On today’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we’ll be exploring a bill that’s been mentioned in a few previous episodes and still working it’s way through the California Legislature, AB 931. The bill would change the use of force standard in California from reasonable to necessary. To help explain the bill itself and what that change would mean in practical terms, we talked to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Shirley Weber.

This is the conclusion of a trio of podcasts we’ve done in response to the shooting of Stephon Clark here in Sacramento. Those episodes were “Protests and the Push for Independent Investigations” with Assembly Member Kevin McCarty talking about his push in the California Legislature for indpendent investigations of instances of use of deadly force, and “Moving The Needle on Police On Black Violence” which featured four lawyers who are members of the Wiley Manuel Bar Association talking about how the shooting of Stephon Clark has affected them and their thoughts on what the community can do going forward to heal the wounds and find solutions.

On legislation like AB 931, that is, legislation that would make a noticeable impact on how folks go about doing their job on a day to day basis, it’s to be expected that the affected groups – both directly affected and indirectly affected – are going to try to influence the shape and outcome of that legislation. That is certainly the case here with AB 931 with the law enforcement community and community groups both showing up to have their voices heard. And to explain how groups influence legislation, and which pressure points they consider to influence legislation, we talk to veteran lobbyist and adjunct professor in McGeorge School of Law’s Capital Lawyering program, Chris Micheli.

As always, if you like the show, please click “SUBSCRIBE” on iTunes or Apple Podcasts, and while you’re there, please leave the show a 5 star rating. You can also let us know what you think of the show on Facebook or Twitter. And feel free to like and/or follow us while you’re there as well.




The Governor’s Role in the Legislative Process (transcript)

Today’s podcast is a look at the governor’s role in the legislative process.

As you well imagine, California’s Governor is a key player in the legislative process, even though the bulk of legislation is done by the elected members of the Legislature in the Assembly and the State Senate. It’s important to appreciate the various roles that the state’s chief executive plays in the legislative process.

In a quick look at the administration and the legislative process, we know that the Governor of California has a significant impact – both with regard to specific legislation as well as the budget and funding priorities of the state.

As such, it’s critical that interested parties work with the administration throughout the legislative process, which includes the members of the Governor’s office, the Department of Finance and relevant state departments and agencies. Some of the other commonly known roles the Governor has include identifying issues for the legislature to address. He or she has the authority to call the California Legislature into extraordinary or special session. And, of course, he or she has the final say, absent a veto override, over individual bills.

Because of the Governor’s multiple roles in the legislative process, he or she can lead and influence public policy development, as well as often set the major legislative agenda items for the legislative session.

I hope you will enjoy this opportunity to look at some of the roles of the Governor, with particular attention to the chief executive’s role in the legislative process. Remember that the Governor has many tools and powers to control and influence legislation in California. As a result he or she plays a prominent role in any lawmaking by the California Legislature.




Intro to Capital Lawyering – Part 2 (transcript)

Today’s post is part two on the Introduction to Capital Lawyering course – to be called Capital Lawyering and Policy Making going forward – that is offered at McGeorge School of Law. You can find my first post on the Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course here.

McGeorge’s Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course is taught by adjunct professor Tom Nussbaum, who is a former Chancellor of the California Community College system. He also authored the course reader.

According to Professor Nussbaum, policy analysis is the rubric for problem solving that is typically applied in policy making settings, like the California Legislature. As such, the first three class sessions revolve around various policy analysis methodologies and applying policy analysis to real world issues.

The course also serves to introduce students to the various venues for lawyering in the government, with a particular focus on California state government. Of the fourteen class sessions that comprise this course, half of them focus on lawyering at the three levels of government. Four of those courses focus on California state government, two classes focus on lawyering at the federal government level, and one is dedicated to local government.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, the purpose of the course is to provide students with exposure to capital lawyering in general while educating them about the levels of government so that students understand that government may provide an avenue to resolve a client’s legal problem beyond traditional litigation of alternative dispute resolution. Students will take away from this course the knowledge that changing the law may be the best approach to solving a legal issue rather than litigating it.

In next week’s post, as part of this larger series on how the Capital Center for Law & Policy trains capital lawyers, I’ll start walking you through McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course, which I co-teach with Legislative Counsel Dianne Boyer-Vine.

The Clinic – Episode 8: The Staff/Sponsor Relationship (transcript)

Today we have a very special episode of The Clinic.  In  addition  to  Keri  and  Michelle,  we’ve  got  the  legislative  staffer  who  they’ve  been  working with very  closely,  Carli  Olson,  in  Assembly Member  Maienschein’s office  joining  us. The conversation focuses less on AB 1784 and the legislative process and more on the relationship between the legislative staffer and bill sponsors.

Keri, Michelle, and Carli give insights into their relationship and communication strategies in order to ensure their bill’s success. Carli also tells us what she looks for in a bill sponsor such as willingness to adjust bill language, successful interpersonal relationships, and level of commitment to the bill passage.

One of the main obstacles in the staff/sponsor relationship can be managing amendments to the bill. Luckily, Keri, Michelle, and Carli have demonstrated an effective way to avoid tension and disagreement through maintaining open communication and respect. Keri and Michelle also explain that when they propose amendments and they are denied, they trust in the expertise of the legislative staff and the Assembly Member. The same is also in the reverse, Carli states that while she has done research on the subject, Keri and Michelle are experts and can provide insight to any questions Carli or Assembly Member Maienschein have.

Once again, a special thank you to Carli Olson for her candor and an insight into how she works with bill sponsors.

The Clinic is going to be taking a break for the next few weeks. As you remember, AB 1784 is currently sitting in the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s Suspense File. The deadline to move those bills isn’t until May 25, so we likely won’t see any action on the bill until after that date. We’ll be back with you as soon as there’s some movement.

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode!

In today’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we are talking about California’s foster care system and. In particular, we’ll be talking about AB 1784 – authored by Assembly Member Brian Maienschein (R – San Diego) which is one bill working its way through the California Legislature aimed at improving the system. To get more information on what’s in the bill and what it will do, we’ve brought Carli Olson on to this week’s episode. Carli is a Legislative Aide in Asm. Maienschein’s office and she is the staffer who is taking the lead on AB 1784.

The other people you’ll hear in today’s episode will sound familiar if you’ve been following our series The Clinic. That’s because we’re talking to Keri Firth and Michelle Evans, both of whom are McGeorge students who are participating in the school’s Legislative and Public Policy Clinic. We explore in much more depth what that clinic is in The Clinic, but to give you a quick summary of it, the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic gives McGeorge students the opportunity to experience the legislative process first-hand. Students come up with an idea for a bill and from there, they lobby that bill from start to finish through the California Legislature.

This is an exciting episode because it gives us a chance to highlight the great work Keri and Michelle are doing for a new audience.

As I promised in the episode, there are two places you can find the entirety of this series we’re doing with Keri and Michelle and they navigate AB 1784 through the California Legislature. Again, those spots are our page for The Clinic here on CAP⋅impact. The other place you can find all the episodes of The Clinic on our Soundcloud page.

As always, if you enjoy The CAP⋅impact Podcast, there are a couple of free and easy things you can do to help us out. Please subscribe to the show on iTunes or Apple Podcasts, and while you’re there, please leave us a five star rating and a review.




Intro to Capital Lawyering – Part 1 (transcript)

Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post about the role of the capital lawyer. As I mentioned last week, I’ll be explaining how the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers. Today’s podcast is the first of five that will give an overview of how McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers.

The podcast today is part one of going over the Introduction to Capital Lawyering course. Part two will be next week’s podcast. This is the one mandatory course in the Capital Lawyering concentration. I should also note that starting in fall 2018, the name of this course will be different. The new name for the course going forward is “Capital Lawyering and Policy Making.”

The course is geared to give students the proverbial 30,000 foot view of the three levels of government, as well as the three branches of government – with a particular emphasis on California state government. The overall objective of the course is to ensure that students are informed and aware of the different avenues available to address a client’s legal issue.

Specifically, the learning objectives of the course are to introduce and acquaint students with the fundamental knowledge and skills that are essential to lawyering with California state government and with government in general; ensure that students will be able to perform policy analysis using a variety of methodologies; ensure students will be able to weigh and consider particular venues to pursue a policy change and they’ll be able to determine which venue provides the greatest opportunity for client success. The course also serves to provide students with an understanding of the many career options available to capital lawyers in and around California state government, which I go into greater detail on in the podcast. These are just a few of objectives, but there are many more.

Next week we’ll dive into the syllabus and more of the specifics of the Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course.

The Personalities of Committees

On today’s episode of The Clinic Keri and Michelle discuss their experience navigating budget subcommittee hearings in the Assembly and Senate. What stood out most to Michelle was how the two different subcommittees felt like they had different personalities.

That’s largely a result of the Committee Chairs running those committees, but an interesting observation. The primary different between the two committees was how the respective Chairs wanted to receive testimony. In one, the Chair was more lax with enforcement of the generally accepted two-minute rule for testimony and wanted to hear people’s personal stories to add context to their budget asks. In the other committee, the Chair was much more strict with the two-minute rule, and wanted to be impressed with the facts.

All in all, things seemingly went well in those subcommittees, and Keri and Michelle came out of those hearings with a further refined approach to their budget ask. We talk about that change in greater detail in the podcast.

We also revisit our earlier conversation about stakeholders and supporters of AB 1784. That list of groups is growing, which is good news for Keri and Michelle, but that was not always the case. There was a period of time where it seemed momentum was stalling around their bill. In the podcast we talk about some of the approaches that Michelle and Keri considered at the time – and are still considering – inject new energy into the bill.

Like I said, the list of supporters is growing, so the need to actively try to inject more energy is on hold for the time being. And as Michelle and Keri prepare for finals and the Bar Exam, it’s probably for the best that they sit back (a little bit) and react to requests rather than take the usual hyper-proactive approach that they’ve going with so far.

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.