This legislative year there are several bills working their way through the legislature that can have significant impact on the work of criminal attorneys. Many may evolve as they work their way through the legislative committee process. CLA has a bill tracker website that gets updated and is good source for getting information about proposed legislation. One significant piece of legislation that touches upon the work of criminal attorneys is the CARES (Community Assistance Recovery & Empowerment) court proposal by Governor Gavin Newsom. It is a proposal to introduce a new civil court that according to a fact sheet on the California Health and Human Services website “…is a proposed framework to deliver mental health and substance use disorder services to the most severely impaired Californians who too often languish – suffering in homelessness or incarceration – without the treatment they desperately need.” Family members, first responders, county representatives and community-based treatment organizations could petition that an individual be placed in a CARES court. That CARES court client would be represented in the process by a public defender and support person and the court ordered program could be for as long as twelve to twenty-four months. The goal of the court is to be an upstream diversion program that helps to prevent more restrictive conservatorships and incarceration. It is focused on those, who because of a mental disorder, lack decision making capacity on their own. As various stakeholders begin engaging and providing feedback the language and details of the law may evolve. The California Health and Human Services website on this program is currently seeking input from the public.
CLA remains active in monitoring and participating in the legislative process. We have an upcoming Legislative Day on April 6th that CLA members can sign up for. This is an excellent opportunity for CLA members to interact with decision makers who are responsible for making laws that could have a significant impact on our profession.