BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 694|
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 694
          Author:   Leno (D)
          Introduced:2/27/15  
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  5-2, 4/21/15
           AYES:  Hancock, Leno, Liu, McGuire, Monning
           NOES:  Anderson, Stone

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  5-2, 5/28/15
           AYES:  Lara, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza
           NOES:  Bates, Nielsen

           SUBJECT:   New evidence:  habeas corpus:  motion to vacate  
                     judgment:  indemnity


          SOURCE:    Author


          DIGEST:   This bill allows the granting of a habeas corpus  
          petition based on new evidence which "raises a reasonable  
          probability of a different outcome if a new trial were granted."

          ANALYSIS:   




          Existing law:


          1)Provides that every person unlawfully imprisoned or restrained  








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            of his or her liberty, under any pretense whatever, may  
            prosecute a writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the cause of  
            such imprisonment or restraint.  (Penal Code  1473(a).)

          2)States that a writ of habeas corpus may be prosecuted for, but  
            not limited to, the following reasons:

                 False evidence that is substantially material or  
               probative on the issue of guilt, or punishment was  
               introduced against a person at any hearing or trial  
               relating to his incarceration;


                 False physical evidence believed by a person to be  
               factual, material or probative on the issue of guilt, which  
               was known by the person at the time of entering a plea of  
               guilty and which was a material factor directly related to  
               the plea of guilty by the person. (Penal Code  1473 (b))

          1)Provides that any allegation that the prosecution knew or  
            should have known of the false nature of the evidence is  
            immaterial to the prosecution of a writ of habeas corpus.   
            (Penal Code  1473(c).)

          2)States that nothing in this section shall be construed as  
            limiting the grounds for which a writ of habeas corpus may be  
            prosecuted or as precluding the use of any other remedies.   
            (Penal Code  1473(d).)

          3)Provides that in a contested proceeding, if a court grans a  
            writ of habeas corpus concerning a person who is unlawfully  
            imprisoned or restrained, the court vacates a judgment on the  
            basis of new evidence concerning a person who is no longer  
            unlawfully imprisoned or restrained and if the court finds  
            that the new evidence on the petition points unerringly to  
            innocence, that finding shall be binding on the California  
            Crime Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board for  
            acclaim presented to the board, and upon application by the  
            person, the board shall, without a hearing, recommend to the  
            Legislature that an appropriation be made. (Penal Code   
            1485.55(a)) 

          4)Provides that "new evidence" means evidence that was not  
            available or knows at the time of trial that completely  







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            undermines the prosecution case and points unerringly to  
            innocence. (Penal Code  1485.55(b))

          This bill:

          1)Adds, as grounds for a writ of habeas corpus, new evidence  
            exists which would raise a reasonable probability of a  
            different outcome if a new trial were granted.

          2)Changes that standard from "points unerringly to innocence' to  
            "raises a possibility of a different outcome if a new trial  
            were granted."

          3)Changes that standard from "undermines the prosecution case  
            and points unerringly to innocence' to "raises a possibility  
            of a different outcome if a new trial were granted."

          Background


          Habeas corpus.  Habeas corpus, also known as "the Great Writ",  
          is a process guaranteed by both the federal and state  
          Constitutions to obtain prompt judicial relief from illegal  
          restraint.  The functions of the writ is set forth in Penal Code  
          section 1473(a):  "Every person unlawfully imprisoned or  
          restrained of his or her liberty, under any pretense whatever,  
          may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire into the cause  
          of such imprisonment or restraint."  A writ of habeas corpus may  
          be prosecuted for, but not limited to, the following reasons:

           False evidence that is substantially material or probative on  
            the issue of guilt, or punishment was introduced against a  
            person at any hearing or trial relating to his incarceration;


           False physical evidence believed by a person to be factual,  
            material or probative on the issue of guilt, which was known  
            by the person at the time of entering a plea of guilty and  
            which was a material factor directly related to the plea of  
            guilty by the person; and,


           Any allegation that the prosecution knew or should have known  
            of the false nature of the evidence is immaterial to the  







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            prosecution of a writ of habeas corpus.   

          Reasonable probability standard.  In California, there is no  
          codified standard of proof for a writ of habeas corpus brought  
          on the basis of new evidence.  The current standard is based on  
          case law. In re Lawley (2008) 42 Cal. 4th 1231, 1239 found that  
          newly discovered evidence "must undermine the entire prosecution  
          case and point unerringly to innocence or reduced culpability;"  
          and "if 'a reasonable jury could have rejected' the evidence  
          presented, a petition has not satisfied his burden."  This bill  
          instead sets the standard for the granting of a writ of habeas  
          corpus as "new evidence exists which would raise a reasonable  
          probability of a different outcome if a new trial were granted.  
          The reasonable probability standard the same standard that is  
          used in most other states and in California is used for cases  
          of: ineffective assistance of counsel; false evidence; and,  
          prosecutorial misconduct.



          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No

          According the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Potential future increase in General Fund appropriations for  
            payment of approved claims for compensation to exonerees  
            potentially in the hundreds of thousands to low millions of  
            dollars in any one year for: 1) new cases granted a writ of  
            habeas corpus on the grounds of new evidence, as defined; 2)  
            new cases in which a court vacates judgment on the basis of  
            the revised definition of new evidence; and, 3) claims that  
            otherwise would not have been paid under the higher standard  
            for a court finding and subject to a Board hearing. Annual  
            costs would vary based on the number of claims filed and the  
            duration of unlawful imprisonment specific to each individual.  
            Since 2002, 14 claims have been paid totaling $5.3 million,  
            ranging in amount from $17,000 to $757,000, with an average  
            compensation amount of $379,000. Three claims totaling about  
            $1 million are pending legislative approval.


           Potentially significant increase in Attorney General workload  
            (General Fund) to the extent a greater number of claims  







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            meeting the lower standard of "reasonable probability" result  
            in additional petitions granted. Resources could potentially  
            be required for post-verdict investigations, and to litigate  
            retrials, appeals, and collateral challenges.


           No significant workload impact to the Board. Potential  
            increases in the number of claims submitted for review are  
            estimated to be offset in whole or in part by the reduced  
            workload resulting from fewer required hearings in order to  
            recommend an appropriation for claims prospectively.


           Potential future cost savings (General Fund) in averted  
            incarceration of an unknown, but potentially significant  
            amount to the extent future writs of habeas corpus are  
            granted.

          SUPPORT:   (Verified  5/29/15)

          ACLU
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
          California Innocence Project
          California Public Defenders Association
          Drug Policy Alliance
          Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
          Friends Committee on Legislation of California
          Innocence Project
          Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
          Northern California Innocence Project


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified  5/29/15)


          California District Attorneys Association
          Crime Victims Action Alliance
          Judicial Council


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:     

          In support the ACLU notes that:








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               SB 694 would incorporate into California law a  
               standard of proof that is in alignment with almost all  
               other states. SB 694 will allow a wrongfully convicted  
               person to receive a new trial if he or she presents  
               the reviewing court with evidence that is of such a  
               decisive value and force that there is a reasonable  
               probability of a different outcome if a new trial were  
               granted. This standard brings the actual innocence  
               claim into alignment with other post-conviction  
               remedies for established constitutional violations,  
               including claims of ineffective assistance of counsel,  
               prosecutorial misconduct, and false evidence.


          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:     

          The California District Attorneys Association opposes this bill  
          stating:

               The proposed standard allows for a new trial when  
               there is merely a reasonable probability that the  
               outcome would be different because of newly discovered  
               evidence. This standard is even less than a  
               preponderance of the evidence, and thus is  
               ridiculously low in this context. The proposed  
               standard is currently mandated by the United States  
               Constitution only when there is a constitutionality  
               defective trial because of ineffective assistance of  
               counsel or Brady error for example. (emphasis in  
               original)

               In contrast, SB 694 proposes to use the standard for  
               relief designed to remedy a constitutionally defective  
               trial, even though the trial was fair. Simply put, the  
               finality of judgments is sacrificed, and the meaning  
               of a guilty verdict is redefined for the public,  
               victims, and the justice system to mean guilty unless  
               the defendant can produce newly discovered evidence  
               with less than fifty percent chance of changing the  
               outcome. The standard is no longer that the defendant  
               appears to be innocent, but rather, even though the  
               defendant is more likely guilty than not, the  
               defendant gets a new trial.








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               When habeas relief is granted years after a conviction  
               by trial, it is frequently not possible to retry the  
               defendant due to passage of time. Thus the effect of  
               SB 694 is to "exonerate" convicted individuals who  
               have less than fifty percent chance of winning a new  
               trial.


          Prepared by:Mary Kennedy / PUB. S. / 
          5/30/15 17:40:44


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