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Bill Limiting Local Authority over Personnel Matters Granted Reconsideration

Cities Encouraged to Call Assembly Public Safety Committee in Opposition of SB 313 Prior to July 2

June 28, 2013
On a 3–1 vote, SB 313 (DeLeón) didn’t receive enough votes to move out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee this week but was granted reconsideration. It will be reheard on July 2.
 
This League-opposed measure prohibits public agencies from taking punitive action against a public safety officer or denying a promotion on grounds other than merit should the officer’s name be on a Brady list. Established by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, state and local prosecutors are required to maintain a Brady list consisting of public safety officer names identified by the department as engaging in untrustworthy acts, such as lying in an official capacity, or related dishonest actions. Prosecutors are subsequently required to inform a defendant and the defense attorney when an officer involved in their case is on a Brady list.
 
The League has two main issues with SB 313. The bill ignores the underlying problem, which is the lack of due process in some jurisdictions. The criteria for who is placed on a list can differ from county to county because sole discretion is left to the district attorney. This means that in some jurisdictions officers may not have any input. Some counties have implemented due process measures. For instance, in Los Angeles County a panel reviews the case and issues a preliminary decision and the officer has the option to appeal that preliminary decision to a secondary panel. The League is also concerned that there is no opportunity for appeal once an officer is placed on a Brady list. Instead of addressing these problems, the bill limits the authority of public agency employers to appropriately address personnel matters.
 
According to the Peace Officer Research Association of California, the bill’s sponsor, the standard for placing public safety officers on a Brady list varies from county to county. Some counties implement and maintain a Brady policy with no discernible standard for inclusion or mechanism for appeal, resulting in the arbitrary and perpetual placement of public safety officers on Brady lists.
 
The California Sherriff’s Association argues in opposition that once an officer is placed on a Brady list, the ability of that officer to serve a public agency is compromised. An officer may no longer be allowed to testify in court because doing so could result in a criminal case being reversed or subject a public agency to civil liability if a wrongful conviction results. Unfortunately, if an officer is no longer able to testify under oath, he or she is no longer able to serve reliably on patrol, effectuate arrests, or file reports. SB 313 limits public agencies from reassigning officers to other duties.
 
If this measure continues to move, the League encourages the author and sponsor to work with stakeholders to craft a bill addressing the lack of due process before an officer is placed on a Brady list and the lack of appeal once an officer has been placed on a Brady list.   
 
Take Action
 
The League’s SB 313 opposition letter is available online.
 
The Assembly Public Safety Committee will take the measure up again on July 2. Cities are encouraged to call members of the Assembly Public Safety Committee and explain why cities are opposed to this measure.
 
Please call the members who voted No to thank them and encourage them to remain in opposition. The League also encourages city officials to call members that voted Aye and ask them to change their vote to No. For those members not voting, ask that they do the same or vote No.
 
Below is a list of committee members, their vote and Capitol phone number.

Chair, Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco)  voted No  (916) 319-2017
Vice chair, Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore)  voted Aye  (916) 319-2067
Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles)  voted Aye  (916) 319-2059
Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles)  not voting  (916) 319-2054
Bill Quirk (D-Hayward)  not voting  (916) 319-2020
Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)  not voting  (916) 319-2015
Marie Waldron (D-Escondido)  voted Aye  (916) 319-2075





 
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