Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR 48: What is it and How would it impact Inmates?

Our law office received several inquiries on SCR 48, thus it was best to provide a good article Excerpt from the July 2017 LSA Newsletter - written by Vanessa Nelson of LSA.

========================================================================

A basic understanding of the legislative process starts with knowing the difference between AB and SB bills; in California as well nationally, there are two houses in the legislature.

In California those are the state Senate and the Assembly. Bills (potential laws) that originate in the Senate are labeled SB, and those starting in the Assembly as AB.

So what is an SCR?  SCR stands for Senate Concurrent Resolution. Breaking it down, this piece of quasi-legislation originated in the Senate, concurrent means the other chamber (the Assembly) agrees, with the language, the resolution.

More particularly, what is SCR 48, where is it in the legislative process and what, if anything, will it do to change laws relative to lifers? The short answer to the last part of the question is; nothing, yet.

According to the California legislature, a Continuing Resolution is “A measure that can be introduced in either House, but must be approved by both Houses and filed with the Secretary of State to take effect. The Governor’s signature is not required.” In fact, the resolution is not even submitted to the Governor, and thus a resolution, even one approved by both houses of the legislature, does not have the force of law.

In this case, SCR 48, which has passed the Senate and has good chance of passage in the Assembly, expresses the intention of the legislature to “recognize the need for statutory changes to more equitably sentence offenders in accordance with their involvement in the crime.” Specifically, if this resolution at some point becomes the basis for a bill, it would impact the felony murder law.

Quoting from the language of the resolution: “It is a bedrock principle of the law and of equity that a person should be punished for his or her actions according to his or her own level of individual culpability; reform is needed in California to limit convictions and subsequent sentencing in both felony murder cases and aider and abettor matters prosecuted under “natural and probable consequences” doctrine so that the law of California fairly addresses the culpability of the individual.” The language continues, the felony murder rule is “is fundamentally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criminal culpability,” and “In California, people who commit a felony are not sentenced according to their individual level of culpability.

Cut to the chase, after several more ‘whereas’ statements, which lay out all the issues with the felony murder law, the resolution gets around to business, that the legislature “recognizes the need for statutory changes to more equitably sentence offenders in accordance with their involvement in the crime.”

Thus the legislature has expressed its collective feeling that the felony murder rule is inappropriate, unjust and costly. Now, if only next legislative session, someone will just take that resolution and turn it into an actual Bill, passage of which could actually change that the law.

====================================================================

A BIG THANK YOU [to our strong Lifer Advocate Vanessa Nelson] out of the Sacramento area which is well located (in the Capital city) to advocate and support new laws.

**  EXCERPT from: Vanessa Nelson-Sloane’s Article from the from Life Support Alliance (LSA) July 2017 newsletter - thank you for clarifying SCR 48 and its process in the law making procedures.

Friday, July 7, 2017

6/24/17 ECC 5th ANNUAL LIFER BBQ: Do you recognize anyone?



FIFTH ANNUAL LIFER BBQ at City Buena Park - Fun had by ALL again!

The Fifth annual lifer picnic Hosted by Gary “Red” Eccher and Attorney Keith Chandler [ECCHER CONSULTING COMPANY (ECC)] gets better every year, with the typical grilled hot dog, BBQ style. We had additional food items ranging from pizza to fried chicken; delivered on the hour (fresh and hot) for several hours through the day.  The meals were well rounded with veggies, fruits and sweets! We had great 70 ish degree weather with a cool breezes in the typical Southern Sunny California day. 
Over 300 people gathered thorough the day at Buena Park from Noon to 6 pm. We had the typical LIFER Group picture (see below) at 3pm. This year there was a Southern California  "Pow Wow" by several Lifer Criminal Defense Attorneys (and paralegals) participating in a strategy session to deal with what seems to be developing anti-Lifer trends at BPH. 
(Left:  "Red" and Diane Letarte - aka Renegade Attorney)

 On the lighter side - several Photos were taken:
 - Courtesy of Attorney Diane Letarte and her legal assistant Yolanda Navarro.

 

 As Vanessa Sloane (:SA) would say: "Some parolees had been out only a few days, some several years, but all were united by the fellowship only earned through surviving the crucible of prison and parole."



 

 Attorneys Diane Letarte, Marc Norton, Michael Beckman, Keith Chandler and infamous "Doc" Miller


 The Three Amigas:   Vanessa Nelson, Attorney Letarte, Sister Mary Sean Hodges


 Debbie Page, Laura Sheppard were among several other attorneys that appeared at the Lifer BBQ.



A friendly chat with "Red" and familiar faces of the Law Office of Diane Letarte including Yolanda Navarro, Legal Assistant (Yolanda's mother Irma) and Lydia Lenz!










Some of our Clients enjoying Freedom










Attorney Keith Chandler having an intense discussion with Attorney Marc Norton, Attorney Michael Beckman, and Vanessa Nelson-Sloane (from LSA)




 A BIG THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT PARTICIPATED AND TO ECC FOR ALL THEIR GENEROUS TIME AND EFFORT FOR ORGANIZING THIS ANNUAL LIFER EVENT!






Monday, June 19, 2017

SB 394: Ending Juvenile Life without Parole and AB 1308 expansion to 25 y.o. YOPH (Youth Offender Parole Hearing)

The Law Office of Diane T.  Letarte has been getting many letters and phone calls regarding the expansion of current Juvenile Laws (SB9, SB260, SB261), to hopefully include the new SB394 and AB1308. (see our prior BLOGs on the existing Youth offender laws)

First, everyone must be aware that SB9 applies to only LWOP juveniles, meaning they were under the age of 18 years old when they committed the crime and have no Possibility of Parole. Second, the SB260 and SB261 (under the age of 23 on the day of the crime) ONLY applies to Lifers (with Possibility of Parole) and Determinate Sentence (DSL) Juvenile inmates, not to LWOPs (Life without Possibility of Parole). If we remember the SB9 law, it allowed the JLWOP to petition the Court to be re-sentenced to take into consideration the "Hallmark features of Youth" (more or less) at the time of the crime to mitigate their sentence, thus having the possibility to eliminate the LWOP sentence  to a Life sentence with the Possibility of Parole. LESS GUILTY BY REASON OF ADOLESCENCE - sorta speak!

Having the above juvenile law stated, then we can report that the new SB394 and AB1308 are moving along successfully BUT---- they are NOT law at the writing of this article. In short, SB 394 would automatically send LWOP inmates who were under 18 at the time of their crime to a Parole Hearing after 25 years of incarceration. AB 1308 would extend YOPH (Youth Parole Hearing non-LWOP) considerations to those who were “25 years of age or younger”,  at the time of the crime.

SB 394: Would allow those sentenced to LWOP for crimes committed before the age of 18 to be automatically seen by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) after 25 years of incarceration. This bill passed the Senate floor, and is now in the Assembly committee process awaiting assignment to committee, expected to be Assembly Public Safety. No date yet set for a vote; We support this bill.


AB 1308: Extends the provision of Youth Offender Parole Suitability Hearings to those who were “25 years of age or younger” at the time of the crime. This bill, which extends (SB260/261) YOPH consideration is now in the Senate committee process, expected to be referred to Senate Public Safety. It cleared the Assembly floor, largely along party line votes. We support this bill. 

Furthermore on SB394, it would remedy the now unconstitutional juvenile sentences of life without the possibility of parole (JLWOP). This bill would:

---Allow the approximate 290 juveniles with LWOP cases to be eligible for an initial parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration. There would be no guarantee of parole, only an opportunity for the person to work hard and try to earn the chance for parole via the Board for a Youth Offender Parole Suitability Hearing (BPH).

---Streamline the process and bring California into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent ruling by making juveniles sentenced to life without parole  (JLWOP) eligible under the state’s existing youth offender parole (SB 260 governed by Penal Code 3051) process.

---Eliminate the need to Petition the Court for a resentencing hearing (if you were under 18 y.o at the time of the crime), which is the current process under the SB9 law.

For a complete legislative FACT sheet (SB394) see Senator Ricardo Lara