Attorney Malpractice Spva Proceeding Does Not Trigger Actual Innocence Requirement
Former Client sued public defender for legal malpractice due to alleged negligence in defending Client in an SVPA proceeding. SPVA is a civil commitment proceeding that occurs when a person who has been convicted a “sexually violent offense” and who is subject to a mental illness which caused the offense (a “Sexually Violent Predator”), completes her prison sentence.
Attorney demurred on the grounds that Client did not demonstrate “actual innocence”. When a client in a criminal matter sues her attorney for malpractice, there is a public policy that states the client must prove she was later exonerated of the underlying criminal charges.
Held: An SVPA proceeding occurs after the conviction, and after the client has served her sentence. Thus, the policy underlying the “actual innocence” rule does not pertain here.