BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó


          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   AB 239|
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                                 THIRD READING

          Bill No:  AB 239
          Author:   Ammiano (D)
          Amended:  8/30/11 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  6-0, 6/21/11
          AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Calderon, Liu, Price, Steinberg
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Harman
          SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  9-0, 8/25/11
          AYES:  Kehoe, Walters, Alquist, Emmerson, Lieu, Pavley, 
            Price, Runner, Steinberg

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  79-0, 5/31/11 - See last page for vote

           SUBJECT  :    Crime laboratories:  oversight

           SOURCE  :     California Public Defenders Association

           DIGEST  :    This bill reconvenes the Crime Laboratory Review 
          Task Force to make recommendations regarding a statewide 
          oversight body and to perform specified tasks relating to 
          crime laboratories in California.

           Senate Floor Amendments  of 8/30/11 provide that the 
          oversight body would determine the root cause of crime 
          laboratory errors.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law requires the Department of 
          Justice (DOJ) to establish and chair the Crime Laboratory 


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          Review Task Force (CLRTF), comprising of representatives 
          from DOJ, the California Association of 
          Crime Laboratory Directors; California Association of 
          Criminalists; International Association for Identification; 
          American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors; Department 
          of the California Highway Patrol; California State 
          Sheriffs' Association, from a department with a crime 
          laboratory; California District Attorneys Association, from 
          an office with a crime laboratory; California Police Chiefs 
          Association,  from a department with a crime laboratory; 
          California Peace Officers' Association; California Public 
          Defenders Association; a private criminal defense attorney 
          organization; the Judicial Council, to be appointed by the 
          Chief Justice; Office of the Speaker of the Assembly; 
          Office of the President pro Tempore of the Senate; and two 
          representatives to be appointed by the Governor.  (Penal 
          Code Section 11062(a) and (b))
           Existing law requires the CLRTF to review and make 
          recommendations as to best configure, fund, and improve the 
          delivery of state and local crime laboratory services in 
          the future.  To the extent feasible, the review and 
          recommendations shall include, but are not limited to, the 
          following issues:

          1. With respect to organization and management of crime 
             laboratory services, consideration of whether the 
             existing mix of state and local crime laboratories is 
             the most effective and efficient means to meet 
             California's future needs; whether laboratories should 
             be further consolidated, and who should have oversight; 
             if some management for some laboratories should be 
             transferred; whether all laboratories should provide 
             similar services; and how other states have addressed 
             similar issues.

          2. With respect to staff and training, consideration of how 
             to address recruiting and retention problems of 
             laboratory staff; whether educational and training 
             opportunities are adequate to supply the needs of fully 
             trained forensic criminalists in the future; whether 
             continuing education is available to ensure that 
             forensic science personnel are up to date in their field 
             of expertise; if crime laboratory personnel should be 



                                                                AB 239

             certified and if so, the appropriate agency to assume 
             this responsibility; and the future educational role if 
             any for the University of California or the California 
             State University.

          3. With respect to funding, consideration of whether the 
             current method of funding laboratories is predictable, 
             stable and adequate to meet future growth demands and to 
             provide timely and accurate testing results; and, the 
             adequacy of salary structures to attract and retain 
             competent analyst and examiners. 

          4. With respect to performance standards and equipment, 
             consideration of whether workload demands are being 
             prioritized properly and whether there are important 
             workload issues not being addressed; if existing 
             laboratories have necessary capabilities, staffing and 
             equipment; and if statewide standards should be 
             developed for the accreditation of forensic 
             laboratories, including minimum staffing levels; if so, 
             a determination regarding what entity should serve as 
             the sanctioning body.  (Penal Code Section 11062(c))
           Existing law requires the CLRTF to seek input from 
          specialized law enforcement disciplines, other state and 
          local agencies, relevant advocacy groups, and the public.  
          The final report also shall include a complete inventory of 
          existing California crime laboratories.  This inventory 
          shall contain sufficient details on staffing, workload, 
          budget, major instrumentation, and organizational placement 
          within the controlling agency.  (Penal Code Section 
           Existing law requires the CLRTF to submit a final report of 
          its findings to the Department of Finance and the Budget 
          and Public Safety Committees of both houses of the 

          (Penal Code Section 11062(f))
           This bill requires CLRTF to reconvene to prepare a 
          supplemental report by July 1, 2013, which includes 
          recommendations regarding the composition of a statewide 
          body to oversee crime laboratories.



                                                                AB 239

           This bill provides that the oversight body shall perform 
          the following tasks:

           1. Implement federal legislation or guidelines imposed 
             directly on crime laboratories or imposed indirectly as 
             a requirement for receiving a grant.

           2. Oversee investigations into acts of misconduct or 
             negligence committed by any employee or contractor of a 
             crime laboratory.

           3. Collect data generated by investigations in order to 
             determine the root causes of crime laboratory errors.

           4. Identify systemic failures and make recommendations for 
             preventing future problems.

           5. Study methods to facilitate communication between 
             laboratories and stakeholders and draft guidelines for 
             disclosure and discovery of crime laboratory documents.

           6. Make recommendations to the Legislature and local 
             governmental entities regarding the allocation of 
             resources to crime laboratories throughout the state to 
             ensure that taxpayers' funds are maximized and 
             distributed in a more equitable manner. 
           This bill states that the reporting requirements, as 
          specified, are to be inoperative by July 1, 2017, and the 
          report shall be submitted to the Legislature in compliance 
          with provisions of the Government Code, as specified. 
           This bill makes the following declarations:

          1. The State of California has benefited from having a 
             large number of publicly operated crime laboratories, 
             some operated by the state and others by local 

          2. The state is also served by a number of forensic units 
             housed in local law enforcement agencies.

          3. Currently there is no statewide oversight of publicly 



                                                                AB 239

             operated crime laboratories in California.

          4. The Crime Laboratory Review Task Force was established 
             by the Department of Justice and made recommendations to 
             the Department of Finance and the Legislature regarding 
             the role a statewide oversight body would play in 
             California.  The Task Force did not, however, make a 
             recommendation regarding the composition of that 
             oversight body.

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

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

                          Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

             Major Provisions                2011-12     2012-13    
             2013-14               Fund  

            DOJ to reconvene              $68       $68       

            CLTF member         Potential state-reimbursable costs 
            to                  General
            participation       local agency participants in excess 

            Supplemental report           Substantial future cost 
            pressure if         General/
                                oversight body convened       

          The DOJ indicates one-time costs of over $100,000 over two 
          years to administer the CLRTF.  Costs include temporary 
          staffing, operating expenses, equipment, and travel costs.  
          Although not keyed as a reimbursable mandate, by requiring 
          additional duties upon CLRTF members to provide a 
          supplemental report could result in state-reimbursable 
          costs of an unknown amount.



                                                                AB 239

          There may be substantial future cost pressure to implement 
          the recommendations of the CLRTF, once developed.  The 
          extent of those costs and the agencies that would incur 
          those costs are unknown at this time but would be 
          significant, and would be dependent upon the specific 
          recommendations outlined in the report regarding the 
          composition of the oversight body and the responsible 
          entities to complete the tasks required to be performed.

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/26/11)

          California Public Defenders Association (source)

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author:

            "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. 

            "In 2010, San Francisco's criminal laboratory was hit 
            with a scandal involving stolen drug evidence, 
            contaminated DNA samples, destroyed records, and sample 
            switching.  This scandal alone prompted hundreds of 
            narcotics cases to be thrown out or not charged because 
            of possible evidence tampering, and the review of over 
            1,400 more for possible dismissal.

            "While the charges of misconduct are shocking, they are 
            not unique to San Francisco. In recent years, 
            laboratories in Santa Clara and the Central Valley have 
            had similar problems of stolen drug evidence, and 
            misconduct.  These cases raise serious red flags about 
            the management, and integrity of criminal laboratories, 
            which not only affects public perception of the criminal 
            justice system, but also the numerous people who 
            potentially might be wrongfully convicted due to serious 

            "AB 239 seeks to not only improve California's criminal 
            justice system through an increased dialogue, but also 



                                                                AB 239

            garner public trust.  By reinstating the Crime Laboratory 
            Review Task Force, experts from the criminal justice, 
            forensics, and law enforcement fields will have a voice 
            in reviewing and making recommendations as to how to 
            improve state and local crime laboratory services through 
            the creation of a supplemental report that includes a 
            proposal to establish a statewide body to oversee crime 

            "Specifically, AB 239 provides the California Crime 
            Laboratory Review Task Force be reconvened for the sole 
            purpose of making recommendations by July 1, 2013, on how 
            to best configure a state-wide oversight body whose 
            responsibilities will include but not be limited to (1) 
            implementing federal legislation and/or guidelines 
            imposed directly on crime labs or indirectly as a 
            requirement of accepting a grant; (2) oversee 
            investigations into acts of misconduct or negligence; (3) 
            collect data generated by investigations in order to 
            determine root causes of misconduct or negligence; (4) 
            identify systemic failures and make recommendations for 
            preventing future problems (5) study means to facilitate 
            communication between labs and stakeholders and draft 
            guidelines for disclosure and discovery of crime lab 
            documents; and (6) make recommendations to the State 
            Legislature and local governments regarding the 
            allocation of resources to crime laboratories throughout 
            the state to ensure that taxpayers' funds are not wasted 
            and are distributed in a more equitable manner.

            "In a 2007 bi-partisan effort, the Legislature created 
            the California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force to 
            review and make recommendations as to how to improve the 
            delivery of state and local crime laboratory services for 
            the future.  (Pen. Code § 1106(c).)  In November 2009, 
            the Task Force issued an initial report that called for 
            the creation of a state oversight or advisory body to 
            review forensic science and crime laboratory issues, and 
            that the specifics of this proposal, including the 
            composition and functions of this body, would be 
            described in a supplemental report published in one year 
            of the initial report.  Despite the growing problems in 
            San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Joaquin Counties' 
            crime labs, the Task Force voted to terminate itself.  



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            Consequently, a follow up report was never produced.  

            "According to the Task Force's initial report, states 
            across the nation, as many as 16 such as New York, Texas, 
            Washington State, have created an entity charged with 
            some degree of oversight responsibility over crime 
            laboratories.  While the scope of these entities ranges 
            from make up to the purpose, they all are concerned about 
            the challenges facing crime laboratories, and believe 
            that crime laboratory oversight is essential in creating 
            high quality forensics testing and a just criminal 
            justice system. California must follow in suit."

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  79-0, 5/31/11
          AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Beall, 
            Bill Berryhill, Block, Blumenfield, Bonilla, Bradford, 
            Brownley, Buchanan, Butler, Charles Calderon, Campos, 
            Carter, Cedillo, Chesbro, Conway, Cook, Davis, Dickinson, 
            Donnelly, Eng, Feuer, Fletcher, Fong, Fuentes, Furutani, 
            Beth Gaines, Galgiani, Garrick, Gatto, Gordon, Grove, 
            Hagman, Halderman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Roger 
            Hernández, Hill, Huber, Hueso, Huffman, Jeffries, Jones, 
            Knight, Lara, Logue, Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma, Mansoor, 
            Mendoza, Miller, Mitchell, Monning, Morrell, Nestande, 
            Nielsen, Norby, Olsen, Pan, Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, 
            Portantino, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio, Swanson, 
            Torres, Valadao, Wagner, Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada, 
            John A. Pérez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Gorell

          RJG:mw  8/31/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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