Governor Brown has signed into law four measures sponsored or supported by the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) increasing fairness and protection of the innocent in the criminal justice system over the past three days. However, the Governor vetoed a measure supported by the CCBA to further increase transparency in the initiative process. The signings bring to 12 the number of CCBA sponsored and supported bills signed into law in 2014.
The first of the public safety measures signed was AB 1850 by Assemblymember Marie Waldron, which makes it possible to include children in domestic violence protective orders issued to protect DV victims before and during trial, if the child in question was present during the commission of the act of domestic violence. The bill will allow criminal court judges to protect the entire family during the criminal proceedings instead of just one or a few members, thereby eliminating the problems that occur when an existing family court order requires the domestic violence victim to make her children, unprotected by the criminal order, available to the defendant for child visitation. AB 1850 was based on CCBA Resolution 07-01-2013, which was developed by former Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) delegate (now judge) Teresa Sullivan and current delegates Joseph Goldstein and Bea Dieringer.
The Governor also signed into law two bills to increase the penalty for human trafficking in minors – AB 1791 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, a bill sponsored by the CCBA, and SB 1388 by Senator Ted Lieu a related bill supported by the organization based on Resolution 09-11-2013 by Sonia Fernandes of the Women Lawyers of Sacramento. Together, the two bills will increase the penalty for knowingly soliciting a minor for prostitution, and will increase the maximum fine for placing a minor into prostitution or furnishing a minor to another person for sexual conduct from $20,000 to $25,000. This takes an important step towards stopping the victimization of children by addressing the supply side of the prostitution and human trafficking equation.
Finally, the Governor signed into law AB 2492 by Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, which eliminates the 90-day mandatory minimum sentence for a first or subsequent conviction for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The measure, based on two CCBA resolutions (Resolution 06-03-2012 developed by Monterey County Bar Association delegate Don Landis and Resolution 06-04-2012 developed by LACBA delegate Mark Harvis) will give courts more discretion to structure sentences to encourage drug treatment and reduce jail crowding.
The Governor vetoed AB 400 by Assemblymember Paul Fong, a bill supported by the CCBA based on its approval of Resolution 10-04-2013 sponsored by 10 CCBA delegates led by LACBA delegate Scott Luskin. AB 400 would have required initiative proponents to include the identity of the top 10 donors to the campaign on the initiative petitions, so that voters would have this information when deciding whether or not to sign. Governor Brown – who earlier signed legislation (SB 1253) which, among other things, would require this information to be placed on a web site maintained by the Secretary of State – objected to the potential cost of having to reprint petitions if the list of top 10 backers changed, but didn’t address the need for voters to have this information available when deciding whether or not to sign a petition, not simply when deciding how to vote. Revised legislation is likely in the offing in the coming year.