I'm assuming that the upcoming hearing is a W&I 5276, probable cause
hearing. Under W&I 5256.3-5256.4, the person to be certified has the right to be present at the hearing, and the following:
(1) Assistance by an attorney or advocate.
(2) To present evidence on his or her own behalf.
(3) To question persons presenting evidence in support of the certification decision.
(4) To make reasonable requests for the attendance of facility employees who have knowledge of, or participated in, the certification decision.
(5) If the person has received medication within 24 hours or such longer period of time as the person conducting the hearing may designate prior to the beginning of the hearing, the person conducting the hearing shall be informed of that fact and of the probable effects of the medication.
If your daughter cannot afford an attorney, then the public defender must represent her at the hearing. If the public defender has not interviewed your daughter, and/or attempted to obtain an independent psychiatric assessment, then you need to hire a lawyer with LPS experience and get an evaluation, if possible. I realize you have already stated that this is not going to happen. If not, then the judge will be observing your daughter at the hearing, and the decision will largely be made based upon a combination of the testimony of the psychiatrist for the facility and the testimony of your daughter. A competent lawyer can ask questions that would cause the court to order your daughter's release -- i.e., questions intended to demonstrate that your daughter is not a (1) danger to herself or others, or that she is (2) gravely disabled.
Absent proof of #1 or #2, your daughter must be released. However, the burden of proof is by a preponderance of evidence, which means that whichever side presents the better case, no matter how minimally, will prevail.
Personally, I wouldn't trust the public defender, unless I had interviewed him/her and determined that he/she has substantial experience with LPS hearings. Most PDs are buried with criminal
law cases, and they rarely have any exposure to mental health matters -- so, they don't know how to approach the hearing.
A private attorney could try to discredit the psychiatrist on grounds that, as you've already mentioned, the facility is simply trying to make money from your daughter's health care insurance. I agree, and I have observed that a facility will keep a patient just as long as the insurance benefits are available. So, I won't try to dissuade you that this is not part of the facility's calculus. However, I have also seen plenty of patients who actually need involuntary conservatorship -- and, since I do not know your daughter, I can't comment specifically on her circumstances.
Your allegations suggest that your daughter is not at all mentally disordered. If true, then this should be apparent at the hearing -- because she will be able to answer any questions that the court may have (unless she's drugged before appearing). If I were representing her at the hearing, I would have had an independent psychiatrist meet with her already.
I further realize that the cost of all this can be prohibitive -- however, there is nothing that I can do about the fact that "due process" in America costs money -- and sometimes, it's a lot
In sum, talk to the PD, if he/she will talk to you in advance of the hearing. If the PD has no experience, then hire a private lawyer who does.
One more thing: Unless you are a lawyer, then you cannot represent your daughter. You can't file a motion or a petition for anything, and you won't be able to ask questions or argue at the hearing. So, while I understand your desire to be involved and help, the best help that you can provide is economic. If you can afford to hire a private lawyer or an independent psychiatrist to evaluate your daughter, then that's what you need to do, because otherwise, you may be "outgunned" at the hearing -- especially if your daughter is heavily medicated so that she cannot answer questions intelligently.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.