Numerous new laws recently took effect that are of interest to California lawyers. Make sure you’re up to speed on all the changes, some of which are highlighted below. These laws went into effect January 1, 2022, unless otherwise stated.
Legislation Related to COVID-19
Several bills grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most significant for the legal community was legislation allowing parties and witnesses in civil cases to appear remotely through July 1, 2023. Under SB 241 (Umberg) courts may require a party or witness to appear in person if certain conditions are present and cannot require a party or witness to appear remotely.
When it comes to domestic violence and gun violence restraining orders, SB 538 (Rubio) requires courts to enable electronic filing and remote appearances.
In employment law, SB 657 (Ochoa Bogh) allows employers to email required notices to employees in addition to physically posting the information in the workplace.
In landlord-tenant law, AB 832 (Chiu), which took effect last year, extended the eviction moratorium through September 30, 2021. The legislation also provides post-moratorium recovery provisions for unlawful detainer actions filed from October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022.
The legislature also passed bills aimed at criminal justice reform.
AB 124 (Kamlager) allows courts to reduce a convicted criminal’s sentence if their experiences of childhood trauma, intimate partner violence, or sex trafficking contributed to their criminal behavior.
AB 419 (Davies) prohibits attorneys from disclosing any personal identifying information for a victim or witness, but removes the misdemeanor penalty for violating the provisions.
AB 625 (Arambula) calls for a study of appropriate workloads for public defenders and indigent defense attorneys with a report due by January 1, 2024.
AB 939 (Cervantes) prohibits admission of evidence on how a victim was dressed during the prosecution of sex crimes.
AB 1003 (Gonzalez) creates a new crime of grand theft for “intentional theft of wages.”
AB 3070 (Weber) prohibits parties from using a peremptory challenge to remove a prospective juror based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, or religious affiliation, or perceived membership in any of those groups. The law was passed in 2020 but went into effect January 1, 2022, for criminal trials. It will go into effect on January 1, 2026, for civil trials.
Civil Law and Procedure
SB 331 (Leyva) increases the scope of previous legislation that prohibited confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in settlement agreements.
AB 1405 (Wicks) establishes the Fair Debt Settlement Practices Act, designed to protect low-income consumers from predatory debt collection practices. It allows a consumer to bring a cause of action against a debt settlement provider and recover damages and attorney’s fees.
SB 531 (Wieckowski) requires debt collectors to have proof of authority to collect a debt effective July 1, 2022.
SB 332 (Dodd) minimizes liability for landowners using prescribed burns to prevent future wildfires.
SB 762 (Wieckowski) requires arbitration providers to invoice for any fees and costs before the arbitration can proceed.
Legislation Sponsored by CLA Sections
Four CLA Sections sponsored bills that were enacted in 2021 and went into effect Jan. 1. They are:
AB 283 (Chen), dealing with cooperative corporations and corporate securities exemptions.
AB 429 (Dahle), dealing with the confidentiality of proceedings and records in parentage cases.
AB 663 (Chen), providing flexibility to corporations to conduct shareholder or member meetings in both emergency and non-emergency circumstances.
AB 1079 (Gallagher), clarifying which beneficiaries under a revocable trust are owed duties by the trustee in the event the settlor or other person holding the power to revoke the trust becomes incompetent.
The Judicial Council of California wrote an article about the new laws. The council also created a summary and index of all of the new laws of interest to the legal community on topics ranging from access to justice to court budgets.
Governor Newsom has highlighted landmark and other notable new bills signed into law in 2021 that went into effect Jan. 1