ „ “result in [an]
absurd consequence[] which the Legislature did not intend.” ‟ ” (Id., at p. 564.) Finally,
the appellate court summarily determined that “the indeterminate term provisions of
section 6604 apply” to persons who are recommitted as SVP‟s. (Id., at p. 564.)

On November 14, 2007, the Court of Appeal, Third District, decided Bourquez v.
Superior Court (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 1275 (Bourquez). Prior to trial, the People had
notified the SVP‟s of the People‟s intent to apply Proposition 83 (and the new
indeterminate term provision) to the pending petitions at issue. (Id., at p. 1282.) The
appellate court agreed with the jurisdictional conclusion reached in Shields, albeit based
upon a more probing analysis (Bourquez, at pp. 1283-1288), and further concurred that in
trials conducted after the effective dates of the 2006 amendments, the new indeterminate
term of commitment should be imposed. (Id., at pp. 1288-1289.) The court rejected a
claim that doing so would constitute a retroactive application of the law: “Because a
proceeding to extend commitment under the SVPA focuses on the person‟s current
mental state, applying the indeterminate term of commitment of Proposition 83 does not
attach new legal consequences to conduct that was completed before the effective date of
the law.” (Id., at p. 1289.)

On December 27, 2007, the Court of Appeal, Fifth District, decided People v.
Carroll (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 503 (Carroll). The court noted that immediately prior to
trial, the prosecutor, with apparent acquiescence by the defendant, struck the petition‟s
language seeking a two-year term, and substituted language seeking an indeterminate
term. (Id., at pp. 507-508.) Thereafter the appellate court rejected an argument that “the
law in effect at the time the petition was filed should control, so that the trial court was
authorized to recommit [the defendant] only for a two-year, not an indeterminate term.”
(Id., at pp. 508-509.) The court further agreed with the conclusion reached in Shields,
supra, 155 Cal.App.4th 559, and Bourquez, supra, 156 Cal.App.4th 1275, that despite the
2006 amendments‟ removal of express authority for recommitments, courts nevertheless
retained authority to order the recommitment of a person who was then currently already
committed as an SVP (Carroll, at pp. 508-510), and it agreed with the conclusion in
Bourquez that in a trial held after the effective dates of the 2006 amendments, imposition
of the new indeterminate term does not constitute a retroactive application of the statute
(Carroll, at pp. 512-515).

On March 3, 2008, the Court of Appeal, Sixth District, decided People v. Whaley
(2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 779 (Whaley). The court reversed a trial court‟s order that
(Footnote continued on next page)
20

the stipulation was negotiated and signed in 2006 (and continuing until at least early
2008 — see ante, fn. 17), no one could predict with any degree of certainty how the
amendments would be construed as applied to persons in Castillo‟s circumstances. It was

(Footnote continued from previous page)
retroactively converted a two-year SVP commitment, rendered prior to the effective dates
of the 2006 amendments, into an indeterminate term of commitment. The appellate court
explained that such retroactive application of the amendments was not intended by the
voters. (Whaley, at pp. 794-804.) In reaching that conclusion, the court rejected the
People‟s argument that the language of section 6604.1, subdivision (a) (“[t]he
indeterminate term of commitment provided for in Section 6604 shall commence on the
date upon which the court issues the initial order of commitment pursuant to that section”
[italics added]) indicated intent to reach back and retroactively convert into indeterminate
commitments the terms of those persons who already had been committed under the
SVPA. (160 Cal.App.4th at p. 798.) Instead, the court held, “we construe the reference
to an „initial‟ order in section 6604.1, subdivision (a), as reflecting when the commitment
term begins for a person first committed to an indeterminate term, rather than
demonstrating intent by the voters to retroactively apply an indeterminate term to those
already committed.” (Ibid.) The court concluded: “[T]he provisions of amended
sections 6604 and 6604.1 may be applied prospectively to all pending and future
commitment proceedings.” (Id., at p. 799, original italics.)

Most recently, in June 2009, the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, decided Taylor,
supra, 174 Cal.App.4th 920. Consistently with Whaley, supra, 160 Cal.App.4th 779, the
appellate court reversed trial court orders that retroactively had converted two-year SVP
commitments, rendered prior to the effective dates of the 2006 amendments, into
indeterminate terms of commitment, and the court remanded the case for new trials at
which, consistent with Shields, supra, 155 Cal.App.4th 559, and Bourquez, supra, 156
Cal.App.4th 1275, the defendants would be subject to indeterminate terms of
commitment. (Taylor, at pp. 932-934.) The court also rejected due process, equal
protection, and ex post facto challenges to the imposition of indeterminate terms, while at
the same time noting that such issues were pending before us — see People v. McKee,
supra, 47 Cal.4th 1172, briefly discussed ante, footnote 2. (Taylor, supra, 174
Cal.App.4th at pp. 928-931, 934-937.)
21

simply uncertain, and unknowable, how courts eventually would resolve these and related
questions.18
In summary, in the summer of 2006, the following scenarios were possible with
respect to Castillo and the scores of persons subject to pending recommitment trials,
represented by the Public Defender. Many if not all of these SVP‟s might have
successfully advanced the argument that, in light of section 6601, subdivision (a)(2) and
the 2006 amendments, there could be no extension of any currently existing SVP term.
Although, in retrospect, it may seem apparent such an argument was unlikely to prevail,
there were other options and arguments that posed a greater chance of success for Castillo
and those in his position. Some persons might have been accorded prompt trials, and in
turn some of them would have received either two-year SVP commitments or
indeterminate terms, depending upon when the trial occurred and how the amended
statutes would be construed. Alternatively, some of these persons might have been found
to no longer qualify as SVP‟s, and hence would have been released from the strictures of
the SVPA. Still others might have had their trials continued yet again, possibly for good
cause.19 In any event, it is apparent that, at the time the stipulation was negotiated and
then finally signed on October 11, 2006 — and until at least early 2008 — there existed

18
Castillo urges that Shields, supra, 155 Cal.App.4th 559, Carroll, supra, 158
Cal.App.4th 503, Bourquez, supra, 156 Cal.App.4th 1275, and Whaley, supra, 160
Cal.App.4th 779 (see ante, fn. 17), all were wrongly decided insofar as they hold that (1)
trial courts retained jurisdiction over petitions seeking to recommit persons as SVP‟s after
the 2006 amendments, and (2) the litigants in those cases whose petitions were pending
prior to the 2006 amendments were subject to the indeterminate term authorized by the
2006 amendments. We perceive no basis for questioning these legal conclusions reached
in those cases, or for questioning the propriety of recommitment proceedings instituted
after the amendments took effect.
19
Yet others might have had their trials continued without good cause, as discussed
in part III.B.1.b., post, triggering the possibility of meritorious due process claims.
22

substantial legal uncertainty concerning how the 2006 amendments would apply to
Castillo and to others similarly situated.
b.
In addition to the legal uncertainties created by the 2006 amendments to the
SVPA, at the same time there existed a reasonable possibility that Castillo and others
who were being represented by the Public Defender, and who were subject to pending
SVP trials, might succeed in having their petitions dismissed — hence securing release
from the strictures of the SVPA — based upon the state‟s failure to bring cases to trial in
a reasonably timely fashion. In this latter respect — the prospect of outright dismissal of
long-pending SVP petitions — the decision in People v. Litmon (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th
383 (Litmon) is instructive in assessing the situation faced by the parties and the court at
the time the stipulation was negotiated and signed, and hence we describe that case in
some detail.
Litmon, the appellant, was found in mid-2000 to qualify as an SVP, and thereafter
petitions were filed to extend his commitment for a series of two-year terms. A trial
concerning Litmon‟s first extended two-year term (May 2002 to May 2004) was not held
until September 2005, when he belatedly was found to have continued to qualify as an
SVP during the May 2002 to May 2004 period. In March 2006, Litmon faced trial on
consolidated petitions seeking two-year commitments for the periods from May 2004 to
May 2006, and from May 2006 to May 2008. The jury deadlocked, and the court
declared a mistrial. In April 2006, the court discussed scheduling a new trial, noting that
the prosecutor‟s trial schedule reflected his unavailability until January 2007, but that
counsel for the appellant had announced readiness to proceed “next week,” stressing that
23

this was her client‟s desire. (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 391-392.)20 The court
proceeded to continue the trial until January 2007. (Id., at p. 392.)
In August 2006, Litmon filed a motion to dismiss, citing, among other cases,
Barker v. Wingo (1972) 407 U.S. 514 (Barker) (addressing the Sixth Amend. right to a
speedy trial), and arguing that postponement of the retrial from April 2006 until January
2007 violated his due process right to a hearing within a “meaningful time.” (Litmon,
supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 392.) The People urged in opposition that the delay was
reasonable and observed that, in any event, the SVPA provided no speedy-trial guarantee.
The trial court refused to dismiss the case, stating that (1) there was no right to a speedy
trial in SVPA cases, (2) “ „the Court does not have the authority to dismiss the case based
upon the premise that you put forth in your motion to dismiss,‟ ” and (3) both counsel
were engaged in other SVPA trials “ „and we can only do so many at a time and therefore
[January 2007] is the next available date . . . .‟ ” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383,
393.)
Thereafter, as noted above, in September 2006 the Legislature enacted Senate Bill
No. 1128, and in November 2006 the voters enacted Proposition 83 — both of which
amended section 6604 to provide for an indeterminate commitment rather than a two-year
commitment.
In early January 2007, the People again moved to continue Litmon‟s rescheduled
SVP trial, on the ground that their expert witnesses would not be available as originally
planned. (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 393.) Litmon opposed the continuance

20
As explained in Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 392, counsel also brought to
the trial court‟s attention language in a prior case involving her client, Litmon v. Superior
Court (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 1156, in which the appellate court had suggested that Code
of Civil Procedure section 36, subdivision (e), might support the expeditious scheduling
of SVP trials “well before the expiration of the . . . two-year commitment period at issue
in the trial.” (Litmon v. Superior Court, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th 1156, 1172.)
24

and again moved to dismiss, advancing in essence the same arguments he had made in his
earlier motion. The trial court again found good cause to continue the proceedings,
denied the renewed motion to dismiss, and set trial for mid-March 2007.
In early March 2007, the People moved to impose retroactively an indeterminate
term under the amended provisions of the SVPA. In other words, they sought to convert
Litmon‟s initial order of commitment — from mid-2000, for a two-year term — into a
new indeterminate term of commitment. The trial court granted the motion, ordering that
Litmon‟s “ „term of commitment is indeterminate retroactive to his initial order of
commitment” in mid-2000. (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 394.)21
On appeal, the court in Litmon held the trial court had erred in (1) failing to grant
Litmon‟s January 2007 motion to dismiss the consolidated petitions (Litmon, supra, 162
Cal.App.4th at pp. 394-406) and (2) retroactively converting Litmon‟s term of
commitment into an indeterminate term (id., at pp. 407-412). We focus here on the first
of these holdings.
The appellate court in Litmon first reviewed long-established procedural due
process decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Those cases explain that
substantive rights relating to “life, liberty, and property . . . cannot be deprived except
pursuant to constitutionally adequate procedures” (Cleveland Board of Education v.
Loudermill (1985) 470 U.S. 532, 541) — and they enforce, in various settings, the
fundamental due process right to be heard “ „at a meaningful time and in a meaningful
manner.‟ ” (Mathews v. Eldridge (1976) 424 U.S. 319, 333 [process required prior to
termination of disability benefits] (Mathews)); see also Barker, supra, 407 U.S. 514.) As

21
As observed ante, footnote 17, until this aspect of the 2006 amendments
eventually was clarified in early March 2008 (in Whaley, supra, 160 Cal.App.4th 779),
other trial courts erroneously had entered similar orders, retroactively converting initial
two-year commitment terms into indeterminate terms.
25

observed in Fuentes v. Shevin (1972) 407 U.S. 67, 81, regarding the process required
concerning prejudgment replevin statutes: “If the right to notice and a hearing is to serve
its full purpose, . . . it must be granted at a time when the deprivation can still be
prevented.” The high court has explained: “We tolerate some exceptions to the general
rule requiring predeprivation notice and hearing, but only in „ “extraordinary situations
where some valid governmental interest is at stake that justifies postponing the hearing
until after the event.” ‟ ” (See also United States v. James Daniel Good Real Property
(1993) 510 U.S. 43, 53.) Indeed, even when a postdeprivation hearing is justified, “[a]t
some point, a delay in the . . . hearing would become a constitutional violation.”
(Loudermill, supra, 470 U.S. 532, 547.)
Based upon this authority, and other high court cases applying these principles in
the context of involuntary civil commitment and treatment (see Heller v. Doe (1993) 509
U.S. 312 [concerning procedures relating to involuntary commitment of mentally
retarded persons]; Washington v. Harper (1990) 494 U.S. 210 [state prison inmate has no
right to a judicial hearing prior to being forcibly medicated with antipsychotic drugs];
Addington v. Texas (1979) 441 U.S. 418 [concerning standard of proof in an involuntary
civil commitment proceeding]), the appellate court in Litmon concluded that although a
person alleged by petition to be an SVP has no statutory “speedy trial” right, such a
person nevertheless has a federal due process right “to be heard at a „meaningful time.‟ ”
(Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 399; see also People v. Otto (2001) 26 Cal.4th 200,
209 [“Because civil commitment involves a significant deprivation of liberty, a defendant
in an SVP proceeding is entitled to due process protections”].) Applying the three-part
balancing test set out in Mathews, supra, 424 U.S. 319, the court in Litmon determined
that (1) forced civil confinement for mental health treatment constitutes “ „ “a massive
curtailment of liberty,” ‟ ” requiring due process protection (Litmon, supra, 162
26

Cal.App.4th at p. 400); (2) “ „the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through
the procedures used [citation], is considerable‟ ” (ibid.);22 and (3) although the state‟s
interest in confinement and treatment of SVP‟s is very substantial, the state also has an
interest in avoiding the unjustified commitment of persons who do not qualify as SVP‟s
(Litmon, at p. 401). The court concluded that “[g]iven these competing factors” — and
because “under California law, the individual alleged to be an SVP is confined pending
final determination of an SVP petition” — it follows that the “norm to comport with the
demands of procedural due process in the context of involuntary SVP commitments must
be a trial in advance of the potential commitment term.” (Ibid., italics added.) The court
added: “A predeprivation trial is certainly feasible since persons potentially subject to
commitment as an SVP are identified while incarcerated in prison or confined under a
prior SVP commitment.” (Id., at p. 402.)
The court in Litmon recognized that the appellant in that case did not claim “that
he was constitutionally entitled to a trial prior to expiration of his last ordered term of
commitment on May 2, 2004 and he is not complaining about the delay prior to the trial-
setting hearing in April 2006. While we focus on the months of delay following that
hearing, it is significant that at the time of that hearing appellant’s last order of
recommitment had expired almost two years earlier and the first of the two recommitment
terms at issue was about to expire on May 2, 2006. Further, the March 2006 mistrial as
the result of a hung jury emphasized the possibility that appellant might not be

22
In this regard, the court observed: “Appellant has already experienced an
extended confinement without any determination that he was an SVP under the second
and third recommitment petitions. The loss of liberty following May 2, 2004, the date his
last order of commitment expired, is irretrievable regardless of the outcome of trial. The
risk of error is highlighted here by the mistrial declared more than two years ago, in
March 2006, after jurors could not reach a decision.” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th at
p. 400.)
27

determined to be an SVP at trial. In considering the constitutionality of the challenged
delay, the fact [that] appellant continued in confinement pending trial under the
consolidated second and third petitions is highly relevant and necessarily informs our due
process analysis.” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 402-403, italics added.) The
appellate court next considered the People‟s argument that the delay of 11 months was
not undue, “ „[g]iven the need for updated evaluations to ascertain appellant‟s current
mental condition, the complexity involved in incorporating past testimony into legal
strategy and the time it takes to ensure the presence for trial of both state evaluators[23]

23
With regard to the state‟s problem of obtaining mental-health expert evaluations in
SVP cases — a concern that has been exacerbated by the expanded pool of inmates
subject to such evaluations under the 2006 amendments to the SVPA — see Statutes
2008, chapter 601, section 1, which sets forth the following legislative declaration: “(a)
There is within the State Department of Mental Health the Sex Offender Commitment
Program (SOCP). The SOCP exists to implement the provisions of the sexually violent
predator civil commitment program (Article 4 (commencing with Section 6600) of Part 2
of Division 6 of the Welfare and Institutions Code). [¶] (b) The sexually violent
predator civil commitment program requires clinical evaluations of potential sexually
violent predators for possible commitment in order to provide treatment, as well as to
protect California‟s citizens from possible victimization by sexually violent predators.
[¶] (c) Persons referred to the SOCP by the Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation as possible sexually violent predators and who meet the preliminary
screening criteria must undergo precommitment evaluations by at least two professionals
who meet the requirements specified in Section 6601 of the Welfare and Institutions
Code. [¶] (d) It is difficult for the state to recruit and retain individuals with the
required expertise within the civil service. [¶] (e) Evaluations must be conducted in a
timely manner to avoid the release into society of possible sexually violent predators. [¶]
(f) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure the protection of California‟s residents by
providing the State Department of Mental Health with the necessary flexibility in
obtaining experienced professionals, both within the civil service and through contracts,
so that sexually violent predator evaluations can occur within the statutory timeframe.”
(Italics added; see also Stats. 2008, ch. 601, § 2 [amending § 6601 and adding subd. (m),
requiring a report concerning the state‟s efforts to hire qualified state employees to
conduct the evaluations required by the SVPA]; Piller & Romney, Jessica’s Law Pays
Dividend for Some (Aug. 10, 2008) L.A. Times [describing fees paid to private-contractor
mental-health experts in order to evaluate the expanded pool of inmates under Prop. 83].)
28

and defense experts at trial . . . .‟ ” (Id., at p. 403.) The appellate court responded
brusquely to this argument: “This proffered justification reflects a „business as usual‟
approach to trial scheduling despite the ongoing deprivation of personal liberty that was
occurring.” (Ibid.)
The court in Litmon observed: “[C]hronic, systematic postdeprivation delays in
SVP cases that only the government can rectify must be factored against the People.
While delays based upon the uncontrollable unavailability of a critical witness may be
justifiable [citation], postdeprivation delays due to the unwillingness or inability of the
government to dedicate the resources necessary to ensure a prompt SVPA trial may be
unjustifiable. Just as „unreasonable delay in run-of-the-mill criminal cases cannot be
justified by simply asserting that the public resources provided by the State‟s criminal-
justice system are limited and that that each case must await its turn‟ [citation],
postdeprivation pretrial delays in SVPA proceedings cannot be routinely excused by
systemic problems, such as understaffed public prosecutor or public defender offices
facing heavy caseloads, underdeveloped expert witness pools, or insufficient judges or
facilities to handle overcrowded trial dockets.” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383,
403, italics added, quoting Barker, supra, 407 U.S. 514, 538 (conc. opn. of White, J.); cf.
People v. Sutton (2010) 48 Cal.4th 533 [concluding similarly with regard to a
determination of good cause under Pen. Code § 1382 for continuing a criminal trial].)
The appellate court in Litmon concluded that “[e]ven if the initial delay in setting
trial for January 2007 comported with principles of procedural due process, the
postponement of the trial until mid-March 2007 cannot be reconciled with those
principles given appellant‟s complete loss of liberty awaiting trial. By January 2007,
appellant had already been confined throughout the entire first „potential‟ two-year term
and well into the second „potential‟ two-year term sought by the consolidated
recommitment petitions. . . . [T]he People knew the difficulties of scheduling the state‟s
29

experts at least since the April 2006 trial-setting hearing and had nine months to secure
their attendance. Putting off trial for another two months would mean a continued loss of
liberty without any determination that appellant was in fact an SVP. Consequently, the
proffered justification is inadequate to excuse a further delay of retrial given the
magnitude of the liberty interest at stake, the serious harm to this interest already
occasioned by the protracted delay, and the possibility that interim decisions (the
probable cause hearings on the second and third recommitment petitions) may have been
mistaken.” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 404-405.)24
The court in Litmon, observing that “ „ “oppressive pretrial incarceration” ‟ ” is
one of the facets of “fundamental unfairness that procedural due process is aimed at
preventing,” concluded: “In our view, lengthy postdeprivation pretrial delay in an SVP
proceeding is oppressive. In this case, we cannot turn a blind eye to the years of pretrial
confinement that have elapsed following expiration of the last ordered term of
commitment.” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 405-406, italics added.)
In closing, the court in Litmon stressed again that “[t]he ultimate responsibility for
bringing a person to trial on an SVP petition at a „meaningful time‟ rests with the
government. Appellant‟s fundamental liberty interest outweighed the state‟s
countervailing interests in postponement of the trial set for January 2007. The
approximate two-month delay of retrial until March 2007, although only incremental,

24
The court added: “We arrive at the same due process conclusion under a Barker-
type analysis. The extensive pretrial delay following the filing of the petitions certainly
creates a presumption of prejudice that triggers a Barker type of balancing test. (See
Doggett [v. United States (1992)] 505 U.S. [647, ] 652, fn. 1 [„lower courts have
generally found postaccusation delay “presumptively prejudicial” at least as it approaches
one year‟].) The second recommitment petition was filed February 23, 2004, and the
third recommitment petition was filed September 29, 2005. For all the reasons stated
above, the government‟s proffered justification for continuance of the January trial date
must be weighed against it.” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 405.)
30

meant the cumulative loss of a whole year in custody after mistrial. . . . If the
constitutional right to procedural due process is not to be an empty concept in the context
of involuntary SVP proceedings, it cannot be dispensed with so easily. The court should
have granted appellant‟s January 2007 motion to dismiss the consolidated petitions.”
(Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, 406, italics added.)25
c.
Although Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383, was decided after the stipulation at
issue was negotiated and signed, the principles articulated in that opinion were derived
from long-established precedent rendered by the United States Supreme Court.
Accordingly, it was reasonably clear that, at the time the stipulation in the present case
was negotiated and signed, there existed a possibility of eventual dismissal based upon
the state‟s failure to allocate sufficient resources to provide a timely trial — perhaps with
respect to Castillo‟s case, or with respect to some of the scores of other pending SPV
petitions covered by the stipulation. At the same time, moreover, as observed ante, part
III.B.1.a., substantial legal uncertainties, not resolved until at least early 2008, existed
with respect to application of the 2006 amendments to petitions that were pending prior
to the effective dates of the amendments. Furthermore, unlike the more typical cases
involving stipulations, in this case the trial court did not merely accept and enforce a
stipulation agreed to by the parties; the court actually signed the stipulation as a
participant in the agreement — and in doing so, conveyed its support and endorsement

25
The court was careful to specify that its conclusion that the trial court should have
dismissed the consolidated SVP petitions “of course[] does not preclude other civil
commitment proceedings against appellant if appropriate. Appellant might still be
involuntarily committed and treated under the [Lanterman-Petris-Short] Act. (§ 5000 et
seq.)” (Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th at p. 406; cf. People v. Allen (2007) 42 Cal.4th
91, 105-108 [although commitment as a mentally disordered offender was precluded, the
defendant might be committed under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act].)
31

concerning the legal propriety of the agreement. In this setting, in which it is apparent
that the stipulation was entered into in good faith by the District Attorney, the Public
Defender, and the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, we
conclude that enforcement of the stipulation indeed would promote the first goal of the
judicial estoppel doctrine, that of maintaining the integrity of the judicial system.
2.
We also conclude that enforcement of the stipulation would promote the second of
the dual goals of the judicial estoppel doctrine — protection of parties such as Castillo,
and others similarly situated, from “opponents‟ unfair strategies.” (Aguilar, supra,
32 Cal.4th at p. 986.) In this respect, even though detrimental reliance need not be shown
in order to establish judicial estoppel, it is clear there was general reliance of this sort in
the present case on the part of Castillo and others. Castillo, whose three prior SVP
recommitment petitions had, by mid-2006, been pending trial for nearly six years, might
have demanded trial or dismissal and thereafter pressed a potentially meritorious due
process claim if not afforded a trial within a meaningful time. (See Litmon, supra, 162
Cal.App.4th 383, 394-406.) Moreover, even if, on the facts of his case, Castillo could not
assert a successful due process challenge, it is quite possible that one or more of the
scores of others similarly situated might eventually have been able to do so.
The Attorney General observes that the record fails to demonstrate that Castillo,
personally or through his counsel, demanded trial during the spring or summer of 2006.
Castillo, in turn, asserts that he had no incentive or reason to press such a demand, in
light of the impending stipulation. As summarized by Castillo in his brief, he “had every
right to insist upon a prompt and immediate trial. He chose not to do so because he was
promised by his attorney, the trial court, and the district attorney, that he would not suffer
any adverse consequences” from further delay even when the law changed to provide for
an indeterminate commitment. The People, at the same time, received the benefit that
32

they apparently sought in the stipulation — neither Castillo‟s case, nor apparently any
other, was dismissed for delay in conducting a SVP trial.26
It is immaterial whether the Attorney General‟s subsequent decision on appeal not
to honor the stipulation and to argue against it, after having received the benefit of it,
properly might be denominated a “strategy” or something else, for the result is the same:
under the circumstances, that course of action, considered from the standpoint of its
impact on Castillo and those similarly situated, simply is “unfair.” As amicus curiae Los
Angeles County District Attorney observes, “Castillo should not be penalized because he
trusted the legal analysis of the District Attorney, Public Defender and Superior Court of
Los Angeles County.” We conclude that enforcement of the stipulation would promote
the second goal of the judicial estoppel doctrine, that of protecting parties such as Castillo
and others similarly situated from “opponents‟ unfair strategies.”
3.
The Court of Appeal below observed that estoppel does not apply when
enforcement of that doctrine “would entail a serious risk to public safety.” On the facts
of this case, however, it seems doubtful that any substantial risk to public safety would be
posed by enforcement of the stipulation under the judicial estoppel doctrine. As noted
above, it appears that all parties, including the court, entered into the stipulation in order
to preserve, and not to endanger, public safety. As amicus curiae Los Angeles County
Public Defender observes, “[p]ursuant to the terms of the Stipulation, no individual who
was pending trial was subject to release during the pendency of commitment proceedings.
Nor does the fact that said individual is subject to recommitment proceedings in two
years endanger public safety because as long as the individual has a mental disorder that

26
Moreover, the People avoided the protracted litigation that would have been
triggered by demands for prompt trials, including proceedings contesting the propriety of
the continuances and the effect of the 2006 amendments.
33

makes it likely he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior, said
individual will be subject to recommitment for an indefinite term.”
4.
Finally, as the Court of Appeal observed, “estoppel does not apply when
enforcement of the stipulation would be contrary to the Legislature‟s plain directive.”
Similarly, the Attorney General stresses that a stipulation is unenforceable if it is based
upon an erroneous rule of law. In support, the Attorney General relies upon cases such as
San Francisco Lumber Co. v. Bibb (1903) 139 Cal. 325, in which this court declined to
give effect to a stipulation, entered into by litigating parties, agreeing in essence to limit
the legal issues that could be considered by the court. (Id., at p. 326.) We stated broadly
that “[c]ounsel . . . may agree as to the facts, but they cannot control this court by
stipulation as to the sole, or any, question of law to be determined under them. [¶] When
a particular legal conclusion follows from a given state of facts, no stipulation of counsel
can prevent the court from so declaring it.” (Ibid.; see also, e.g., California State Auto.
Assn. Inter-Ins. Bureau v. Superior Court (1990) 50 Cal.3d 658, 664 [a court may reject a
stipulation that “incorporates an erroneous rule of law”]; Garabedian v. Los Angeles
Cellular Telephone Co. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 123, 128 [“An agreement of the parties
does not bind the court if it is contrary to law or public policy”]; Western Pioneer Ins.
Co. v. Estate of Taira (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 174, 182 [“interpretation of statutes or law
is normally not a proper subject for stipulation of the parties, but is a matter for the
courts”]; In re Marriage of Fithian (1977) 74 Cal.App.3d 397, 403 [“A stipulation is not
binding if, as a matter of law, it is clearly erroneous”]; Oakland Raiders v. City of
Berkeley (1976) 65 Cal.App.3d 623, 629 [stipulation that a city tax ordinance constituted
a “regulatory measure” was ineffective, because the “interpretation of the Constitution,
statutes, and ordinances is a subject within the authority of the courts, not the parties. . . .
The matters normally subject to stipulation relate to pleadings, issues, evidence, liability,
procedure, and damages, but not to interpretation of the law.”].)
34


The Attorney General concludes that in the present circumstances, “the amended
version of section 6604 applied to [Castillo‟s] case because his trial and [re]commitment
as an SVP occurred in August 2007, . . . more than nine months after the effective date of
Proposition 83. Section 6604 therefore required the trial court to commit [Castillo] „for
an indeterminate term,‟ and the court‟s imposition of a two-year term was an
unauthorized act in excess of its jurisdiction.” (Italics added.) The Attorney General
concludes: “As the Court of Appeal correctly explained, „In light of the jury‟s verdict, an
indeterminate term was the sole remedy available, and the legislative scheme authorizing
commitment afforded the court no discretion in formulating alternative commitment
terms or to delay the effective date of the modifications effected by Proposition 83.‟
[Citation.] Accordingly, in light of the plain terms of section 6604, the Court of Appeal
properly increased the term of commitment from the unauthorized two-year term to the
correct indeterminate term.” (Italics added.)
Unlike the stipulations involved in decisions upon which the Attorney General
relies, the stipulation here at issue was entered into not by the parties acting alone, but by
the parties and the court. More significantly, unlike the decisions upon which the
Attorney General relies, as explained ante (pt. III.B.1.a.), the stipulation reflected the
substantial legal uncertainties that existed at the time it was negotiated and signed. The
stipulation expressly referred to the “uncertainty” concerning application of the 2006
amendments to the SVPA, and provided that despite those uncertainties — including
whether recommitments even were permissible under the amended statutory scheme —
each potential SVP being represented by the Public Defender who faced a pending trial
would indeed be subject to recommitment, for a two-year term. Furthermore, the
stipulation clarified that after any such two-year recommitment, the person would be
subject to subsequent recommitment for an indeterminate term. Accordingly — and in
light of the circumstance that the 2006 amendments to section 6604 made no provision
concerning recommitments (and, indeed, deleted language authorizing
35

recommitments) — we reject the Attorney General‟s premise that the stipulation at issue
was “clearly erroneous as a matter of law,” and “unenforceable,” at the time it was signed
and at the time it was enforced in this case.
Nor do we agree with the Attorney General‟s related premise that an indeterminate
term was “the only legally authorized term” in the present case. For this proposition the
Attorney General relies upon the appellate courts‟ subsequent clarifying holdings
concerning the 2006 amendments (see ante, fn. 17), but we do not view those decisions,
in what would amount to reaching well beyond the facts presented in those matters, as
establishing a broad rule that would preclude the enforceability in the present case of a
stipulation dissimilar to anything considered in any of those prior decisions. None of the
cases cited by the Attorney General (Shields, supra, 155 Cal.App.4th 559, Carroll, supra,
158 Cal.App.4th 503, Bourquez, supra, 156 Cal.App.4th 1275, and Whaley, supra, 160
Cal.App.4th 779) concerned a stipulation comparable to the one at issue in this case, and
none held broadly that indefinite commitments are mandatory in all situations.27
Moreover, as explained ante (pt. III.B.1.b.), it is apparent from the Litmon
decision and the principles derived from United States Supreme Court cases cited by
Litmon that, at the time the stipulation was negotiated and signed, a realistic possibility
existed that due process principles would require the dismissal of Castillo‟s case, or of at
least some of the scores of other pending SVP petitions covered by the stipulation.
Apparently, the stipulation was designed in part to avoid this highly undesirable
prospect — it ensured that each potential SVP being represented by the Public Defender
would not demand an immediate trial, a development that in turn successfully foreclosed

27
We also observe that, in contrast to the present case, in all of the cited cases in
which an indeterminate term was imposed upon a person whose trial was pending prior to
the 2006 amendments, the petition had been amended to seek an indeterminate term.
(See ante, fn. 17.)
36

the possibility of dismissal of those cases based upon a violation of due process, as
occurred in Litmon, supra, 162 Cal.App.4th 383.
The circumstance that subsequent appellate decisions have clarified the law and
removed many of the uncertainties that existed until at least early 2008 — and the
additional circumstance that we know today, with the benefit of such subsequent
clarification, that a stipulation similar to the one we consider in the present case now
could not properly be negotiated, entered into, and enforced — does not diminish the
reality that such uncertainties did indeed exist at the time the stipulation at issue was
implemented upon the conclusion of Castillo‟s trial in mid-August 2007. For these
reasons it would be inappropriate for us, with the benefit of hindsight, to condemn the
stipulation as having been unauthorized or unenforceable at the time of Castillo‟s trial.
The highly distinctive circumstances of the present case militate in favor of enforcing the
stipulation now, in the cases of Castillo and others similarly situated, as urged by amici
curiae Los Angeles County District Attorney and Los Angeles County Public Defender.
IV.
We reverse the judgment rendered by the Court of Appeal, with directions to
reinstate the judgment of the trial court committing Castillo to a two-year term. In any
future SVP proceeding, Castillo — pursuant to the stipulation, and under section 6604, as
amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83 — will be subject to commitment
for an indeterminate term.
GEORGE, C. J.

WE CONCUR:

KENNARD, J.
BAXTER, J.
WERDEGAR, J.
CHIN, J.
MORENO, J.
CORRIGAN, J.
37


See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.
Name of Opinion People v. Castillo __________________________________________________________________________________

Unpublished Opinion
Original Appeal
Original Proceeding
Review Granted XXX 170 Cal.App.4th 1156
Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

Opinion No. S171163
Date Filed: May 24, 2010
__________________________________________________________________________________

Court: Superior
County: Los Angeles
Judge: Stephen A. Marcus

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attorneys for Appellant:
Rudy Kraft, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.
Michael P. Judge, Public Defender (Los Angeles), Albert J. Menaster and Jack T. Weedin, Deputy Public
Defenders, for Public Defender of Los Angeles County as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and
Appellant.
Steve Cooley, District Attorney (Los Angeles), Irene Wakabayashi, Head Deputy District Attorney, and
Jennifer C. McDonald, Deputy District Attorney, for District Attorney of Los Angeles County as Amicus
Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attorneys for Respondent:
Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C.
Hamanaka, Assistant Attorney General, Lawrence M. Daniels, Susan Sullivan Pithey and Chung L. Mar,
Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):
Rudy Kraft
P.O. Box 1677
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-1677
(805) 546-9239
Jennifer C. McDonald
Deputy District Attorney
320 West Temple Street, Room 540
Los Angeles, Ca 90012
(213) 974-5911

Chung L. Mar
Deputy Attorney General
300 South Spring Street, Suite 1702
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 897-2368

Petition for review after the Court of Appeal modified and affirmed an order of commitment as a sexually violent predator. The court limited review to the following issue: Did the Court of Appeal err by increasing the term of defendant's commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act from two years to an indeterminate term pursuant to the 2006 amendments to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6604, when the Los Angeles County District Attorney had stipulated that only the two-year commitment term would be sought?

Opinion Information
Date:Citation:Docket Number:Category:Status:
Mon, 05/24/201049 Cal. 4th 145, 230 P.3d 1132, 109 Cal. Rptr. 3d 346S171163Review - Criminal Appealsubmitted/opinion due

Parties
1The People (Plaintiff and Respondent)
Represented by Chung L. Mar
Office of the Attorney General
300 S. Spring Street, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA

2Castillo, Javier (Defendant and Appellant)
Coalinga State Hospital
P.O. Box 5003
Coalinga, CA 93210

Represented by Rudy G. Kraft
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 1677
San Luis Obispo, CA

3Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Jennifer Cristine McDonald
Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney
320 W. Temple Street, Room 540
Los Angeles, CA

4Office of the Los Angeles County Public Defender (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Jack T. Weedin
Office of the Los Angeles County Public Defender
320 W. Temple Street, Room 590
Los Angeles, CA


Opinion Authors
OpinionChief Justice Ronald M. George

Dockets
Mar 12 2009Petition for review filed
  Appellant, Javier Castillo by counsel, Rudy Kraft.
Mar 12 2009Record requested
 
Mar 12 2009Received Court of Appeal record
 
Apr 23 2009Time extended to grant or deny review
  The time for granting or denying review in the above-entitled matter is hereby extended to and including June 10, 2009 or the date upon which review is either granted or denied.
May 13 2009Petition for review granted; issues limited
  The petition for review is granted. The issue to be briefed and argued is limited to the following: Did the Court of Appeal err by increasing the term of defendant's commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act from two years to an indeterminate term pursuant to the 2006 amendments to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6604, when the Los Angeles County District Attorney had stipulated that only the two-year commitment term would be sought? Votes: George, C.J., Kennard, Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, Moreno, and Corrigan, JJ.
Jun 16 2009Counsel appointment order filed
  Upon request of appellant for appointment of counsel, Rudy Kraft is hereby appointed to represent appellant on the appeal now pending in this court. Appellant's brief on the merits must be served and filed on or before thirty (30) days from the date of this order.
Jul 14 2009Request for extension of time filed
  to and including August 15, 2009, to file appellant's opening brief on the merits Rudy Kraft, Supreme Court-appointed counsel
Jul 20 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of Appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the Opening Brief on the Merits is extended to and including August 15, 2009.
Aug 17 2009Request for extension of time filed
  to and including August 29, 2009, to file appellant's opening brief on the merits. Rudy Kraft, Supreme Court-appointed counsel
Aug 19 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the Appellant's Opening Brief on the Merits is extended to and including August 29, 2009.
Sep 3 2009Note:
  Received Appellant's Opening Brief on the Merits with the wrong cover color. (green not white) Counsel has been notified of error. White covers mailed 9/3/2009. Brief is timely per CRC 8.25(b) 9-10-2009: Received white covers, but not on heavier bond paper. Counsel to re-submit new set of briefs. 9/14/2009: White covers received only.
Sep 14 2009Opening brief on the merits filed
Defendant and Appellant: Castillo, JavierAttorney: Rudy G. Kraft   CRC 8.25(b)
Sep 28 2009Received Court of Appeal record
  two add'l dh's / one 2" & one 6" dh / sent o/n
Oct 9 2009Request for extension of time filed
  The People, Plaintiff and Respondent Chung Mar, AG staff request is made to, November 13, 2009, to file answer brief on the merits
Oct 14 2009Compensation awarded counsel
  Atty Kraft
Oct 20 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of respondent, and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the Answer Brief on the Merits is extended to and including November 13, 2009. No further extension will be granted.
Nov 13 2009Answer brief on the merits filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Chung L. Mar  
Nov 30 2009Request for extension of time filed
  counsel for appellant requests a 30 day extension, until January 2, 2010, to file the reply brief on the merits, by Rudy Fraft, counsel.
Dec 1 2009Extension of time granted
  The request for extension until January 2, 2010, to file the reply brief, is denied. The court grants an extension to Thursday, December 10, 2009. No further extension will be granted.
Dec 14 2009Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Castillo, JavierAttorney: Rudy G. Kraft   Under CRC 8.25 (b)
Dec 17 2009Application to file amicus curiae brief filed
  Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Jack T. Weedin, Deputy Public Defender
Dec 23 2009Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted
  The application of Los Angeles County Public Defender for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of appellant is hereby granted. An answer thereto may be served and filed by any party within 20 days of the filing of the brief.
Dec 23 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: Office of the Los Angeles County Public DefenderAttorney: Jack T. Weedin  
Jan 7 2010Application to file amicus curiae brief filed
  Application to file amicus curiae brief by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in support of appellant (Castillo) Jennifer C. McDonald, Deputy District Attorney -- Los Angeles
Jan 11 2010Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted
  The application of the Los Angeles County District Attorney for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of appellant is hereby granted. An answer thereto may be served and filed by any party within 20 days of the filing of the brief.
Jan 11 2010Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: Office of the Los Angeles County District AttorneyAttorney: Jennifer Cristine McDonald  
Mar 3 2010Case ordered on calendar
  to be argued Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at 9:00 a.m., in Los Angeles
Mar 12 2010Application filed
  Application to divide oral argument time, filed by Rudy Kraft, counsel for appellant Castillo, requesting to share 10 minutes of time with amicus curiae Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Mar 12 2010Filed:
  Letter from Jennifer C. McDonald, counsel for amicus curiae Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, in support of appellant's application to divide oral argument time.
Mar 22 2010Order filed
  The request of appellant to allocate to amicus curiae Los Angeles County District Attorney 10 minutes of appellant's 30-minute allotted time for oral argument is granted.
Mar 24 2010Received:
  Letter dated 3/22/2010 from Chung L. Mar, Deputy Attorney General, citing additional authorities.
Apr 7 2010Cause argued and submitted
 
May 21 2010Notice of forthcoming opinion posted
  To be filed Monday, May 24, 2010 @ 10 a.m.

Briefs
Sep 14 2009Opening brief on the merits filed
Defendant and Appellant: Castillo, JavierAttorney: Rudy G. Kraft  
Nov 13 2009Answer brief on the merits filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Chung L. Mar  
Dec 14 2009Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Castillo, JavierAttorney: Rudy G. Kraft  
Dec 23 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: Office of the Los Angeles County Public DefenderAttorney: Jack T. Weedin  
Jan 11 2010Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: Office of the Los Angeles County District AttorneyAttorney: Jennifer Cristine McDonald  
Brief Downloads
application/pdf icon
appellants_petition_for_review.pdf (581899 bytes) - Appellant's Petition for Review
application/pdf icon
appellants_opening_brief_on_the_merits.pdf (261794 bytes) - Appellant's Opening Brief on the Merits
application/pdf icon
respondents_answer_brief_on_the_merits.pdf (312630 bytes) - Respondent's Answer Brief on the Merits
application/pdf icon
appellants_reply_brief_on_the_merits.pdf (224629 bytes) - Appellant's Reply Brief on the Merits
application/pdf icon
No Right to Hearing on Request to Represent Self on Appeal—C.A.pdf (162945 bytes) - No Right to Hearing on Request to Represent Self on Appeal - Kenneth Ofgang
If you'd like to submit a brief document to be included for this opinion, please submit an e-mail to the SCOCAL website
Jun 6, 2012
Annotated by Neil Devani

Facts:
Defendant Javier Castillo, was convicted twice of committing lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 years (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (b)), once in 1985, and again in 1992. In 1999, Castillo was committed to state hospital as a sexually violent predator (SVP). In 2001, and again in 2003, the District Attorney filed a petition to extend Castillo’s commitment for a two year period. Each time, the trial was continued and never held. In 2005, the District Attorney made a third filing for a two year extension of Castillo’s commitment. In January of 2006, the three extensions and the challenges against them were finally scheduled for trial.

In 2006, Proposition 83, The Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act: Jessica’s Law, qualified for the ballot and much attention focused on SVP commitment laws. The state legislature passed a bill similar to Proposition 83, Senate Bill No. 1128, before the electorate had an opportunity to vote on it; however, the proposition also passed. After all the changes were made, the remaining law did not expressly authorize the re-commitment of someone like Castillo, someone who had been previously committed for treatment as an SVP.

Due to the uncertainty created by the law, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Public Defender, and the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court agreed to certain standards in these cases under a signed stipulation. Specifically as related to Castillo, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to only pursue indeterminate commitments to re-commitment petitions if “a pending 2 year re-commitment petition filed prior to the effective date of the bill and/or initiative has not been tried prior to the expiration of the two-year commitment period and a new petition is timely filed after the effective date.” As such, Castillo’s previous three commitments could only be approved for two-years each. In return, the People received a guarantee that cases like Castillo’s would not be dismissed for delay.

Procedural History:
In 2007, a jury found that Castillo was a danger to society and the trial court retroactively approved his three two-year commitments and approved a new trial for a new commitment, which had the potential to result in a commitment of indeterminate length based on the recent amendments to laws for SVPs. The District Attorney did not seek an indeterminate commitment on any of Castillo's previous three commitments as per their stipulation with the Public Defender and the Superior Court.

Castillo appealed the decision on various claims, with the Attorney General contravening on behalf of the People to contend that the trial court should have retroactively found an indeterminate term rather than three two-year terms and a trial for a new indeterminate term.

The Court of Appeal held that although the Attorney General was supporting retroactive indeterminate sentencing where the District Attorney had stipulated during trial that it would not, the Attorney General was not estopped from doing so as estoppel “would be contrary to the Legislature’s plain directive, would entail a serious risk to public safety” and because “the party seeking estoppel did not detrimentally rely on the position advanced by the public entity below.”

Castillo subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for review with the support of the District Attorney and the Public Defender. Upon a grant of review, both filed amicus briefs supporting Castillo’s position.

Issue:
Whether the appellate court’s modification of an appellant’s commitment to a mental hospital from two years to an indeterminate term was done in error.

Holding:
Yes. The appellate court’s approval of the Attorney General’s request for indeterminate commitment failed to properly consider Castillo’s claims of estoppel as per the stipulation signed by the District Attorney. The stipulation adequately mitigated due process risks posed by the government’s delay in hearing long-pending SVP petitions. As such, the trial court commitment of Castillo to a two-year term is reinstated and any future proceedings will be subject to an indeterminate term as per the stipulation, and Section 6604, as amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 and Proposition 83.

Analysis:
Estoppel comes in a variety of flavors, including equitable, promissory, and judicial. While the former two may require some showing of detrimental reliance in order to be considered, “judicial estoppel is designed to protect the integrity of the legal system as a whole, and does not require a showing of detrimental reliance by a party.” (citing MW Erectors, Inc. v. Niederhauser Ornamental & Metal Works Co., Inc., (2005) 36 Cal.4th 412). Even so, the delay of Castillo’s trial may have enabled him to demand a trial or dismissal on due process grounds. The stipulation, barring a retroactive application of indeterminate commitment, gave Castillo reason and incentive to wait for trial on his commitment while ensuring the People that “neither Castillo’s case, nor apparently any other, was dismissed for delay in conducting a SVP trial.” (citing People v. Litmon (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 383).

Judicial estoppel “precludes a party from gaining an advantage by taking one position, and then seeking a second advantage by taking an incompatible position.” The twin aims of the doctrine are to “maintain the integrity of the judicial system and to protect parties from opponents’ unfair strategies.” (quoting Aguilar v. Lerner 32 Cal.4th 974 (2004) 32 Cal.4th 974). Maintaining the judicial system’s integrity requires that any stipulation that both parties and the presiding judge of the superior court enter into jointly and in good faith be honored. Unfair strategies include the People, through the District Attorney, receiving the benefit of Castillo not pursuing a due process claim, while also receiving the benefit of violating to seek indeterminate commitment through the Attorney General. Here, the application of judicial estoppel disallowed the Attorney General to push for an indeterminate sentence.

Key Citations:
Cases
MW Erectors, Inc. v. Niederhauser Ornamental & Metal Works Co., Inc., (2005)
36 Cal.4th 412, 30 Cal.Rptr.3d 755, 115 P.3d 41
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-supreme-court/1051752.html

People v. Litmon (2008)
162 Cal.App.4th 383, 76 Cal.Rptr.3d 122
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1118614.html

Aguilar v. Lerner (2004)
32 Cal.4th 974, 12 Cal.Rptr.3d 287, 88 P.3d 24
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/summary/opinion/ca-supreme-court/2004/04/22/1...

Statutes
California Penal Code § 288. Lewd or lascivious acts; penalties; psychological harm to victim
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01...

California Welfare & Institutions Code § 6600-6609.3: Sexually Violent Predator Act
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=wic&group=06001-07...

Related Legislative History
Proposition 83: SEX OFFENDERS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS. PUNISHMENT, RESIDENCE RESTRICTIONS AND MONITORING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2006/general/props/prop83/prop83.htm

Senate Bill 1128
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=2005...

Tags
California Penal Code
sexually violent predator
SVP
Proposition 83
Jessica's Law
commitment
indeterminate commitment
estoppel
judicial estoppel
mental health

Annotation by: Neil Devani