BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   AB 141|
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                                    CONSENT


          Bill No:  AB 141
          Author:   Fuentes (D)
          Amended:  As introduced
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  6-0, 6/7/11
          AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Harman, Liu, Price, Steinberg
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Calderon

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  4-0, 6/21/11
          AYES:  Evans, Blakeslee, Corbett, Leno
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Harman

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  60-0, 4/14/11 (Consent) - See last page 
            for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Jurors:  electronic communications

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST  :    This bill (1) adds to existing jury 
          admonishments the duty not to conduct research or 
          disseminate information and also requires the court to 
          clearly explain, as part of that admonishment, that the 
          prohibition on research, dissemination of information, and 
          conversation applies to all forms of electronic or wireless 
          communication, (2) clarifies that existing prohibitions of 
          communications between the officer having the jury under 
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          his charge and members of that jury includes electronic or 
          wireless communications, and (3) makes the willful 
          disobedience by a juror of a court admonishment related to 
          the prohibition of any form of communication or research 
          about the case, including all forms of electronic or 
          wireless communication or research, a contempt of court and 
          a misdemeanor.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law guarantees a criminal defendant's 
          right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of 
          the state and district wherein the crime shall have been 
          committed, and to be informed of the nature and cause of 
          the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against 
          him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in 
          his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his 
          defense.  (United States Constitution, Sixth  Amendment, as 
          applied to the states through the 14th Amendment's Due 
          Process Clause; See  Apodaca v. Oregon  (1972) 406 U.S. 404.)
            
          Existing law requires that if the jury is permitted to 
          separate, either during the trial or after the case is 
          submitted to them, the court must admonish the jurors that 
          it is their duty not to converse with, or allow themselves 
          to be addressed by any other person, on any subject of the 
          trial, and that it is their duty not to form or express an 
          opinion thereon until the case is finally submitted to 
          them.  (Code of Civil Procedure Section 611)

          Existing law provides that when the case is finally 
          submitted to the jury, they may decide in court or retire 
          for deliberation.  If they retire, they must be kept 
          together, in some convenient place, until at least 
          three-fourths of them agree upon a verdict or are 
          discharged by the court.  Existing law provides that unless 
          by order of the court, the officer having them under 
          his/her charge must not allow any communication to be made 
          to them, or make any himself/herself, except to ask them if 
          they or three-fourths of them are agreed upon a verdict, 
          and he or she must not, before their verdict is rendered, 
          communicate to any person the state of their deliberations, 
          or verdict agreed upon.  (Code of Civil Procedure Section 
          613.)  Penal Code Section 1128 contains substantially 
          similar requirements, and further provides that the court 
          shall fix the time and place for deliberation and that the 

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          jurors shall not deliberate on the case except under such 
          circumstances.  If the jurors are permitted by the court to 
          separate, the court shall properly admonish them.  (Penal 
          Code Section 1128)

          Existing law provides a list of acts or omissions in 
          respect to a court of justice, or proceedings therein, that 
          are contempts of court, including where a person is 
          summoned as a juror, neglects to attend or serve as such, 
          or improperly converses with a party to an action, to be 
          tried at such court, or with any other person, in relation 
          to the merits of such action, or receives a communication 
          from a party or other person in respect to it, without 
          immediately disclosing the same to the court.  (Code of 
          Civil Procedure Section 1209(a)(10)) 

          Existing law provides that any person guilty of specified 
          contempts of court is guilty of a misdemeanor, except as 
          otherwise provided.  (Penal Code Section 166(a))   

          Existing law provides that after the jury has been sworn or 
          before the people's opening address, the court shall 
          instruct the jury generally concerning its basic functions, 
          duties, and conduct.  The instructions shall include, among 
          other matters, admonitions that the jurors:

           Shall not converse among themselves or with anyone else 
            on any subject connected with the trial.

           Shall not read or listen to any accounts or discussions 
            of the case reported by newspapers or other news media.

           Shall not visit or view the premises or place where the 
            offense or offenses charged were allegedly committed or 
            any other premises or place involved in the case.

           Shall not, within 90 days of discharge, request, accept, 
            agree to accept, or discuss with any person receiving or 
            accepting any payment or benefit in consideration for 
            supplying any information concerning the trial.

           Shall promptly report to the court any incident within 
            their knowledge involving an attempt by any person to 
            improperly influence any member of the jury.  (Penal Code 

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            Section 1122(a))

          Existing law provides that at each adjournment of the court 
          before the submission of the cause to the jury, whether 
          permitted to separate or kept in the charge of officers, be 
          admonished by the court that it is their duty not to 
          converse among themselves, or with anyone else, on any 
          subject connected with the trial, or to form or express nay 
          opinion thereon until the cause is finally submitted to 
          them.  (Penal Code Section 1122(b))  

          This bill adds to existing admonitions that it is a jury's 
          duty not to conduct research or disseminate information.  

          This bill provides that, as part of the admonishment, the 
          court shall clearly explain that the prohibition on 
          research, dissemination of information, and conversation 
          applies to all forms of electronic and wireless 
          communications.  

          This bill clarifies that an officer's duty to not permit 
          any communication to be made to the jurors under his or her 
          charge, as well as the officer's duty not to communicate 
          with the jurors himself/herself, except to ask if 
          three-fourths of them are agreed upon the verdict, includes 
          any form of electronic or wireless communication. 

          This bill adds to the statutory list of contempts of the 
          court:  willful disobedience by a juror of a court 
          admonishment related to the prohibition of any form of 
          communication or research about the case, including all 
          forms of electronic or wireless communication or research.  


          This bill adds to the statutory list of contempts of court 
          that are misdemeanors:  willful disobedience by a juror of 
          a court admonishment related to the prohibition of any form 
          of communication or research about the case, including all 
          forms of electronic or wireless communication or research.  


          This bill amends a court instruction currently provided to 
          a jury after being sworn in and before the people's address 
          to provide that jurors shall not converse among themselves 

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          or with anyone else, conduct research, or disseminate 
          information on any subject connected with the trial and 
          that the court shall clearly explain as part of the 
          admonishment that the prohibition on conversation, 
          research, and dissemination of information applies to all 
          forms of electronic or wireless communications.  

          This bill adds to the existing admonishment provided at 
          each adjournment of the court before the submission of the 
          cause to the jury to not converse among themselves or with 
          anyone else on any subject connected with the trial, or to 
          form or express any opinion about the case until the cause 
          is finally submitted to them, that it is their duty not to 
          conduct research or disseminate information.  This bill 
          provides that as part of the admonishment, the court must 
          clearly explain that the prohibition on research, 
          dissemination of information, and conversation applies to 
          all forms of electronic and wireless communication.  

          This bill clarifies that an officer sworn to keep a jury 
          together for deliberation in some private and convenient 
          place and to not permit any person to speak or communicate 
          with them during the deliberation, or to do so 
          himself/herself, includes any form of electronic or 
          wireless communication.  

          This bill contains other technical, nonsubstantive changes. 


           Prior legislation  .  AB 2217 (Fuentes), 2009-10 Session, 
          passed the Senate (32-0) but was vetoed by the Governor.  
          In his veto message, Governor Schwarzenegger stated:  "This 
          bill would require courts to provide specific admonishments 
          to jurors about communication through electronic and 
          wireless devices.  This bill is unnecessary.  Existing law 
          already sufficiently deals with communications among 
          jurors.  Moreover, this type of admonishment is better 
          handled through court rules rather than by statute."

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes   
          Local:  Yes

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  7/8/11)


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          American Federation of State, County and Municipal 
          Employees, AFL-CIO
          California District Attorneys Association
          California Public Defenders Association
          Civil Justice Association of California
          Consumer Attorneys of California
          Judicial Council of California
          Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
          Office of the Attorney General

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The Judicial Council states, "The 
          council is extremely concerned that jurors' use of 
          electronic devices during the course of a trial is becoming 
          an increasingly significant threat to the integrity of the 
          justice system.  While existing law may indeed cover the 
          improper use of electronic communications by jurors, the 
          council believes a clear statutory directive that the 
          admonishments include modern technological means of 
          communication is needed.  In addition, given the importance 
          of the admonition, the statutory clarification that 
          violators may be held in contempt of court is also 
          important, and would provide the court with necessary 
          enforcement tools for use in appropriate cases."

          According to the author:

            "Existing law requires that at specified intervals, the 
            court in a jury trial to admonish the jury that it is 
            their duty not to converse with, or permit themselves to 
            be addressed by, any other person on any subject of the 
            trial.

            "Although this admonition arguably includes the use of 
            electronic communications, the fact that this kind of 
            communication is not expressly included has resulted in 
            increased problems in courts across the country.  For 
            example, in one case the conviction of a state senator in 
            Pennsylvania is being appealed because jurors discussed 
            the case on Facebook and Twitter. In another case, a 
            $12.6 million verdict was appealed because a juror's 
            Twitter message sent before and after the trial showed 
            that he was biased against the Defendant.  'Tweeting' and 
            'Googling' jurors have caused numerous mistrials."


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           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  60-0, 4/14/11 (Consent)
          AYES:  Achadjian, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Beall, Bill 
            Berryhill, Block, Blumenfield, Bonilla, Bradford, 
            Brownley, Buchanan, Campos, Carter, Cedillo, Chesbro, 
            Cook, Davis, Dickinson, Donnelly, Eng, Fletcher, Fong, 
            Fuentes, Furutani, Gatto, Gordon, Hagman, Halderman, 
            Hall, Hayashi, Roger Hernández, Hill, Huber, Hueso, 
            Huffman, Jeffries, Lara, Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma, Miller, 
            Mitchell, Monning, Nestande, Nielsen, Norby, Pan, Perea, 
            V. Manuel Pérez, Portantino, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, 
            Solorio, Swanson, Torres, Valadao, Wieckowski, Yamada, 
            John A. Pérez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Alejo, Butler, Charles Calderon, Conway, 
            Feuer, Galgiani, Garrick, Gorell, Grove, Harkey, Jones, 
            Knight, Logue, Mansoor, Mendoza, Morrell, Olsen, Wagner, 
            Williams, Vacancy


          RJG:mw  7/11/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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