BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                           Senator Ellen M. Corbett, Chair
                              2009-2010 Regular Session


          AB 2674 (Block)
          As Introduced
          Hearing Date: June 10, 2010
          Fiscal: No
          Urgency: No
          KB:jd
                    

                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                           Family Law:  Exemplary Damages

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would provide that, when a spouse is convicted of  
          soliciting the murder of another spouse, the injured spouse  
          shall be entitled to an award of 100 percent of the community  
          property interest in the retirement and pension benefits, and a  
          prohibition of any awards for spousal support or medical, life,  
          or other insurance benefits or payments from the injured spouse  
          to the convicted spouse.  

                                      BACKGROUND  

          Under current law, when a spouse is convicted of attempting to  
          murder the other spouse, the injured spouse is entitled to 100  
          percent of the community property interest in the retirement and  
          pension benefits, and a prohibition of any awards for spousal  
          support or medical, life, or other insurance benefits or  
          payments from the injured spouse to the convicted spouse.   
          However, current law is silent as to whether these remedies  
          apply when a spouse is convicted of soliciting the murder of the  
          other spouse.  This bill seeks to address this apparent gap in  
          current law, which was brought to the author's attention by a  
          constituent.  

          In background materials provided to the committee, the  
          constituent (a police detective) notes that his former wife  
          repeatedly solicited his murder following her unfortunate  
          descent into drug addiction.  She was subsequently convicted of  
          solicitation to commit murder, and sent to prison.  In the  
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          divorce proceedings that followed, the family court found that,  
          because the detective's spouse did not personally attempt his  
          murder, but instead solicited his murder, the spouse was  
          entitled to one-half the community property of the marriage,  
          including the detective's retirement benefits and insurance  
          benefits from life insurance policies.

          The court found this despite the Legislature's enactment of  
          pertinent family law legislation over 15 years ago, in the form  
          of AB 16 (Rainey, Chapter 364, Statutes of 1995), which  
          prohibited a spouse convicted of attempting to murder the other  
          spouse him or herself from benefiting in any way from his or her  
          prior act.  This measure will provide that the provisions in  
          current law intending to prohibit a spouse convicted of  
          attempted murder of the other spouse from benefiting from that  
          act also apply in instances where a spouse solicits the murder  
          of another spouse.  
                                           
                               CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  provides that, in addition to any other remedy  
          authorized by law, when a spouse is convicted of attempting to  
          murder the other spouse, as specified, the injured spouse shall  
          be entitled to 100 percent of the community property interest in  
          his or her retirement and pension benefits, and a prohibition of  
          specified support or insurance benefits from the injured spouse  
          to the other spouse.  Existing law defines injured spouse as the  
          spouse who has been the subject of the attempted murder for  
          which the other spouse was convicted, whether or not actual  
          physical injury occurred.  Existing law also authorizes a court  
          to award attorney's fees and costs in the form of a sanction in  
          these cases.  (Fam. Code Secs. 782.5, 4324.)

           This bill  would expand these provisions to also apply when a  
          spouse is convicted of soliciting the murder of the other  
          spouse.

                                        COMMENT
           
              1.   Stated need for the bill

           The author states:
           
             When a husband or wife is convicted of solicitation for murder  
            of their spouse, current law does not prohibit the convicted  
            spouse of attempting to reap financial benefits, such as  
                                                                      



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            community property in retirement and pension benefits, from  
            their injured spouse.  

            AB 2674 protects the victim by eliminating access the  
            convicted partner may have to victim's benefits and property  
            rights and ceases all financial support or insurance coverage  
            the convicted spouse was receiving.
           
             2.   Bill would correct apparent gap in current law
           
          AB 16 (Rainey, Chapter 364, Statutes of 1995) established  
          specified remedies in existing law for when a spouse is  
          convicted of attempting to murder another spouse.  In these  
          circumstances, the injured spouse is entitled to 100 percent of  
          the community property interest in his or her retirement and  
          pension benefits. 

          According to committee analyses of AB 16, the author was  
          attempting to provide a mechanism whereby a spouse who was the  
          victim of an attempted murder by the other spouse, would not be  
          subjected to the emotional and financial trauma of having to  
          make payments on spousal support, medical or life insurance  
          benefits, or retirement benefits to the convicted spouse.  The  
          fact patterns outlined in the legislative history indicate that  
          AB 16 was also intended to apply to the solicitation of murder.   
          For example, committee analyses recount an incident where a  
          Hayward man's wife entered into a conspiracy with two other  
          persons to attempt his murder.  The Hayward man apparently  
          stopped to assist a person who he thought was a stranded  
          motorist, and was shot three to four times, twice in the head.   
          He managed to save his life by driving to the San Leandro police  
          station before fainting.  

          The wife was convicted and imprisoned for eight years for the  
          attempted murder.  In the subsequent dissolution proceeding, the  
          wife nevertheless received her one-half share of the community  
          property.  The fact pattern that is the impetus for AB 2674  
          bears striking similarities to those that gave rise to AB 16.  

          Public policy is arguably best served by ensuring that  
          individuals who are convicted of soliciting their spouse's  
          murder are treated the same with respect to the apportionment of  
          community property and benefits as those who are convicted of  
          attempting to commit the murder themselves.  


                                                                      



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           Support  :  None Known

           Opposition  :  None Known

                                        HISTORY
           
           Source  :  Author

           Related Pending Legislation :  None Known

           Prior Legislation  :  See Background.

           Prior Vote  :

          Assembly Judiciary Committee (Ayes 9, Noes 0)
          Assembly Floor (Ayes 71, Noes 0)

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