BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2394
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   May 12, 2010

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                  AB 2394 (Brownley) - As Amended:  April 28, 2010 

          Policy Committee:                               
          JudiciaryVote:10-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:  Yes

           SUMMARY  

          This bill, the Levying Officer Electronic Transaction Act,  
          establishes procedures for sheriffs and marshals to transmit,  
          receive, and maintain electronically certain records and  
          documents related to civil law enforcement.  Specifically, this  
          bill:

          1)Stipulates that nothing in this Act shall be construed to  
            require a court or levying officer to comply with any of its  
            provisions unless the court and the levying officer have (a)  
            jointly determined that both the court and the sheriff's  
            department have the resources and the technological capacity  
            to do so, and (b) have mutually agreed to electronically  
            process documents as provided in the Act. 

          2)Permits a levying officer to create, store, print or transmit  
            an electronic record, including an "email" message in the  
            place of, and in the same manner as, the paper record or  
            document upon which the electronic record is based.

          3)Provides that in lieu of returning the paper version of an  
            original writ of execution to a court, the levying officer may  
            retain the original writ, or an electronic copy of the  
            original writ, and electronically file with the court only a  
            return reporting the levying officer's actions, amounts  
            collected, and costs incurred.

          4)Provides that, with respect to deeds and conveyances that the  
            sheriff must execute and deliver to the purchaser of real  
            estate sold by the sheriff under authority of law, the deeds  
            and conveyances may be recorded electronically pursuant to  








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            this Act.

          5)Requires the levying officer to exclude or redact identifying  
            information, including SSN and financial account numbers, from  
            any electronic record or document made available to the  
            public, as well as any writ return filed with the court.

          6)Requires a levying officer, at least once every two years, to  
            file an accounting with the court for all amounts collected  
            under an earnings withholding order (EWO), including costs and  
            interest, and authorizes the levying officer to file the  
            accounting with the court by electronic means.

          7)Authorizes the sheriff to serve an EWO, if not by personal  
            delivery, then by first class mail, postage prepaid (instead  
            of via registered or certified mail.), and provides that when  
            service is made by mail, service is complete at the time of  
            receipt of the EWO as indicated in the form returned by the  
            employer, or the date of mailing if the date of receipt is not  
            indicated on the employer's returned form.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Any costs to courts would presumably be absorbable, as courts  
            are able to "opt in" to the bill's provisions upon determining  
            they have sufficient resources and technological capability.   
            The courts could realize significant long-term savings to the  
            extent that more documents from the levying officers are  
            transmitted to the courts electronically.

          2)As with the courts, sheriff's departments will realize  
            significant savings.  The Los Angeles County Sheriff's  
            Department conservatively estimates annual savings of $1  
            million to $1.5 million.

           COMMENTS  

           Purpose .  This bill, sponsored by the Los Angeles County  
          Sheriff's Department, represents a first step to adapt the Code  
          of Civil Procedure to modern information technology and promote  
          systemic migration away from a paper-based model of civil law  
          enforcement.  The author and sponsor believe that there are  
          significant time and cost savings associated with increased use  
          of electronic records and documents, and that AB 2394 will  
          increase the efficiency of the Sheriff's Office by saving  








                                                                  AB 2394
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          countless trips to the courthouse or the county recorder's  
          office to transport original paper versions of documents that  
          may otherwise be transmitted by fax or email. At the request of  
          the Judicial Council, the bill provides that there are no  
          compliance requirements unless the court and the levying officer  
          agrees: (a) that both the court and the sheriff's department  
          have the resources and the technological capacity to do so; and  
          (b) to electronically process documents as provided in the Act. 


          As an example of the potential savings provided by this bill,  
          many sheriff offices are six months to three years behind in  
          filing writ returns with the court. The California State  
          Sheriff's Association explains, "The reason for the backlog of  
          returns is the time it takes to physically locate and associate  
          the "original writ" with the "writ return" prior to a court  
          visit. Simply put, it takes staff time and effort to locate the  
          physical file, pull the writ from the file, associate the writ  
          with the return, and return the file to the shelf. When the  
          Sheriff has multiple offices, the physical files may be at an  
          off-site location, causing a further delay?Eliminating the need  
          for the "original writ" to accompany the writ return to court  
          frees the Sheriff from a time-consuming and cumbersome task,  
          thereby allowing a quicker return. The writ return (not the  
          writ) serves to alert the court that the writ is no longer in  
          play. The courts are already familiar with the writ return  
          document. Filing a writ return with the court becomes a "push  
          button" process (via fax or email) that can be accomplished by  
          any Sheriff's staff in any location, regardless of where the  
          physical file is located. Everyone benefits." 


          As a second cost-saving example, this bill allows the sheriff to  
          serve EWOs by first class mail rather than by certified mail.  
          According to the sponsor, it typically costs $5.88 to serve an  
          EWO by certified mail, of which $2.20 is charged by the Post  
          Office for return receipt service. By contrast, it typically  
          costs just $0.73 to send the same EWO materials by first class  
          mail.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081