Conservatorship legislation authored by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), and based on recommendations of the California State Auditor, was signed into law by Governor Newsom.
Specifically, Jones’s Senate Bill 578 requires “LPS conservatorship” proceedings to be held in closed court, except in rare cases where the court finds public disclosure outweighs the benefit of keeping the matter private. LPS conservatorships are generally those involving involuntary commitment of mentally ill persons who are dangerous or unable meet their basic needs as defined under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967. In a July 2020 report, the State Auditor General found that California’s 58 county courts have varying standards about whether LPS conservatorship hearings are public or closed. The State Auditor recommended that the standard become uniform throughout the state.
“Senate Bill 578 makes privacy the standard rule while still allowing a court to make an occasional exception,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. “The vast majority of these types of conservatorship cases involve private family matters that really shouldn’t be subject to public hearings. This measure will protect the dignity of vulnerable Californians and ensures they retain their right to privacy, no matter which courthouse they visit. ”