Senator partners with San Diego DA on legislation to keep SVP hearings public
Last updated 1/26/2021 at 2:44pm
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A state senator, with the backing of San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, announced today the re-introduction of
legislation aimed at keeping court hearings for Sexually Violent Predators open to the public.
Senate Bill 248 would require that court proceedings remain public for the civil commitments of Sexually Violent Predators -- or SVPs -- offenders
convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes them likely to re-offend, according to Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel.
SVPs who have been civilly committed to state hospitals to undergo treatment may petition for placement into the Conditional Release Program for
outpatient treatment. If approved by a judge, they may be released to a residence under the supervision of Liberty Healthcare, which contracts with the
state to administer supervision and treatment.
Hearings on the merits of those petitions and proposed placement locations have been held behind closed doors with increasing frequency,
SB 248 would prohibit those proceedings from being closed to the public "unless compelling and extraordinary circumstances justify'' closing
the courtroom. It would also require a notice to all parties regarding the proposed closure, which would occur at least 10 calendar days prior to the
"This important legislation supports the principles of democracy and transparency in our justice system by making sure court hearings for sexually
violent predators are open to the public,'' Stephan said. "As District Attorney, I hear the pain from victims who've been terrorized by a sexual
predator but are left in the dark and not able to learn pertinent information guaranteed to them by our open courts system.''
The bill is currently awaiting referral to a Senate policy committee, according to Bates' office. A similar bill, SB 1023, was introduced last year,
but had to be put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"District Attorney Stephan and I believe that court hearings for sexually violent predators should be open to the public whenever possible,''
Bates said. "Victims, their families, and the public have the right to witness hearings regarding the potential release of a predator. I look forward to
working with the district attorney and my legislative colleagues to update the law to improve transparency in our courts.''