California Appellate Defense Counsel

California Appellate Defense Counsel An organization of California attorneys handling dependency and criminal appeals. Please visit our website at cadc.net. Members receive a regular newsletter and monthly eNewsletter, MCLE credits for programs in appellate, criminal and dependency law, access to the member-only areas of our website, including our briefbank, and ability to apply for coverage under a special group malpractice insurance policy which is geared for attorneys who accept court appointed criminal and dependency appeals.

Upcoming Symposium about COVID-19 in California PrisonsThe Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, Hastings Women’s Law J...
01/14/2021

Upcoming Symposium about COVID-19 in California Prisons

The Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, Hastings Women’s Law Journal, and the Hastings Journal of Crime and Punishment with the support of the Institute for Criminal Justice at U.C. Hastings are coming together to host an important symposium on incarceration and healthcare, focusing on the COVID-19 crisis.

The full Symposium schedule can be found at http://sites.uchastings.edu/journal-symposium/symposium-schedule/?mc_cid=9cb48fdf6f&mc_eid=683e171ea0.

The symposium is open and free to the public, and provides MCLE credits for lawyers.

To register to attend all or part of the Symposium, go to http://sites.uchastings.edu/journal-symposium/registration/?mc_cid=9cb48fdf6f&mc_eid=683e171ea0.

Please feel free to share this invite with other interested parties.

'In a letter obtained by HuffPost, Biden’s incoming White House counsel Dana Remus tells Democratic senators to try to f...
12/31/2020
Biden's Team Tells Senate Democrats To Send Him Judicial Nominees ASAP

'In a letter obtained by HuffPost, Biden’s incoming White House counsel Dana Remus tells Democratic senators to try to find public defenders and civil rights attorneys in their states who they think would be a good fit for a federal judgeship.

“With respect to U.S. District Court positions, we are particularly focused on nominating individuals whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench, including those who are public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those who represent Americans in every walk of life,” reads the Dec. 22 letter.'

The president-elect wants recommendations for all existing district court vacancies by Jan. 19, says his incoming White House counsel.

Innocence Project
12/25/2020
Innocence Project

Innocence Project

We're looking for a writer/editor to join our team. If you think that might be you, find out more about the role and how to apply here:

12/22/2020
PrisonReformMovement

PrisonReformMovement

BREAKING NEWS: The IRS has stopped processing CARES Act applications for the 2020 calendar year. If you filed a timely application it is possible your check is still in the mail. If you do not receive a check in the mail within the next couple of weeks, you may need to reapply in early 2021 during the 2020 tax return cycle. We will provide more information about that process as soon as the IRS makes it available.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

"This and many similar cases in California and across the nation led the state Legislature to enact Senate Bill 1437, wh...
12/21/2020
Editorial: ‘Murder by association’ got the ban it deserved in California

"This and many similar cases in California and across the nation led the state Legislature to enact Senate Bill 1437, which took effect in 2019. It holds that, to be charged with murder, a participant in a crime must directly commit or aid in a killing or have the intent to kill. This isn’t just humane. It’s wholly logical. Why should one person suffer extreme consequences for the actions of another?"

On Thursday, the state Supreme Court affirmed the core principle of Senate Bill 1437 which says that, to be charged with murder, a participant in a crime must directly commit or aid in a killing or have the intent to kill.

'Watts, now 64, has been in prison for the past 11 years. He takes medication for seizures, cholesterol and high blood p...
12/17/2020
A California bus crash killed 11. Was the driver’s prison sentence a ‘miscarriage of justice’?

'Watts, now 64, has been in prison for the past 11 years. He takes medication for seizures, cholesterol and high blood pressure between shifts at his custodial job in the medical ward at a Vacaville prison. Recently, he said he’s been cleaning up after inmates suspected of having COVID-19. He earns 55 cents an hour.

“I’m not asking for a lot,” Watts said in an August interview, among some three-dozen since June. “I just want justice.”

This month, John Poyner, Colusa County’s former district attorney who prosecuted Watts, told The Bee that he didn’t know about the seizure disorder. He said it was time for Watts to be released from prison.

“He did not do this on purpose,” Poyner said. “This was not an intentional act in the end. He’s paid his price.”'

Exclusive: It was one of the worst bus crashes in state history. How the justice system rushed the case and ignored critical evidence.

Here's an article from the The San Diego Union-Tribune, written by CADC member Pat Ford, about the impact of AB 3070."Ju...
12/08/2020
Pat Ford: Diverse juries are a strength of our justice system. This new law will make sure they’re selected.

Here's an article from the The San Diego Union-Tribune, written by CADC member Pat Ford, about the impact of AB 3070.

"Jury selection by its nature involves profiling, as each side looks for jurors most likely to accept its presentation. What is prohibited is dismissing jurors because of their race. Under the current system, the prosecutor moves to dismiss a juror of color, the defense objects and the prosecutor has to provide a race-neutral reason for excusing the juror. Prosecutors often provide a pretextual reason, perhaps a vague comment about something liberal in the juror’s appearance or background. Trial judges often accept the prosecutor’s explanation, likely because of their belief that the prosecutors are fair and nonracist people.

Under the new law, greater scrutiny will be applied to the prosecutor’s reasons for challenging the jurors, and the law no longer requires a showing of intentional discrimination. Judges will now consider whether an objective observer would think the challenge of the juror was a function of bias, even a subconscious bias."

Prosecutors don’t like Black people sitting on juries. This uncomfortable fact is well-known in the criminal justice system.

'Gascón also said he would put an end to the use of sentencing enhancements, which prosecutors have long used to win lon...
12/07/2020
On first day as L.A. County D.A., George Gascón eliminates bail, remakes sentencing rules

'Gascón also said he would put an end to the use of sentencing enhancements, which prosecutors have long used to win longer sentences for people who, for example, are alleged to belong to gangs or used a firearm while committing a crime. Gascón has criticized the enhancements, saying they have led to excessive time behind bars for a wide range of defendants. The district attorney’s office, he said, will review “thousands” of cases in which defendants in L.A. County were sentenced under the enhancement rules — a move that could lead to prisoners having their sentences reduced or, in some cases, being released.'

New Dist. Atty. George Gascón announces sweeping policy changes for cash bail in L.A. County and transforms how misdemeanors will be prosecuted.

11/16/2020
At the Lectern | Justice Jenkins indicates interest in Batson/Wheeler and environmental issues

'California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, one of the three members of the Commission on Judicial Appointments, asked Jenkins to identify “a couple of areas” where Jenkins believes the court “will have an opportunity to give the definition of justice a more rounded sense.”

Jenkins first mentioned Batson/Wheeler issues, which concern how to prevent discriminatory jury selection, a subject that is already a hot-button issue at the court (see here). Noting the recent “tumult over issues of racism and issues that relate to sort of a view from a caste system perspective,” he said Batson/Wheeler is an area where the court “is continuing to try to give guidance” and he explained that a new statute on the subject (AB 3070 (see here and here)) “perhaps will be tested at . . . the high court.”'

In general, it’s a long shot to get the Supreme Court to hear a case. But the odds increase if the case is in an area of interest to the court. So, it was noteworthy when the soon-to-be newest justice, Martin Jenkins, disclosed during his confirmation hearing some of the legal issues he thinks the...

What will it take for voters to recognize the importance of judges, and especially state supreme court justices, in refo...
11/09/2020
“Law and Order” Still Reigns in State Supreme Court Elections

What will it take for voters to recognize the importance of judges, and especially state supreme court justices, in reforming our criminal justice system?

'With the exception of Fumo’s campaign, this year’s nationwide crop of state supreme court races looked much like they always have—expensive, dark-money-filled contests between political groups trying to prove their candidate is the most merciless toward violent criminals. The tone of the elections stayed the same, even after a summer of mass protests about racism in the criminal justice system. And these state judicial races are increasingly an outlier, since prosecutorial elections and even some sheriffs’ races have started hinging on progressive reform.
...
Staff at the Brennan Center have been monitoring ads in judicial elections for over 20 years. “[We wondered], would the national reckoning over our criminal justice system finally find its way into state supreme court elections?” said Douglas Keith, who works with the center’s Democracy Program. “By and large the answer is no. The worst cliches of campaign tactics from decades past in other contexts are just really sticky in judicial elections.”'

A Nevada state supreme court candidate was one of very few nationwide to run on a message of reform. Most campaigns leaned on “tough on crime” strategy yet again.

Congratulations to CADC member Andrea St Julian for her hard work on getting Measure B passed in San Diego! Measure B wi...
11/05/2020
Voters Approved a Much Tougher Police Oversight Board – Now What? - Voice of San Diego

Congratulations to CADC member Andrea St Julian for her hard work on getting Measure B passed in San Diego! Measure B will replace the current police oversight board with one that has the power to conduct independent investigations and subpoena witnesses, and its own legal counsel.

Andrea St. Julian, co-chair of San Diegans for Justice and the author of Measure B, spoke to VOSD about its overwhelming passage and how implementation of the measure will work.

Court rules for inmate in qualified immunity case - SCOTUSblog
11/03/2020
Court rules for inmate in qualified immunity case - SCOTUSblog

Court rules for inmate in qualified immunity case - SCOTUSblog

In their orders on Monday, the justices struck down a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that had blocked a Texas inmate’s lawsuit against prison officials. The inmate, Trent Taylor, was forced to spend six days naked in cells that contained feces from previous occupants and o...

A rare reversal from the United States Supreme Court on the issue of qualified immunity. 'In their orders on Monday, the...
11/02/2020
Court rules for inmate in qualified immunity case - SCOTUSblog

A rare reversal from the United States Supreme Court on the issue of qualified immunity.

'In their orders on Monday, the justices struck down a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that had blocked a Texas inmate’s lawsuit against prison officials. The inmate, Trent Taylor, was forced to spend six days naked in cells that contained feces from previous occupants and overflowing sewage. Taylor alleged that prison officials’ conduct violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but the 5th Circuit, invoking a doctrine known as qualified immunity, ruled that the officials could not be sued because it was not “clearly established” that their conduct violated Taylor’s constitutional rights.'

In their orders on Monday, the justices struck down a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that had blocked a Texas inmate’s lawsuit against prison officials. The inmate, Trent Taylor, was forced to spend six days naked in cells that contained feces from previous occupants and o...

'When developmentally disabled prisoners go unidentified, they are even less likely to receive services they are entitle...
11/02/2020
Prison Is Even Worse When You Have a Disability Like Autism

'When developmentally disabled prisoners go unidentified, they are even less likely to receive services they are entitled to under federal law—such as help understanding prison rules or obtaining medications. That loss of assistance leaves them vulnerable to medical misdiagnosis, isolation in solitary confinement, denial of legal and educational opportunities, sexual abuse and bullying, prisoner advocates and relatives say.

“It mirrors or echoes what goes on in society. People with disabilities are often hidden and not seen,” said Susan Politt, a supervising attorney at Disability Rights North Carolina, an advocacy agency. But behind bars, the situation can be even more dire. “They get out in worse condition than when they go in,” she said.

Experts say that incarcerated people of color with intellectual and developmental disabilities are affected disproportionately because they are less likely than their White counterparts to be diagnosed before they enter prison.'

State officials often fail to identify prisoners with developmental disorders, a group that faces overwhelming challenges behind bars, from bright lights to noises to social dynamics.

Congratulations to Christopher Smith, an Ohio Innocence Project client who voted for the first time today! This is what ...
10/30/2020

Congratulations to Christopher Smith, an Ohio Innocence Project client who voted for the first time today! This is what justice looks like.

In April, OIP client Christopher Smith was freed from prison. Today, he voted. His reaction?

"Today I voted for the first time in my life. As I stood at the polls, I thought of every freedom fighter -- Black and White. I felt for the first time that we are really making progress in this world. Even though we have a long way to go, I feel like ME voting is all the proof that a change is going to come. I feel empowered. I feel a part of the world, and I feel Free for the first time in my life ... Oh, how good it feels!"

#vote2020 #justicereform #innocenceproject #Ohio

CPDA California Public Defenders Association
10/26/2020
CPDA California Public Defenders Association

CPDA California Public Defenders Association

Governor Newsom Files Historic Amicus Brief in Death Penalty Case, Arguing for Greater Protections Against Racial Bias in Jury Proceedings

Published: Oct 26, 2020

Builds on Governor’s actions to end the death penalty in California and address systemic racism in the criminal justice system

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today filed an amicus brief in People v. McDaniel, a case before the California Supreme Court that involves issues of racial bias in jury deliberation and sentencing decisions. This filing marks the first time in California history that a sitting governor has filed an amicus brief calling attention to the unfair and uneven application of the death penalty, noting the state’s bedrock responsibility to ensure equal justice under the law applies to all people no matter their race. The brief argues that capital cases should require unanimity in the jury’s penalty verdict and proof beyond a reasonable doubt of disputed aggravating evidence.

“Amid our nationwide reckoning on racism and historical injustice, the State of California is continuing to address the failings in our criminal justice system. California’s capital punishment scheme is now, and always has been, infected by racism,” said Governor Newsom. “Since its inception, the American death penalty has been disproportionately applied, first, to enslaved Africans and African Americans, and, later to free Black people. With this filing, we make clear that all Californians deserve the same right to a jury trial that is fair, and that it is a matter of life and death.”

The Governor’s brief discusses the historical and current mechanisms that lead to the unequal application of capital punishment to people of color, especially Black and Latinx Californians. It then explains how this context, including the legacy of racial terror and subjugation, leads to significant racial disparities in capital prosecutions and sentencing based on the race of defendants and on the race of victims. It describes how people of color are excluded from juries and how their voices are diluted or silenced when they do serve on juries. Since jurors of color often have different experiences and perceptions of the justice system than white jurors and often are less likely to support death verdicts than their white counterparts, the lack of a unanimity or beyond a reasonable doubt requirement compounds racial discrimination and disparities in the death penalty. The brief argues that requiring unanimity in jury determinations and the application of the beyond a reasonable doubt standard to the ultimate penalty determination is necessary to protect against the pernicious influence of racial bias in jury selection and decision-making.

Today’s filing builds on Governor Newsom’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty and actions to end its practice statewide. In March 2019, Governor Newsom issued a moratorium on the death penalty and closed the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison. The Governor has also taken steps to address systemic racism in policing and the criminal justice system, including signing AB 2542, which will prohibit the use of race, ethnicity or national origin to seek or obtain convictions or impose sentences; and AB 3070, which aims to eliminate discrimination in jury selection.

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.

Source link: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/10/26/governor-newsom-files-historic-amicus-brief-in-death-penalty-case-arguing-for-greater-protections-against-racial-bias-in-jury-proceedings/

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