Today's Law As Amended

PDF |Add To My Favorites | print page

AB-745 Commissioners: criminal proceedings in the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.(2017-2018)

As Amends the Law Today

 (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 10.703 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
 (a) In a superior court where there are fewer authorized judgeships than the assessed judicial need, 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 and to fix the amount of bail pursuant to Section 815a.
(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 preside over peace bond hearings pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 701) of Title 1 of Part 2.
(6) Perform other commissioner duties as authorized pursuant to Section 259 of the Code of Civil Procedure and an arraignment, as described in Section 858, and as authorized pursuant to Section 72190.1 of the Government Code.
(b) The presiding judge may direct a commissioner performing duties pursuant to this section to be available on call as a magistrate as described in Section 810.
(c) This section is not intended to limit the authority of commissioners established by other provisions of law.
 This chapter shall only apply to superior courts located within the County of Riverside or the County of San Bernardino.
 On or before January 1, 2021, the Judicial Council shall issue a report regarding the authorization provided by this chapter and transmit the report to the Governor and the Legislature. The report shall include the number of instances in which each duty described in this chapter is performed and the specific legal experience of the commissioners appointed. The Judicial Council shall transmit the report to the Legislature in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
 This chapter shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2021, and as of that date is repealed.
SEC. 3.
 The Legislature finds and declares that a special statute is necessary and that a general statute cannot be made applicable within the meaning of Section 16 of Article IV of the California Constitution because of the unique circumstances of judicial need in the County of Riverside and the County of San Bernardino, it is necessary to issue special and limited authority to the courts in these counties.