BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  AB 2116|
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                                    CONSENT


          Bill No:  AB 2116
          Author:   Evans (D)
          Amended:  6/29/10 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  5-0, 6/10/10
          AYES:  Corbett, Harman, Hancock, Leno, Walters
           
          SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8
           
          ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  74-0, 5/6/10 (Consent) - See last page for  
            vote


           SUBJECT  :    Subordinate judicial officers:  gifts and  
          honoraria:  
                      enforcement

           SOURCE  :     California Judges Association


           DIGEST  :    This bill extends existing gift limitations and  
          honoraria restrictions currently applicable to superior  
          court judges and justices of the courts of appeal and the  
          Supreme Court to also apply to subordinate judicial  
          officers. 

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law authorizes the Legislature to  
          provide that a court may appoint officers such as  
          commissioners to perform subordinate judicial duties.   
          (Section 22 of Article VI of the California Constitution)

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                                                               AB 2116
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          Existing law defines subordinate judicial officer as an  
          officer appointed to perform subordinate judicial duties as  
          authorized by the California Constitution, including, but  
          not limited to, a court commissioner, probate commissioner,  
          referee, traffic referee, and juvenile referee.  (Section  
          71601(i) of the Government Code)

          Existing law provides that no judge shall accept gifts from  
          any single source in any calendar year with a total value  
          of more than $250.  This prohibition does not apply to (1)  
          payments or reimbursements for travel and related lodging,  
          as specified, (2) wedding, birthday, or holiday gifts  
          exchanged between individuals, or (3) gifts from any person  
          whose preexisting relationship with a judge would prevent  
          that judge from hearing a case involving that person.   
          (Section 170.9(a)(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure [CCP])

          Existing law prohibits a judge from accepting an  
          honorarium, which is defined to mean a "payment made in  
          consideration for any speech given, article published, or  
          attendance at any public or private conference, convention,  
          meeting, social event, meal, or like gathering." (CCP  
          Section 170.9(g)(h))  "Honorarium" does not include income  
          earned for personal services customarily provided in  
          connection with the practice of a bona fide business,  
          trade, or profession such as teaching or writing, and it  
          does not include fees or other things of value received for  
          performance of a marriage. (CCP Section 170.9(i))

          Existing law defines "judge" for purposes of the above gift  
          and honoraria limitations as a judge of the superior court  
          and justices of the courts of appeal or the Supreme Court.   
          (CCP Section 170.9(c))

          This bill revises the definition of "judge" to also include  
          subordinate judicial officers, as defined in Section 71601  
          of the Government Code.

          This bill requires the Commission on Judicial Performance  
          to enforce the prohibitions of this section with regard to  
          judges of the superior courts and justices of the courts of  
          appeal and the Supreme Court.  With regard to subordinate  
          judicial officers, consistent with Section 18.1 of Article  
          VI the California Constitution, the court employing the  

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          subordinate judicial officer shall exercise initial  
          jurisdiction to enforce the prohibitions of this bill and  
          the Commission on Judicial Performance shall exercise  
          discretionary jurisdiction with respect to the enforcement  
          of the prohibitions of this section.
          
           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/2/10)

          California Judges Association (source)
          Judicial Council of California


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author writes:  "Recognizing  
          the need to prevent actual and the appearance of improper  
          influence or bias in the courts, AB 2116 would extend the  
          scope of existing judicial gift limits to subordinate  
          judicial officers, including court commissioners, probate  
          commissioners, referees, traffic referees, and juvenile  
          referees.  The question posed by existing law is whether  
          the gift limitations that seek to eliminate actual and the  
          appearance of bias in the courtroom, but are currently only  
          applicable to specified judicial officers, should be  
          extended to subordinate judicial officers."

          The California Judges Association, the bill's sponsor,  
          writes that "[t]here is no policy reason why [subordinate  
          judicial officers], in many cases performing the same  
          function as Superior Court judges, should not be subject to  
          the same gift rules as judges."  The Judicial Council  
          writes in support that, "[w]hile subordinate judicial  
          officers are employees of the court and not elected  
          officials, for this purpose their role is indistinct from  
          that of judges and they owe the same accountability to the  
          public."
          

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  : 
          AYES:  Adams, Ammiano, Anderson, Arambula, Beall, Bill  
            Berryhill, Tom Berryhill, Blakeslee, Blumenfield,  
            Bradford, Brownley, Buchanan, Caballero, Charles  
            Calderon, Carter, Chesbro, Conway, Cook, Coto, Davis, De  

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                                                               AB 2116
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            Leon, DeVore, Emmerson, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Fletcher,  
            Fong, Fuentes, Fuller, Furutani, Gaines, Galgiani,  
            Garrick, Hagman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Hernandez, Hill,  
            Huber, Huffman, Jeffries, Jones, Knight, Lieu, Logue,  
            Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma, Miller, Monning, Nava, Nestande,  
            Niello, Nielsen, Norby, V. Manuel Perez, Portantino,  
            Ruskin, Salas, Saldana, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio,  
            Audra Strickland, Swanson, Torlakson, Torres, Torrico,  
            Tran, Villines, Yamada, John A. Perez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Bass, Block, De La Torre, Gilmore,  
            Mendoza, Vacancy


          RJG:mw  8/2/10   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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