Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MOTION BY SERIAL CHILD MOLESTER FOR RELEASE FROM SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR STATE HOSPITAL COMMITMENT DENIED AS “FRIVOLOUS”
SANTA ANA – A petition by serial child molester Sid Landau, 70, to be released from his Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) civil commitment at Coalinga State Hospital was denied today after the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA or People) opposed the motion at a hearing last month. The People’s Opposition, was submitted on Sept. 3, 2010, argued that Landau is a continued threat to children and the community. The Court denied Landau’s petition today, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, upon determining it to be “frivolous” (see below).
Under the law, potential SVPs are subject to mental health reviews prior to completion of their criminal sentence. If the People are able to prove that the defendant meets SVP criteria, a petition is filed to have the defendant civilly committed. There are three criteria that must be met; first, the defendant must have committed a sexually violent offense. Second, he must be diagnosed with a mental disorder. Finally, it must be found that he is likely to re-offend unless he is held in custody and treated.
If a unanimous jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant meets the SVP criteria, the defendant is committed to a secure mental care facility for treatment until he is safe for release. Landau has been in a mental care facility since 2000. He was formally committed as an SVP after a jury found he met SVP criteria on July 31, 2008.
When an SVP has been civilly committed following a jury trial, he is granted an annual evaluation by a psychologist, who will opine whether the patient still meets SVP criteria. The hospital director will also make a recommendation as to the patient.
If the hospital director believes that the defendant’s condition has so changed that he no longer meets SVP criteria, the patient is granted a jury trial, where the burden is on the People to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the patient does meet the SVP criteria. Even if the hospital director does not recommend the SVP for release, however, the SVP may still file a petition to be released from the state hospital. In such a case, the SVP does not have a right to a jury trial and instead may have a court trial. The burden is on the patient to prove he does not meet the SVP criteria. Prior to granting a court trial, however, a court may review the petition and deny it if it is determined to be “frivolous.”
Code of Civil Procedure section 128.5(b)(2) defines frivolous as “totally and completely without merit.”
Recent Evaluations of Landau
Since Landau’s last jury trial in July 2008, he has refused to participate in any treatment programs and has had no change in his condition. Despite this, psychologist Dr. Samantha S