Monday, March 22, 2010

House Judiciary: HB 324 Bail Changes

Things didn't go as planned today, which is pretty normal. I got roped into discussing some proposed legislation, and then someone's wife needed a ride to the doctor so I offered to do that so the husband could do other things. So my time at the House Judiciary listening to the discussion on the Bail bill was cut short. I got there late and had to leave early.

Mar 22 Monday 1:00 PMCAPITOL 120

Things were pretty technical. Rep. Gruenberg kept asking lawyerly questions about the implications in real people's lives. Sometimes the witness, I think it was Sue McLean of the Department of Law, said something like "Well the law has said that since 1966." But it was clear that there were real issues lurking beneath the surface that were not obvious to someone who doesn't regularly deal with clients getting bail. Here's a bit of what it sounded like from my rough notes. They were talking about what happened if you had to arrest a material witness for a trial. Then they were talking about when is a person technically convicted:
Ramras: What does this have to do with the Governor's sexual assault initiative?
Ramras: Could you point out what has to do with the Sexual assault initiative and what is general updating? General Sullivan [Attorney General] initially said this was related to the initiative.
Dahlstrom: If I were a material witness, would I know? Do I need to be arrested if I'm a material witness?
McLean: No, the person has been served a subpoena and says I'm not coming.
Gruenberg: I'm concerned. Someone comes to the door. Home owner is just angry, spur of the moment, says, "Hell no! I won't go." Would that go on his record?
McLean: When I said there was a record of the arrest, the police have to keep track of who they arrest. In most cases probably not come up in employment application, but possibly for high security jobs.
Heron: Are there classes of material witnesses?
McLean: Material witness is someone who has knowledge of a case. Judge wouldn't issue a warrant unless the judge ???. Regarding the employment, as someone who does hire people, arrest records are not routinely asked for. Now it is conviction not arrests.
Gatto: Difference between protective custody and arrested?
McLean: Protective custody, mentally ill, alcoholic, is confidential. It is on the police record, but not released to others.
Gatto: ???
McLean: I can't think of a time that a victim is arrested as a material witness in investigative stage, though possibly during trial if witness doesn't show up.
Gruenberg: Standards in this bill are lower than others - 'practical' We have to deal with how people can handle this later and language needs to be tightened.
McLean: Has been the language since 1996. These grants for material witnesses are very rare.
McLean: Sec. 13 - conforming amendments. Sec. 14 makes it clear ??? Sec. 15 adds definitions Sec. 16-18 are conforming amendments.
Gruenberg: SEc. 14 - no problem, first time really setting out time someone is technically guilty.
McLean: We're setting out when a person is convicted.
Gruenberg: In civil case, person isn't liable until judge signs the judgment. But you're moving up the time from when the judge signs it to when the jury convicts. Prior to sentencing and prior to any post conviction motions. Is this a change in the law?
McLean: For the most part no. It comes up often. Presumptive sentencing. Over the years it's been a matter of debate when the conviction occurs. If after conviction but before sentencing, it depends. This bill tries to explain when they are convicted for purposes of bail.
Gruenberg: The changes the bill makes in current law.
McLean: Under current law, there is nothing that states when a person is officially convicted for ??, though we proceed as though we know. Once a person is convicted, they are taken into custody, but here we are making it clear.
Gruenberg. Yesterday a jury convicted. Today back on a second charge, is that a second offense if the Judge hasn't signed it yet?
McLean: One of the most debated points. Person is not regarded as convicted for DUI if not sentenced on the first one. Other than that I'll research it and tell you where the differences are.
Gruenberg: Consider these as friendly questions.
McLean: Section 19 provides that sexual violence protective orders may not be ? require that defendent be served by law enforcement officer. If the person is in court on the criminal part, not necessary to go find the person again.
Gruenberg: Any tech difference between "process" and "courts order"? ...
McLean: I'll look into that, what is served on the person at the time is the order and the victim's -
Gruenberg: this only requires the court order and not the dv petition. I'd like the person to get the same as what the police would get.
 Then I had to take off.  I think this was only the second time I've driven a car since I got here.  Travel time in a car is much faster than walking.  I know that sounds obvious, but my head is geared to walking time these days, so I got over to Douglas Island with plenty of time.  Since I was early, I went to the end of the road where I'd heard there was a good hiking trail.  I had time to get out of the car and look around a bit.  And I discovered this sign at the trail head which handled the 'dog nuisance' dilemma with much more style.

Then I picked up the patient and whisked over to the doctor's office.   I perused a book I'd picked up at the library and soon the patient was back home and I was back at the Capitol.

My ex-staffer role sometimes gets me into meetings that I can't write about, but they give me insight into what is going on for other posts.  I went to one of those and from there went to the Leg Council meeting.
Alaska Legislative Council (from the Gavel to Gavel Guide)

The Alaska Legislative Council is a permanent interim committee of the Legislature and is responsible for conducting the business of the Legislature when it is not in session. It was first established in 1953 and was given constitutional status at statehood. The council is composed of the president of the Senate and five other senators appointed by the president, and the speaker of the House and five other representatives appointed by the speaker. The council elects a chair and a vice-chair. Members continue to serve until reappointed or replaced after the organization of a new Legislature.

The Alaska Legislative Council constitutes the Alaska Commission on Interstate Cooperation, which encourages and arranges cooperation with other levels and units of government and carries out the programs of the Council of State Governments as they apply to Alaska. The council chair serves as chair of the commission.
No sooner had I sat down than they called an executive session.  At a different committee  the chair couldn't readily say why they were calling an executive session.  But this time as I was walking out I heard the explanation:
 discussion of matters, the immediate knowledge of which would adversely affect the finances of a government unit;
 I just don't know what matters.   It was after five already so I packed up and called it a day. 

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