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Part III - Heightened Standard of Proof is Required for Authorization of Medical Procedures that Impacts Fundamental Rights

Continuing from our previous blog on the Conservatorship of the Person and Estate of Maria B., the trial court clerk forwarded the trial court's ruling to the Court of Appeal as an automatic appeal under section 1962.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order.

Primarily, the Court of Appeal decided that the petition falls under the provisions of Probate Code section 2357, and not Probate Code section 1950 as the purpose of the procedure is to treat Maria's condition, with sterilization as an incidental effect of the procedure. The court further stated that Section 1961 of the Probate Code explicitly states that a petition must proceed under section 2357 if the procedure's objective is to treat a medical condition and sterilization is merely a secondary effect. The Court of Appeal, however, opined that the trial court erred in applying the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. The Court believes that the impact the proposed hysterectomy and oophorectomy would have on Maria's fundamental procreative rights requires the heightened standard of proof to ensure the surgery is medically necessary under section 2357. The court therefore concluded that the clear and convincing evidence standard is required to protect Maria's fundamental right to procreative choice. However, the Court of Appeal emphasized that the clear and convincing evidence will be the exception rather than the norm, and will ultimately depend on whether it impacts a fundamental right.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.