Monday, September 14, 2020

People v. Superior Court (Frezier) (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 11, 2020)

Are we seriously doing this?

Christopher Frezier has serious mental health issues.  The Escondido police department arrested him after his mother complained that he was behaving erratically and claimed that the family cat was "evil."  When the police came, they found Mr. Frezier locked in a bathroom, and when the police got inside, they found Mr. Frezier as well as a decapitated cat.

Take that, evil.

The police arrested him, and the criminal proceedings against him were suspended because the trial court found Mr. Frezier not competent to stand trial.  Around a year later, Mr. Frezier became competent, and criminal proceedings were reinstated.  Mr. Frezier entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, and everyone stipulated that, yep, Mr. Frezier was insane at the time of the offense.  So the trial court enters an order committing him to Patton State Hospital.

So far, everything's normal.  It's playing out like usual.

The wrinkle is that Mr. Frezier never, in fact, gets transferred to the Hospital.  Inexplicably, he just stays locked up in jail in San Diego.  Essentially for a year; just sitting there, not getting treated.  He's there so long that (when combined with his pretrial custody credits) his "sentence" to the Hospital is now over.  So he's entitled to be immediately released.

Back into the community.  With zero treatment.  (Maybe we can civilly commit him -- or maybe not -- but the present opinion doesn't involve that issue.)

You might reasonably ask:  "Why did we just leave him in the local jail?  Why wasn't he taken to the Hospital and treated?  Like the judge ordered and the sentence requires?"

Good question.  The District Attorney's Office doesn't appear to have answered that question.

Below, "the trial court suggested that defendants committed to state hospitals were not being transferred to those hospitals because of the COVID-19 pandemic."  But two things.  First, Mr. Frezier was ordered to the Hospital in September 2019, way before the pandemic hit.  Why wasn't he transferred then?  And second, what?!  Our solution to the COVID-19 crisis is to simply leave insane people in local jails?!  A "solution" that works, I guess, if you think (1) there's very little COVID transmission in jails, and (2) the people to be institutionalized will simply get better on their own.  No problem then.

So while I initially thought this was a one-off opinion, perhaps we've in fact got a lot of people found to be criminally insane lingering in the San Diego jail population.  Which is suboptimal.  To put it lightly.