Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Gov. Brown Vetoes SB 607

SB 607
Last month, we covered Senate Bill 607, as it relates to juvenile justice in California. The bill – authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – would have expanded a bill signed into law in 2014 banning the suspension of students in grades K-3 for acts of “disruption and defiance.” Sen. Skinner's proposal had the expressed aim of changing the law to include students through the 8th grade.

Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 607, EdSource reports. While it was unclear if Brown would get on onboard, considering he was opposed to legislation in 2012 that would have banned such suspensions for grades K-12, he showed this month that he would not be swayed. Gov. Brown states that local control is his main reason for rejecting the bill, just as it was in 2012.

Senator Skinner sensed that Brown would come out against her measure much like the Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association. So, she wrote SB-607 to include K-8 rather than K-12, to get the support of the organizations above, hoping it would be enough for Brown as well.

“Teachers and principals are on the front lines of educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classrooms,” said Brown, in the veto message.

Civil Rights Advocates Are Not Surprised

Kids – as everyone knows – can be unruly; punitive measures are one way to teach young people the difference between right and wrong. However, there is a significant body of evidence suggesting that “disruption and defiance” suspensions affect students of color and those with disabilities, disproportionately.

A report from UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies shows that African-American middle-schoolers lost 71 days per 100 students, almost four times the number of days of class missed by their white classmates. When students miss class frequently, they are far more likely to get in other – more severe – types of trouble. Suspension and expulsion are often the catalysts of the school-to-prison pipeline. The California Department of Education CALPADS Data, 2016-17, shows that black and brown boys were 53.3% of disruption/defiance suspensions in the 2016-17 school year, despite making up only 30.7% of CA students.

Bills like SB-607 and its predecessor are meant to force the hand of educators to utilize disciplinary measures that did not take students out of class for minor infractions, before they resort to harsher courses of action. Despite being at odds with Gov. Brown’s decision, youth and civil rights advocates are not surprised, according to the article. Moreover, they are, in a word, disappointed!

“[Brown] has rejected an opportunity to transform school climate and address a racial injustice in our schools statewide,” said Angelica Salazar, director of education equity for Children’s Defense Fund, California. Senator Skinner has not committed to introducing a new bill next year.

Juvenile Defense in California

Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh if you require the assistance of an Orange County school expulsion lawyer. Attorney Walsh has overseen thousands of juvenile cases in California. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Katie Walsh can advocate for your family.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Restricting Juveniles' Visits With Attorneys

juvenile defense
The National Juvenile Defender Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) are two of several organizations taking issue with a blanket order by Judith Clark, presiding judge of Riverside’s Juvenile Court, The Los Angeles Time reports. The Riverside County judge is restricting youth in juvenile delinquency proceedings from engaging in one-on-one discussions with their lawyers at courthouses. Judge Clark argues that the Riverside County Probation Department has “insufficient resources” to provide personnel to supervise face-to-face courthouse visits.

“The purpose of this order … is to ensure that juvenile detainees have meaningful access to the courts while the court maintains the security and safety of all court users,” the order reads.

Blanket Order 30 means that juveniles have to discuss their cases with their attorneys in open court or a courthouse interview room, using phones and separated by a partition, according to the article. Juvenile defense attorneys can try to persuade a judge to grant private meetings.

Restricting Juveniles' Visits

“For now over 50 years the courts have recognized that kids in delinquency proceedings have a right to counsel and to effective assistance of counsel,” said Ian Kysel, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “The blanket order would prevent kids from meeting with their attorneys in the very context where they need the guidance of counsel the most.”

Rights organizations are not the only entities raising objections over the blanket order; defense attorneys argue that restrictions don’t take language barriers, disabilities, and mental illness into consideration. Mary Ann Scali, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center, points out that not many states have similar physical barrier restrictions on attorney/client meetings. Scali says that Judith Clark’s order makes Riverside an “outlier.”

“Effective communication requires contact visitation,” said Scali. “We know that when we are talking with young people it’s important that we have eye contact, that being in their physical presence and space is important in terms of trust. It’s also critically important in terms of confidentiality.” 

County Judge Judith Clark revised and signed Blanket Order 30 on September 28, 2018, The Desert Sun reports. Clark says the order would not limit juvenile's access to an attorney; the revised order specifies that the court "shall accommodate" contact visits on the day of hearings at either the courthouse or the juvenile detention center next door and such contact will require a judge's permission.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

Juvenile defense attorney, Katie Walsh, ensures that her clients' cases stand apart from the others and works tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome. Attorney Walsh uses her experience to achieve results for her clients that impact their records the least. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Governor Signs Senate Bill 1391

SB 1391
Governor Jerry Brown signed two measures over the weekend relevant to juvenile justice in California, Senate Bill 439 and Senate Bill 1391. You may remember that we have covered both pieces of legislation at length in the last year; SB 1391 we wrote about as recently as last week when it was still uncertain that Brown would pen his name to the proposed bills.

On Sunday, Gov. Brown approved SB 439 which establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, unless the offense is murder or rape, The Sacramento Bee reports. He also gave SB 1391 his stamp of approval which eliminates the ability to try a defendant under the age of 16 as an adult, keeping more young people out of prison.

Juvenile justice reform is a cause championed by Sens. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. Both lawmakers have worked tirelessly in recent years to get SB 439 and SB 1391 to the Governor's desk, and succeeded. The measures go into effect next year.

“There is a fundamental principle at stake here: whether we want a society which at least attempts to reform the youngest offenders before consigning them to adult prisons where their likelihood of becoming a lifelong criminal is so much higher,” Brown wrote. He added, “My view is that we should continue to work toward a more just system that respects victims, protects public safety, holds youth accountable, and also seeks a path of redemption and reformation whenever possible.”

Cradle to Prison Pipeline

Please take a moment to watch a short video of Sen. Holly Mitchell, the coauthor of SB 1391, as she discusses the “cradle to prison pipeline:”

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

As was mentioned in previous posts, not everyone in California is in favor juvenile justice reforms that aim to emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration. Various law enforcement groups object to both measures, according to the article. However, advocates for SB 439 and SB 1391 argue that teens don’t fully understand the ramifications of their actions – the difference between right and wrong – owing to their brains not being fully developed; they contend that incarceration increases the risk of committing more crimes down the road and recidivism.

“Children are not pint-sized adults. Instead, they should be cared for with an emphasis on rehabilitation — not warehousing,” Mitchell said.

California Juvenile Defense

Attorney Katie Walsh has the experience to advocate for families whose children are facing legal trouble effectively. Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh require a juvenile defense lawyer in California. Attorney Walsh can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your son or daughter's case.