BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 239
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   May 11, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                    AB 239 (Ammiano) - As Amended:  April 27, 2011

          Policy Committee:                              Public 
          SafetyVote:  7-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program: 
          No     Reimbursable:               

           SUMMARY  

          Requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reconvene the Crime 
          Laboratory Review Task Force (CLRTF) to prepare a supplemental 
          report to the Legislature by July 1, 2013, which includes 
          recommendations regarding the composition of a statewide body to 
          perform specified tasks, including:

          1)Overseeing investigations of misconduct committed by lab 
            employees or contractors.   
          2)Identifying systemic failures and corrective action.   
          3)Recommending an allocation of resources to crime laboratories 
            throughout the state to ensure funds are maximized and 
            distributed appropriately.    
           
           FISCAL EFFECT  

          One-time GF costs in the range of $100,000 to DOJ to administer 
          the task force - temporary staffing, operating expenses and 
          equipment and travel costs. Minor absorbable costs to various 
          state departments who would participate on the task force.   

           COMMENTS  

           1)Rationale.  The author references a series of problems in crime 
            labs around the state as evidence for the need of a statewide 
            body to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding lab 
            oversight, protocols and improvements. 
           
             The author notes that in 2010, San Francisco's criminal 
            laboratory was hit with a scandal involving stolen drug 
            evidence, contaminated DNA samples, destroyed records, and 








                                                                  AB 239
                                                                  Page  2

            sample switching. This scandal resulted in hundreds of 
            narcotics cases being dropped due to possible evidence 
            tampering, and a review of more than 1,400 additional cases 
            for possible dismissal.

            "Criminal laboratories play an integral role in the criminal 
            justice system, however cases of serious misconduct, neglect, 
            and poor practices cast doubt and mistrust in criminal cases 
            and the justice system.  AB 239 seeks to address the critical 
            need of statewide crime laboratory oversight in California to 
            ensure that all criminal cases are handled fairly and 
            appropriately."  

          2)Previous legislation  , AB 1079 (Richardson), 2007, created the 
            original CLRTF, which completed its required report in 2009.   

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081