Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mixed Week for CCBA Program

The past week was filled with both highs and lows for the Conference of California Bar Association's (CCBA) legislative program. On the high side, four CCBA-sponsored or co-sponsored bills passed their final legislative test and are being prepared to be sent to Governor Brown for signature or veto.

On the low side, one key component of the CCBA program (AB 308 - Ammiano) and another highly visible bill supported by the Conference (SB 490 - Hancock) were held in committee and now must wait for next year.

The bills that are being sent to Governor Brown included:
  • AB 433 by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal would conform state law to the medical standard applied by the U.S. state department and current medical understanding of gender transition to simplify the existing process by which a transgender person obtains appropriate identification document. The bill, which is consistent with CCBA Resolution 04-12-2010 sponsored by the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, passed the Senate on a vote of 23-13, and received concurrence in Senate amendments from the Assembly, 51-26. 
  • AB 1147 by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada would maximize the efficient use of resources by requiring social workers to include information about what age- and developmental-appropriate services teen mothers in foster care minor received, pursuant to existing law, in reports the social workers are already required to prepare. The bill is based on CCBA Resolution 03-04-2010, sponsored by the Women Lawyers of Sacramento. 
  • AB 1384 by Assemblymember Steven Bradford would authorize a court, after one year, to expunge non-vehicular infractions and misdemeanors (with specified exceptions) from a person’s record in its discretion and in the interests of justice. The bill would complete the enactment of Resolution 06-06-2009 by the Santa Clara County Bar Association, the major provisions of which were enacted last year in AB 2582 (Adams). 
  • AB 1023, the annual Maintenance of the Codes bill carried this year by Assembly Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair Don Wagner, includes CCBA Resolution 10-01-2010 by the Bar Association of Northern San Diego County, which makes an important technical correction in the law relating to SLAPP suits.

Of the two bills that were held in committee, AB 308, was the biggest disappointment, given the time and effort expended in seeking its passage.  The bill (CCBA Resolution 01-13-2010 by the LACBA) would mandate the creation of new protocols and procedures to better ensure the accuracy of eyewitness identifications in criminal matters.  It was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee due to cost concerns, after the Department of Justice increased its projected cost of the bill to $1.2 million - nearly five times the estimated cost of virtually duplicate measures considered by the Legislature in earlier years. (See earlier post).

SB 490, Senator Loni Hancock's bill to require a public vote on whether California's death penalty should be abolished, stayed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee at the request of the author, who determined that she didn't have the votes to enact the bill (see story in San Jose Mercury News). The decision came only a day after Governor Brown suggested in news stories that he would be supportive of letting the people vote on the question, though without commenting directly on SB 490.  However, it was clear to Sen. Hancock in the all-important process of counting the votes that there simply weren't enough members of the Legislature willing to commit to expending the money to put the issue on the ballot, given polls showing that as many as seven in 10 Californians still support capital punishment for the most heinous of crimes.  The CCBA supported the measure based on its consistent support of resolutions calling for the abolition of the death penalty, most recently 01-01-2010 by the Bar Association of San Francisco. (See earlier post).

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