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Do I need to hire an attorney or can I represent myself in Family Court?


In People vs. Roa, a Second District Court reversed the trial court’s order committing D indefinitely to the custody of the Department of State Hospitals after a jury found him to be a sexually violent predator under the SVPA. It held that under People v. Sanchez, “the trial court erred by allowing the experts to recite case-specific facts that were not independently proven by admissible evidence.” It said that

“That the experts could rely on the investigator reports in forming their opinions does not mean they could relate case-specific facts contained in those reports to the jury, unless those facts were independently proven by competent evidence or covered by a hearsay exception. (Sanchez, supra, 63 Cal.4th at p. 686.) The experts in this case testified extensively about case-specific facts they obtained from the investigator’s reports and treated those facts as true and accurate to support their opinions. The investigator’s reports themselves were not admitted into evidence, and there is no other evidence of the case-specific facts concerning the 1967 assault against Cecilia, Roa’s alleged abuse of his ex-wife, or his 1974 arrest for the alleged sexual assault against two teenage girls. Admission of expert testimony relating case-specific facts about these incidents was error. (Sanchez, supra, 63 Cal.4th at pp. 684-686.)”

The importance of the ruling in People vs. Roa is that, unless admissible evidence is presented to the Court, the Court cannot utilize the information in making it’s ruling. It is imperative that experienced counsel is used to present the requisite evidence to the Court so that appropriate orders are made.

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