WLALA's Delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations
By Shaun Dabby Jacobs
Have you ever thought, "this law should be changed or amended,” or "it should not exist at all?” Have you ever thought "there ought to be a law about this” but when you researched the appropriate legal authorities, you found no law existed that addressed the topic you researched? Do you enjoy debating policy and the law as well as meeting interesting people from across the state? WLALA’s delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations had an opportunity to participate in all of these activities and more at the state-wide Conference of California Bar Associations ("CCBA” or "Conference”) in September and had a lot of fun in the process.
CCBA is a group of attorneys from local, specialty, and minority bar associations across the state, that are focused on improving California’s laws. This year, CCBA met from October 9-11, 2015, during the same weekend the State Bar Convention was held in Anaheim. During the Conference, the various bar associations debated revisions and amendments to California law called "resolutions.” Once a resolution is passed by the Conference, CCBA’s lobbyist takes the resolution to the State Legislature or California Judicial Council to find a sponsor and hopefully get the resolution passed into law. To see the resolutions debated at this year’s Conference go to CCBA’s website at www.calconference.org.
The success rate of the CCBA lobbyist, Larry Doyle, has been impressive with many of the last few year’s resolutions enacted into law. For example, this year, CCBA sponsored or supported 20 bills containing 22 resolutions that the Governor signed into law on a wide range of topics, including a bill to protect against the criminal exploitation of minors by increasing penalties against defendants that solicit prostitution, a bill to eliminate mandatory sentencing minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, a bill to require common interest developments (homeowners’ associations) to allow their members to accept drought tolerant plants, and bills to address civil procedure issues including the acceptance of electronic signatures for certain documents filed in court, and the allowance of interpreter costs for depositions as a recoverable cost to a prevailing party.
The Governor also enacted into law a resolution WLALA supported regarding an amendment to Civil Code section 52.4, which allows for individuals to recover civil penalties against those that commit violence against them due to their gender, to expand the group of people protected by the statute to include transgender and homosexual individuals. WLALA played a key part in helping enact the amendment to the statute, AB 830, by writing letters to the Legislature and Governor in support of the statute and drafting portions of the fact sheets the Legislature used during various committee hearings on the bill. During the Conference, we received a framed copy of the bill signed by the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman.
It is not too early to start thinking about resolutions to submit for next year’s Conference which will be held from September 30, 2016-October 2, 2016 in San Diego. Although the final deadline to submit resolutions to CCBA is on February 19, 2016, if you want WLALA to sponsor a resolution, WLALA’s delegation chairs, Lindsay Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Shaun Dabby Jacobs, (email@example.com) need it by the end of November to give WLALA sufficient time to complete its vetting process. We encourage anyone who has ever had an idea for how the law may be improved, as well as people curious about the process to talk to Shaun and Lindsay, and also to consider getting more involved by joining the WLALA delegation and attending next year’s Conference.