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AB-745 Commissioners: criminal proceedings.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/30/2017 09:00 PM
AB745:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 30, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 745


Introduced by Assembly Member Reyes

February 15, 2017


An act to amend Section 273.8 of the Penal Code, relating to spousal abuse. add Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 811) to Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, relating to commissioners.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 745, as amended, Reyes. Spousal abuse: Spousal Abuser Prosecution Program. Commissioners: criminal proceedings.
Existing law authorizes a presiding judge of a court to direct a commissioner to perform duties and exercise authority relating to certain criminal proceedings, including, among others, conducting arraignment proceedings and issuing and signing bench warrants.
This bill would expand the authority of a presiding judge to direct a commissioner to perform duties and exercise authority in criminal proceedings to include, among others, issuing a search warrant, issuing a warrant of commitment, and presiding over peace bond hearings. The bill also makes legislative findings and declarations in support of its provisions.

Existing law establishes the Spousal Abuser Prosecution Program for the purpose of awarding funds to cities and counties in which prosecuting agencies establish spousal abuser prosecution units. Existing law makes findings about the efficacy of specially trained prosecutors in increasing the likelihood of convicting spousal abusers and ensuring appropriate sentences and states the intent of the Legislature to support increased efforts to prosecute spousal abusers.

This bill would make a technical, nonsubstantive change to these provisions.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) There is a critical shortage of judges relative to the workload needs in California’s trial courts. The Judicial Council has reported to the Legislature and the Governor pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 69614 of the Government Code that based on its 2016 Judicial Needs Assessment, 31 courts need new judgeships, for a total need of 188.5 full-time equivalent judicial positions, known as FTEs. The need estimate does not include judicial vacancies resulting from retirements, elevations, or other vacancies that have not yet been filled.
(2) The public’s right to timely access to justice should not be contingent on the resource levels of the county in which they reside or bring their legal disputes.
(3) The purpose of commissioners is “to assist an overburdened judiciary with the performance of ‘subordinate judicial duties’”(Branson v. Martin (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 300, 305).
(4) Rule 10.462 of the California Rules of Court requires that commissioners receive the same level and rigor of training as trial court judges.
(5) Commissioners are subject to the California Code of Judicial Ethics. Rule 10.763 of the California Rules of Court requires that if a court disciplines a subordinate judicial officer by written reprimand, suspension, or termination for conduct that, if alleged against a judge, would be within the jurisdiction of the Commission on Judicial Performance under Section 18 of Article VI of the California Constitution, the presiding judge of the court must promptly forward to the commission a copy of the portions of the court file that reasonably reflect the basis of the action taken by the court, including the complaint or allegations of misconduct and the subordinate judicial officer’s response. Section 18.1 of Article VI of the California Constitution requires the Commission on Judicial Performance to exercise discretionary jurisdiction with regard to the oversight and discipline of commissioners.
(6) Allowing courts to assign commissioners to perform magistrate duties provides greater flexibility in the use of existing judicial and commissioner resources to increase access to justice while equitably addressing judicial workload concerns.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that commissioners who are assigned to perform magistrate duties receive the same level of training and oversight required for trial court judges assigned to perform those duties.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 811) is added to Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, to read:
CHAPTER  3.5. Matters Before Commissioners

811.
 (a) The presiding judge of a court may direct a commissioner to perform any of the following duties or exercise any of the following authority of a magistrate:
(1) The authority to issue a warrant for the arrest of a person charged with a public offense pursuant to Section 807.
(2) The authority to order a search warrant pursuant to Section 1524.
(3) The authority to issue and sign a bench warrant pursuant to Section 72190.1 of the Government Code.
(4) The authority to issue a warrant of commitment pursuant to Sections 881 and 1488.
(5) The authority to arraign a defendant and to bind the defendant over for trial or to release the defendant pursuant to Section 72190.1 of the Government Code or Section 858, and to fix the amount of bail pursuant to Section 815a.
(6) The authority to preside over peace bond hearings pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 701) of Title 1 of Part 2.
(7) Perform other duties as provided in Section 259 of the Code of Civil Procedure, including, but not limited to, acting as a temporary judge upon stipulation of the parties.
(b) The presiding judge may direct a commissioner performing duties pursuant to this section to be available on call as a magistrate pursuant to Section 810.
(c) This section is not intended to limit the authority of commissioners established by other provisions of law.

SECTION 1.Section 273.8 of the Penal Code is amended to read:
273.8.

The Legislature hereby finds that spousal abusers present a clear and present danger to the mental and physical well-being of the citizens of the State of California. The Legislature further finds that the concept of vertical prosecution, in which a specially trained deputy district attorney, deputy city attorney, or prosecution unit is assigned to a case after arraignment and continuing to its completion, is a proven way of demonstrably increasing the likelihood of convicting spousal abusers and ensuring appropriate sentences for those offenders. In enacting this chapter, it is the intent of the Legislature to support increased efforts by district attorneys’ and city attorneys’ offices to prosecute spousal abusers through organizational and operational techniques that have already proven their effectiveness in selected cities and counties in this and other states.