Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, April 24, 2009


Page 3


LACBA Trustees Vote to Support Juvenile Sentencing Reform


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles County Bar Association Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to back a Senate bill that would allow juveniles sentenced to a term of life without parole to have their cases reviewed after 10 years for possible re-sentencing.

SB 399, introduced by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, does not eliminate the sentence of life without parole for juveniles, which could still be imposed for a murder conviction with special circumstances.

The bill provides for the review of LWOP sentences for offenders who were under the age of 18 when convicted and satisfy three or more of the enumerated criteria by a preponderance of the evidence.

Among the qualifying criteria are a conviction based on felony murder or aiding and abetting a murder, the lack of a juvenile felony adjudication, a conviction based on an offense with at least one adult codefendant, a lack of adult support or supervision prior to the offense, a minor’s cognitive limitations, demonstrated rehabilitation, maintenance of family ties, and a lack of disciplinary violations.

The bill was sponsered by Human Rights Watch, and is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, American Psychiatric Association, the California Public Defender’s Association, Children’s defense Fund, the NAACP, and Youth Law Center, a spokesperson from Yee’s office said.

Opponents to the measure include the California District Attorney’s Association, the California Police Chief’s Association, and Crime Victims United, the spokesperson added.

The Senate Public Safety Committee passed the bill on the 14th, and a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee is set for Monday, according to Yee’s office.

In other news, Associate Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Bruce Berra announced that the organization’s relocation to its new headquarters was accomplished at $11,986 over the allotted budget of $1,078,947. The overage was due to the cost of window tinting, wall paper and carpet that had not been included in the original budget, Berra said.

Trustee David W. Swift informed the board that all registration had closed for the Barristers’ program to assist out-of-work attorneys and third year law students in finding work, scheduled for Tuesday. He reported that the Barristers were looking into ways to make the panel discussion from the event available over the Internet.

W. Clark Brown, the association’s executive director and general counsel, also encouraged the board to support LACBA’s Domestic Violence Project—a joint project with the Los Angeles Superior Court which provides legal assistance for victims of domestic violence to obtain temporary restraining orders against their assailants—by joining in the online auction on the LACBA’s website. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Domestic Violence Project.


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