Criminal Law

Crim. Law Journal Spring/Summer 2020, Vol. 20, Issue 2


Since my last message for the Winter Edition, our world has been turned upside down. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a huge human toll, infecting more than 10 million people worldwide and taking 500,000 lives, including 125,000 Americans (numbers that will surely be outdated by the time you read this).

The pandemic has also had a major impact on criminal law practice in California. Jury trials were paused for months, money bail was eliminated for many offenses, and jail populations were reduced to allow for greater distancing. Our Executive Committee played an important role advising the Judicial Council on its emergency rules and will continue to advise the Council and other policymakers as we adjust to the new normal.

In the midst of this global pandemic, the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others sparked a national reckoning on systemic racism and police accountability. I formed a 10-member Racial Justice Committee, which helped draft a formal statement on these issues that is published in this Journal and on our website.

We have also convened a series of programs to meet this moment, including a forum with Executive Committee members Otis Bruce, Brooke Jenkins, and Lei-Chala Wilson discussing the role of race in the criminal justice system and their career paths as African-American prosecutors and defense attorneys. We also have upcoming CLEs on how to access police officer discipline records and measures to limit the impact of race on jury selection.

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