In today’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we continue to explore the myriad of issues surrounding the shooting of Stephon Clark. To see where we started this series, you can refer back to last week’s episode where we talked with McGeorge alumna and former Deputy District Attorney Alana Mathews; McGeorge alumnus, former Public Defender, and criminal defense attorney Keith Staten, civil rights and criminal defense attorney Justin Ward, and founding member of the American Society of Evidence Based Policing Dr. Obed Magny.

Today’s conversation starts with two people familiar to regular CAP⋅impact readers, Leslie Jacobs – Professor of Law and Director of the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law – and Mary-Beth Moylan – Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Experiential Learning at McGeorge School of Law – talking about the issues they know best – free speech and elections, respectively – as they relate to the shooting and death of Stephon Clark.

We also talk with State Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-AD 7) who represents Sacramento in the California Legislature. We talk with Asm. McCarty about the impact the shooting and the protests have had in his district. We also discuss the legislation he is working on in response to the shooting as well as his push for independent investigations of instances of use of deadly force.

I hope you enjoy today’s episode. If you did enjoy today’s show, please subscribe to The CAP⋅impact Podcast on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and leave the show a five star review while you’re there. You can also let us know what you think of today’s episode in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.




The Role of the Capital Lawyer

Today’s podcast is on the role of the capital lawyer. One of the things we do here at McGeorge School of Law is train individuals to be successful capital lawyers. I’ll talk more about how McGeorge trains capital lawyers in the coming weeks.

So, who are capital lawyers, and what do they do? Capital lawyers are those who attain the fundamental knowledge and skills that are essential to lawyering in California state government. Of course, these individuals could also practice law at the local or federal levels of government.

Some of the foundational skills that capital lawyers possess include:

  • Public policy research, development, and analysis skills;
  • Appreciation for the various policy-making venues so that a proper determination can be made as to which venue or venues provide the best chances for client success;
  • Verbal and written advocacy and negotiation skills in different policy-making venues; and
  • Knowledge about multiple areas of law and public policy issues that are unique to government and the public sector

A well prepared Capital lawyer will be able to work within the different and rather unique policy-making venues at the local, state, and federal levels.

What are some examples of Capital Lawyering careers? In the California Legislature examples include: committee consultants, staff to the legislative leaders and individual legislators, and staff to party caucuses or other legislative support agencies such as the Office of Legislative Counsel.

In the executive branch, a capital lawyer could work for the Governor in legal affairs, legislative affairs or appointments. Or they could work in one of California’s more than 200 state agencies with rulemaking authority as an attorney, advocate, administrative law judge – ALJ – or enforcement officer.

There are also opportunities for capital lawyers with non-profits and businesses in the private sector that seek to influence policy on both legislative and regulatory matters.

This is just a sampling of the skills a capital lawyer has and the opportunities for capital lawyers in a capital city, like Sacramento. Next week, we’ll start diving in to how the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers and prepares them for success.


Goldilocks Testimony

AB 1784, having cleared it’s first hurdle – policy committee – moved on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Keri and Michelle had been told that their bill was destined for the Suspense File and that they wouldn’t need to testify. That all changed the day before, and after a flurry of text messages Keri and Michelle found themselves pulling together testimony for Appropriations.

The tricky part of testifying in Appropriations is finding the right balance. Appropriations is a fiscal committee. You need to talk about the fiscal impact of your bill. But you also need to talk about the policy in the bill, just don’t talk about policy too much – just enough to provide proper context. And you need to do that in two minutes or less. You have to find that Goldilocks balance with your testimony.

Their testimony went as well as it could go. AB 1784 is still on Suspense, but that’s the nature of having a bill that costs over $150,000. And because they have a bill that costs a decent chunk of change – $4.75 million to be precise – Keri and Michelle launched a parallel effort to line up the funding for their bill through the budget process.

Fun fact about that – when you’re going through the budget process to get funding for a bill you cannot talk about the bill you’re trying to get funding for. You can essentially copy/paste your bill language into the budget request, you just can’t name the bill. So AB 1774 becomes foster care pilot program.

That request has led to two more hearings that Michelle and Keri have had to navigate, Budget Subcommittee hearings in both houses of the Legislature. They’ve completed both of those hearings and we’ll pick back up next week with the latest developments surrounding AB 1784.

On this week’s episode of The CAP·impact Podcast we talk with four legal experts about the shooting of Stephon Clark and the issues that have risen to the surface since that fateful night. Our experts are: former Deputy District Attorney – and McGeorge alumna – Alana Mathews; criminal defense attorney – and McGeorge alumnus – Keith Staten; civil right and criminal defense attorney Justin Ward; and Dr. Obed Magny, and founding member of the American Society of Evidence Based Policing (ASEBP) and an officer with Sacramento PD in the Professional Standards Unit, Dr. Obed Magny. NOTE: Dr. Magny is only speaking in his capacity as a member of ASEBP.

The impact of Stephon Clark’s death on the community is not to be understated. Sacramento made national news with the response of the police force during and after the shooting. It’s an issue that strikes very close to home for the panelists – both on emotional and geographic levels. We talked through various conflicting views about the videos released by the police, the possible future actions through legislation, and if awareness and activism surrounding police shootings can lead to future change in the relationship between law enforcement officials and the communities that they are sworn to protect.

If you want to learn more about the work that our panelists are currently engaged in, you can visit the following pages for:

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. As always, you can find the show on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher Radio. If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a 5-star review on iTunes and Apple Podcasts while you’re there. Doing so will help other people find The CAP·impact Podcast more easily.

The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday announced another round of layoffs in its newsroom. 15 more journalists are being cut, including Ed Fletcher who announced his layoff on a Facebook Live Feed.

“It’s a big hit. It’s a sad day for the news industry,” Fletcher said. “If you haven’t been paying attention, it’s a bad time for the news industry.”

The Sacramento Bee states “[t]he object of this newspaper is not only independence, but permanence.” With the changing times, local newspapers such as The Bee have been struggling against the alleged fake news circling the internet. Mistrust directed towards journalists is a fatal flaw that leaves news companies struggling to maintain readers and support.

Having journalists is key to promoting independent reporting of national and international news. It is even encoded into our 1st Amendment rights to have freedom of the press to report.

The Annual Mike Belote Endowed Capital Lecture held earlier this year addressed these struggles and the importance of independent journalists in our current political atmosphere. If you haven’t already seen it, please enjoy the timely expert panel.




Possible Reforms to California’s Legislative Process

Today’s podcast is looking at some possible reforms to California’s legislative process.

Capitol observers often complain about a number of procedural aspects of California’s lawmaking process. So, what I did was undertook a very informal poll by asking a number of my lobbying colleagues, as well as staff in the Legislature from both sides of the aisle and in both the Senate and the Assembly, and asked them for suggestions on how to make the process operate better, or more efficiently.

By far the most common criticisms that were lodged by both lobbyists and staff focused on the state budget process. The second most common one was how legislative committees operate.

The most commonly cited reform would be to require the Budget Conference Committee to follow the general rule of all conference committees which is that a bill or issue cannot be considered in the budget as part of a budget trailer bill unless that subject matter has been heard and approved in the policy committee that has jurisdiction over the subject matter in both houses of the Legislature. In other words, budget trailer bills should have to be heard and voted upon in policy committees in addition to being passed by the relevant budget subcommittees.

A number of capitol observers were also surprised by how many state agency department budgets are actually placed on the consent calendar on a budget subcommittee’s agenda, which means that the department’s budget gets lumped in with a number of other items that are resolved with a single vote and never actually even heard or considered.

When it comes to legislative committees, the most common reforms mentioned relate to the so-called two-and-two rule. Currently, the rule means that a committee limits two proponents and two opponents to speak as a matter of substance on a bill which, of course, reduces the amount of substantive testimony that can be provided by legislative committees. Most observers that I informally surveyed suggested eliminating the rule. Most of the folks I surveyed said that substantive testimony should not generally be limited by the policy committees, particularly when a bill is in its house of origin in its first policy committee hearing, as opposed to when it’s in the other house.

I cover more proposed reforms in the full audio. I hope you enjoy.




Helping Your Client’s Case by Changing the Law

Today’s  podcast  is  on  helping  your  client’s  legal  problem  by changing  the  law.

Any  lawyer  can  apply  the  facts  of  his  or  her  case  to  the  law  as  it  exists  today,  but  a  really  good  lawyer  is  one  who  would  look  closely  at  changing  the  law  to  benefit  his  or  her  client’s  legal  position.

What should you do as a lawyer for your client?  I  think  a  lawyer  should  complete  a  policy  analysis  of  any  issue  facing  his  or  her  client  and  potential  changes  to  the  law  that  could  be  made,  either  statutory  or  regulatory,  that  would  benefit  his  or  her  client.

Lawyers  need  to  have  a  firm  understanding  of  the  area  of  the  law  and  what  has  led  to  the  current  statutory  or  regulatory  issue,  and  what  are  the  pros  and  the  cons  of  a  particular  approach  to  changing  that  statute  or  regulation?  Look  at  using  a  lobbyist  to  help  change  the  law,  or  the  lawyer  himself  or  herself  could  make  that  similar  attempt.

An  effective  lobbyist  will  understand  the  politics  and  policy  regarding  a  particular  subject  matter  and  has  the  ability  to  make  statutory  or  regulatory  changes.  Then,  just  like  a  lawyer,  a  lobbyist  advocates  for  his  or  her  client’s  position  with  those  responsive  decision-makers.

Basically,  a  well-rounded  lawyer  will  appreciate  that  solving  his  or  her  client’s  legal  problem  can  sometimes  be  accomplished  by  actually  changing  the  law  in  those  cases  where  the  law  may  not  be  favorable  to  a  potential  client  outcome  or  position.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast!

One Committee Down, Many More to Go

Keri and Michelle are back, and (SPOILER ALERT!) their bill, AB 1784, cleared its first major hurdle, the Assembly Committee on Human Services – and on a unanimous, 7-0 vote, no less.

The hearing was the culmination all the prep work that Michelle and Keri talked about last week. But, despite all that prep work and positive feedback, the day was not without its stresses. Assembly Human Services was the first make or break moment for the bill. Coupling that with the fact that AB 1784’s fate was ultimately in the hands of the committee members and not in the control of Michelle and Keri, it’s understandable that they’d have a case of nerves.

But, it’s worth highlighting here that Keri and Michelle made a very smart decision in their planning for the Committee hearing by having Jen Rexroad, The Executive Director of the California Alliance of Caregivers, be one of the three people – the other two being Michelle and Assembly Member Maienschein – delivering testimony to the committee. When you’re working on a bill, it’s never easy to say, ‘I’m not the best voice for this right now,’ but Keri and Michelle clearly made the right strategic call by having someone who can speak for resource families up there to compliment Michelle – with her background in social work – and Assembly Member Maienschein.

And now, with Assembly Human Services in the rear view mirror, the next test is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As Keri and Michelle note, the bill is destined for the Suspense File. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any drama or aren’t some very interesting developments. But we’ll leave those developments for next week’s episode.

On this week’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we talk with John Finley, who is with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault – or CALCASA for short – about their recent report – The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California. The report is a very interesting, and sobering, read about the sheer amount of sexual violence that’s occurred in California and what the financial impact of that violence is for California taxpayers. The other topic John and I discuss is the joint effort that CALCASA is engaged in with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

CALCASA and The Partnership are working together to get a funding increase from California’s state budget that would allow crisis centers across California to put more preventative policies and measures into action. These new preventative programs would be in addition to the emergency services that they already provide. If that team up of two coalitions sounds like a lobbying coalition to you, you probably read Chris Micheli’s piece earlier this week on utilizing successful lobbying coalitions, which is also featured in today’s episode.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. As always, you can find the show on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher Radio. If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a 5-star review on iTunes and Apple Podcasts while you’re there. Doing so will help other people find The CAP⋅impact Podcast more easily.

And again, if you want to find the report by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault that John and I discussed – The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California – you can find the full report here.




Compromise and Gridlock

Today’s post is on compromise and gridlock in the California legislative process. Gridlock and compromise are often inherent aspects of any law making process, and California’s Legislature is no exception.

The problem is that the usual approach to law making, often involving alignment from political parties to advance their particular position, all too often leads to no results, or questionable results, or even contested results. The political parties fight, and legislation doesn’t pass, or the parties fight, and the resulting legislation does little to advance a solution, or it contains significant flaws, or the losing parties continue to attack or try to undermine or overturn the legislation that was adopted.

While gridlock is caused by the way we’ve traditionally practiced policy making, it’s also the result of some vote requirements. For example, California has different types of bills that require a two-thirds supermajority of the legislature.

Under normal circumstances, the domination of political parties and specific interest groups make compromise too difficult to achieve when it comes to certain high profile controversial legislation, and every two years, election year politics aimed at creating stark differences between the political parties often also makes compromise more difficult.

Some of us believe that in order to overcome gridlock, at least three critical conditions must occur –  a committed and capable group of leaders who want to do things differently, a change in the mindset and the process in the way proposals are put together, and a focus on the long term best interests of the people in the state of California.

Also, there’s an alternative method of compromise, which is accompanied by the use of a win win negotiating process, which often leads to a more durable public policy determination.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and learn about gridlock and compromise in the California legislature.