DSH Legal Division

About Us

The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) Legal Division is in-house counsel to the nation's largest forensic hospital system. The Legal Division represents DSH in various court and administrative proceedings and provides legal advice to DSH involving the administration of all DSH facilities.

Legal Division Practice Areas

Forensic/Commitment Issues

Patients are legally committed to DSH by a civil court proceeding pursuant to the Welfare and Institutions Code, or by a criminal court proceeding according to the Penal Code. The Legal Division assists with resolving issues surrounding patients deemed Incompetent to Stand Trial (Penal Code section 1370), Sexually Violent Predators (Welf. & Inst. Code section 6600 et seq.), Offenders with Mental Disorders (Penal Code sections 2962/2972), and patients declared Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (Penal Code section 1026).

Legal Division Attorneys attend court hearings related to the commitment of patients, participate in stakeholder outreach and resolve questions concerning treatment and patient's rights. Staff also support the Department's community programs: Jail Based Competency Treatment (JBCT), Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT), Independent Placement Panel (IPP), Community Based Restoration (CBR), Division, Conditional Release Program (CONREP), Community Inpatient Facilities (CIF), Incompetent to Stand Trial Re-Evaluation, and Early Access Stabilization Services (EASS).

Hospital & Operation Governance

The Hospital & Operation Governance practice oversees budget issues, drafts legislation and works with the Office of Administrative Law in developing regulations, and supports the Department with drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts in accordance with the State Administrative Manual.

Labor & Employment

DSH employs approximately 11,500 individuals across its five hospitals and Sacramento headquarters. The Legal Division supports DSH's Human Resources Offices with personnel actions and litigates employee discipline cases before the State Personnel Board and the California Department of Human Resources Statutory Appeals Unit, and other administrative bodies as needed. Attorneys also oversee workplace investigations and work closely with the Attorney General's Office and the Office of Law Enforcement Support.

The Labor & Employment practice also supports DSH's Office of Human Rights with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints before the California Civil Rights Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Litigation & Document Production

The Legal Division works closely with the California Attorney General's Office in defending civil lawsuits and petitions for Writ of Mandate filed against DSH and its employees in both State and Federal court and responding to Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Litigation & Document Production practice also responds to subpoenas in civil and criminal cases.

Clinical Coordination

The Clinical Coordination team consults on BioEthics issues and conservatorship cases. The Legal Division also files petitions and is a party in evidentiary hearings in support of involuntary medication and/or treatment orders for patients committed to DSH pursuant to Penal Code section 1370, California Code of Regulations, title 9, section 4210, and Probate Code section 3200.

Public Records Act Requests

The Legal Division responds to Public Records Act (PRA) requests. Patient information and medical records are not public records and are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) disclosure protections and requirements as well as California Welfare and Institutions Code section 5328. PRA requests can be made here.


The Legal Division leads the DSH Privacy Protection Program (PPP). The PPP develops and implements policies in compliance with State and federal law, to ensure the protection of confidential information obtained or produced by DSH while providing services or through employment or contractual relationships. The PPP investigates and provides guidance to the DSH regarding privacy incidents, including corrective action and mitigation. For any Privacy questions or concerns, please contact the Chief Privacy Officer at Privacy.Officer@dsh.ca.gov

Contact Information

Department of State Hospitals - Legal Division
1215 O Street, MS5
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 654-2319