Southern California Public Radio: California Supreme Court to weigh in
on juvenile sentences
The California Supreme Court is set to announce a verdict on an appeal
today involving a 16-year old who was tried as an adult and sentenced
to 50 years to life; his attorney says that it constitutes “cruel
and unusual punishment.” Since juveniles can be “impetuous,
fail to appreciate risks and be vulnerable to peer pressure and home environment,”
the U.S. Supreme Court said judges should consider all factors that could
lead to lesser sentences.
“Obie’s Law” Featured on Socal Connected
Obie Anthony was wrongfully convicted and spent 17 years in state prison
until he was exonerated, largely due to the work of the Northern California
Innocence Project and the California Innocence Project at Loyola Marymount.
For the past two years Obie has collaborated with CACJ on successful legislation;
first on our bill to report
Brady violations to the State Bar of California, and secondly on our measure,
"Obie's Law", to require reentry services for exonerated
individuals. Obie received a CACJ President's Award at our most recent
Obie founded, and is the director of, Exonerated Nation, a non-profit dedicated
to help others wrongfully convicted. Both Obie and the new reentry law
are featured in a story by Socal Connected, KCET television. Watch it
SF Chronicle: California must reform jail sentencing: SB966 is place to start
With the goal of tougher penalties on crime, a three-year sentencing enhancement
was added for those prior convictions. However these sentencing enhancements
didn’t stop the flow of drugs into any of our communities and instead
cost taxpayers and impacted communities. With the goal of correcting this
problem, SB966 was introduced to repeal the sentencing enhancements. SB966
is supported by CACJ, and is authored by Senator Holly Mitchell, who was
recognized with CACJ’s Co-Legislator of the Year Award in 2014
Mother Jones: The Supreme Court Just Sent a Strong Message About Racism
in the Justice System
In a 7-1 opinion issued this week, the Supreme Court granted a new trial
for an African-American death row inmate convicted by an all-white jury
because the prosecution had “unconstitutionally rejected jurors
from Foster's trial based on their race.” Stephen Bright, Foster’s
attorney, said "this discrimination became apparent only because
we obtained the prosecution's notes which revealed their intent to
discriminate. Usually that does not happen. The practice of discriminating
in striking juries continues in courtrooms across the country. Usually
courts ignore patterns of race discrimination and accept false reasons
for the strikes. Even after the undeniable evidence of discrimination
was presented in this case, the Georgia courts ignored it and upheld Foster's
conviction and death sentence."
Study shows reducing prison population does not increase crime in California
The journal of the American Society of Criminology recently released a
study focusing on the patterns of crime nationally and in California between
2010 and 2014. The study showed that there was little or no deviation
in the crime rate after the mass prisoner release; “an astounding
17 percent reduction in the size of the California prison population had
no effect on aggregate rates of violent or property crime.”
Sac Bee: Jerry Brown discussed criminal justice reform initiative Wednesday
with Sacramento business leaders
Gov. Jerry Brown presented his prison and criminal justice initiative Wednesday
morning to over 1,200 business professionals at the 91st annual Sacramento Host Committee Breakfast. Brown told the group that, "when it comes to giving someone parole or an educational rehabilitative
credit, that's based on a human judgment of another human being. It’s
that flexibility and that discretion that adds wisdom to a system instead
of automatic-pilot mechanistic rigidity.”
A Candid Window into the American Criminal Justice System
M. Gerald (Gerry) Schwartzbach, CACJ member since 1977 and nationally renowned
criminal defense attorney, has written
Leaning on the Arc. In his book he argues that true justice can only happen when we refuse
to objectify a criminal defendant.
Audio link to forum discussion held on May 5th by the Commonwealth Club
Assembly & Senate Public Safety Committees held a joint informational
hearings on CA death penalty initiatives
Pictured right is Nancy Haydt, CACJ's Death Penalty Committee Co-Chair,
speaking out in support of the repeal measure.
Death Penalty Repeal Measure
repeals the death penalty as maximum punishment for people found guilty
of murder, replacing it with life without possibility of parole. It also
applies retroactively to those already sentenced to death. People found
guilty of murder must work while in prison and up to 60% of their wages
may be applied to victim restitution. This initiative is
expected to reduce net state and local costs by around $150 million annually
within a few years.
Death Penalty Streamlining Measure
changes procedures regarding appeals and petitions challenging convictions,
including designating superior court for initial petitions, limiting successive
petitions, and imposing time limits on reviews. It requires additional
appointed attorneys to accept death penalty appeals, making prison officials
exempt from existing regulations in the process of developing execution
methods, authorizes inmate transfers, and inmates must work and pay victim
FORUM Current Issue is Out Now
Issue 43.1 of the FORUM is now on-line as well as being delivered to members this week.
Dateline Orange County
by Jacqueline Goodman, Esq.
Justice Stevens and The Future of the Death Penalty
by Robert M. Sanger, Esq.
Proposition 47 Summary Update Where Are They Now?
by Gary McCurdy, Esq.
On The Vagaries of the Law: Vagueness Challenges After Johnson V. U.S.
by Charles M. Sevilla, Esq.
Richard Branson honored with Abolitionist Award at Death Penalty Focus Dinner
At Death Penalty Focus’s 25th Awards Dinner last week, Richard Branson, of Virgin Airlines, was honored
with the Abolitionist Award for his efforts to end the death penalty here
in CA and across the world. “It is a violation of human rights that
has no place in a civilized society,” he said. “And I feel
we all have a duty to work for its abolition across the world.”
He also encouraged everyone to support the
Justice That Works Act and end the death penalty in the November election.
Read more here.
Funding for “Answering Gideon’s Call” initiative in 2017
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act
CACJ, along with numerous other defense associations, signed a Letter requesting
the Justice Department grant funding for public defense. In 1963, Gideon
v. Wainwright was brought to the Supreme Court of the United States and
in a unanimous ruling, held that the assistance of counsel was a fundamental
right under the United States Constitution. However, in the 50 years since
Gideon, due to insufficient funding “the right to counsel in all
criminal prosecutions announced in
Gideon is far too often short-changed or ignored.” The letter requests
that the Justice Department ensure Federal funding to assist state and
county public defenders to keep up with increased case load as well as
technological advancements and training.
New York Times: Pfizer Ends the Use of Its Drugs in Executions
Pfizer joins 20 other pharmaceutical companies in adding restrictions to
the use of their drugs for executions. This has caused states that allow
lethal injections to search for the narcotics needed from an increasingly
narrow market. Due to the lack of suppliers willing to sell pentobarbital
to CA to be used for executions, the cost could exceed $700,000 for the
execution of 18 prisoners for whom their appeals have been exhausted.
“Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients
we serve,” the company said in Friday’s statement, and “strongly
objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment.”
Read more from the
New York Times.
Justice That Works submits signatures to qualify for California’s
The Justice That Works campaign submitted nearly double the required signatures
to qualify their initiative to the end the death penalty in California
for the November ballot. Justice That Works 2016 is gearing up for a statewide
vote in November. CACJ calls on our members to end the death penalty in
California by supporting the
Justice that Works Act of 2016. Please support the measure by
DONATING to the campaign. This is our moment to make history.
- Eliminates the possibility of executing an innocent person
- Saves $1 billion dollars over the next 7 years
- Serious offenders must work and pay restitution to victim’s families
NPR: Is America Engaged in a 'Vicious Circle' of Jailing the Poor?
In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Nancy Fishman, a project director
at the Vera Institute which published a 2015 report
Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America, explains how the bail system is economically biased. In the country there
are more than 3000 jails, and within those jails, there are more than
12 million admissions- most being for low level infractions such as traffic
offenses and non-violent property crimes.
“You're talking about people who often [enter jail] in fragile
economic situations and end up that much worse by the time they get out, "Nancy Fishman noted. She explained that people who are in jail have
been accused but not convicted, so "they are legally innocent. One of the great travesties, frankly, of jail
admissions right now is that we have people sitting in jail for long periods
simply because they can't afford to pay [bail].”
Read more from
CACJ asks the United States Supreme Court to protect right to jury trial
in Caroni case
CACJ joined with other criminal defense associations in submitting to the
United States Supreme Court a brief supporting a grant of certiorari in
Caroni V US. The case is asking if it is a violation of Due Process for
a court to direct a verdict in favor of the government on an essential
element, thereby denying the accused the right to trial by jury on all elements.
Amicus Brief here.
Learn more about CACJ's
Amicus Committee and Briefs
CACJ’s Bills Moving through the Legislature!
CACJ's sponsored legislation, AB 2655, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley
Weber (D-San Diego), passed off the Assembly floor.
AB 2655 would provide defendants with the option of extending their bail for up
to 90 days if the DA fails to file charges. Currently, some bail companies
are requiring individuals to post bail
a second time when charges are filed after the initial 15 day window.
CACJ's co-sponsored legislation, AB 813, introduced last year by Assemblywoman
Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), passed out of Senate Public Safety Committee.
AB 813 provides a procedural vehicle to challenge a legal conviction based on
ineffective assistance of counsel or new evidence of actual innocence
pursuant to the California Supreme Court's decision in
People v Kim (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1078.
Study: No scientific basis for laws on marijuana and driving
A recent study by AAA found that: “Legal limits, also known as per se limits, for marijuana and driving are
arbitrary and unsupported by science.”
The laws in five states automatically presume a driver guilty if that person
tests higher than the limit, and not guilty if it's lower than the
limit. Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO says "in the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by
CACJ remains in strong opposition to
AB 2740, which is currently in Assembly Appropriations Suspense file. AB 2740
creates a per se standard for driving under the influence of marijuana,
including making it a “crime for a person who has 5 ng/ml or more
of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.”
Read more on the study here.