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 will have an opportunity to participate in all of these activities and more at the state-wide Conference of California Bar Associations ("CCBA” or "Conference”) from September 30-October 2, 2016 in San Diego and have 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 will meet from September 30-October 2, 2016, during the same weekend the State Bar Convention is held in San Diego. During the Conference, the various bar associations debate 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 that will be debated at this year’s Conference or to register to attend the 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, last year, CCBA sponsored or supported approximately 20 bills containing approximately 22 resolutions that the Governor signed into law on a wide range of topics.
This year, WLALA is sponsoring two resolutions. The first relates to motions to compel further responses to discovery and is a resolution that is generally supported by the Los Angeles Superior Court. As you may be aware, some of the LASC courts have either required or offered to have the parties come before the Court for an Informal Discovery Conference before filing a motion to compel. The Informal Discovery Conferences are a great way for the judge to get a quick look at the controversy and try to resolve it without having to expend resources reviewing the hundreds or thousands of pages of a separate statement, exhibits, etc. Informal Discovery Conferences resolve discovery disputes in the vast majority of the cases without the need for a formal motion to compel thus saving the courts and the parties a lot of time, money, etc. I have participated in Informal Discovery Conferences and they resolved the issue in 10 minutes without anyone filing a motion. However, there is no statutory authority to allow a court to require an Informal Discovery Conference. This resolution would not mandate Informal Discovery Conferences, it would just give the Superior Courts authority to require them and authority to pass Local Rules relating to them.
The second resolution amends California Penal Code § 647(j) to eliminate the requirement that a voyeurism victim be “identifiable”, meaning a recognizable, specific, person. In California, it is a misdemeanor secretly to photograph, record, videotape etc., another person under or through his or her clothing without his or her consent. California Penal Code § 647(j)(2). Thus, for example, it is a misdemeanor for a person riding an escalator to take his or her cell phone and place it under the skirt of a woman riding the escalator above him, and record or photograph her genitals, undergarments etc. However, as the law is written, if the person being recorded is not recognizable or identifiable, it is not a crime. The resolution seeks to eliminate the “identifiable” requirement. Both of WLALA's resolutions, as well as all the approximately 100 resolutions submitted by all the different bar associations are at CCBA’s website at www.calconference.org.
It is not too early to start thinking about resolutions to submit for next year’s Conference which will be held in the fall of 2017. Although the final deadline to submit resolutions to CCBA will be in February or March 2017, if you want WLALA to sponsor a resolution, WLALA’s delegation chair, Shaun Dabby Jacobs, (firstname.lastname@example.org) needs 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 also to get more involved by joining the WLALA delegation and attending this year’s Conference in San Diego.
Shaun Dabby Jacobs is a chair of the WLALA Conference of California Bar Association. Ms. Jacobs is Deputy City Attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.