Connect with us

California

Newsom announces historic Supreme Court nominations 

Judge Kelli Evans will be the second openly LGBTQ+ justice to serve on the state’s high court joining Justice Martin Jenkins

Published

on

California Supreme Court building (Photo Credit: State of California Courts)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced his nomination of Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Guerrero to serve as California’s next Chief Justice after Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye concludes her current term of office on January 2, 2023.

A first-generation Californian, Justice Guerrero was the first Latina to serve on the California Supreme Court and, if confirmed, will be the first Latina to serve as California’s Chief Justice.  

Justice Patricia Guerrero

“Justice Guerrero has established herself as a widely respected jurist with a formidable intellect and command of the law and deep commitment to equal justice and public service,” said Governor Newsom. “A first-generation Californian from the Imperial Valley, Justice Guerrero broke barriers as California’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, enriching our state’s highest court with her insights and deep understanding of the real-world impacts of the Court’s decisions in the lives of everyday Californians. I thank Justice Guerrero for her willingness to step into this role and am confident that the people of California will continue to be well served by her leadership for years to come.”   

“I am humbled by this nomination to lead our state’s Supreme Court and thank the Governor for entrusting me with this honor,” said Justice Guerrero, who was sworn in to the California Supreme Court by Governor Newsom earlier this year. “If confirmed, I look forward to continuing the strides the Court has made under Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye to expand equal access to justice and create a fairer justice system for all Californians.”  

The Governor also announced his intention to appoint Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans to serve as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Justice Guerrero’s elevation to Chief Justice.

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang:

“Representation is power, and it’s critical in our collective fight for full, lived equality. Governor Newsom’s historic appointment of Judge Evans ensures that California’s highest court better reflects the diversity of our state and sends an important message to the rest of the country at a time when LGBTQ+ people, women and communities of color are under attack. Judge Evans is an outstanding, highly qualified jurist, and we are confident she will continue to uphold and advance equal justice under the law for all Californians.”

Judge Evans assumed office in 2021 as a judge of the Superior Court of Alameda County. Evans served as an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office, as an Attorney for the ACLU of Northern California and as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from.

She was Senior Director for the Administration of Justice at the California State Bar and Special Assistant to the Attorney General at the California Department of Justice. From 2019 to 2020, Evans worked as Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary for Criminal Justice in the Office of Governor Newsom, where she worked as Chief Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary from 2020 to 2021.

“Throughout her career, Judge Evans has dedicated herself to helping all Californians have an equal chance at justice,” said Governor Newsom. “Raised by her grandmother in public housing, Judge Evans was inspired from a young age to find ways to help expand justice and opportunity for everyone, especially marginalized and vulnerable communities. I have seen firsthand her commitment to the highest ideals of public service, and her passion to protect and advance civil rights and liberties for all Californians. I have no doubt that her exemplary talent, wide-ranging knowledge and experience, strong moral compass, and work ethic will make her an outstanding Supreme Court Justice,” said Governor Newsom.   

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

Judge Evans will be the second openly LGBTQ+ justice to serve on the state’s high court joining Justice Martin Jenkins who was appointed October 2020.

“I am truly honored by this opportunity to serve the people of California on our state’s highest court,” said Judge Evans. “I have worked my entire career to promote equality and access to justice and to protect the rights of some of society’s most disenfranchised members. If confirmed, I look forward to furthering our state’s work to ensure equal justice under the law for all Californians.”  

“Governor Gavin Newsom has made historic appointments to the California Supreme Court in nominating Justice Patricia Guerrero to be the new Chief Justice and Judge Kelli Evans to be a Justice. These two individuals are impeccably qualified,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “They will lead the California Supreme Court in using the California Constitution and California law to advance freedom and equality.”  

Background biographical on the Governor’s choices:

Raised in the Imperial Valley by immigrant parents from Mexico, Justice Guerrero, 50, of Coronado, served as an Associate Justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One from 2017 to 2022 and has wide-ranging experience as a trial court judge, partner at a major law firm and Assistant U.S. Attorney.  

As an appellate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Justice Guerrero authored numerous opinions to protect the rights of consumers and individuals, while also ensuring that defendants’ constitutional rights are protected and that all parties, including the government, are treated fairly and consistent with the rule of law. She served as a Judge at the San Diego County Superior Court from 2013 to 2017 and was Supervising Judge for the Family Law Division at the Court in 2017. Justice Guerrero was hired as an Associate at Latham & Watkins and became a Partner in 2006. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California from 2002 to 2003. Justice Guerrero earned a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School. The compensation for this position is $293,286. She is a Democrat.   

“This is truly an exceptional and historic day for the people of California and for the justice system. Justice Guerrero is an outstanding choice to lead our court system. This includes chairing the work of the California Supreme Court in reviewing the landscape of thousands of legal opinions across the state and ensuring that the development of the law is consistent with the statutory and Constitutional mandates that govern our state,” said retired California Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno. “Justice Guerrero’s inspiring nomination demonstrates that, regardless of humble beginnings, hard work and commitment to one’s values can lead to the fulfillment of the true American dream.”

Instilled with the importance of education by her grandmother, Judge Evans, 53, of Oakland, excelled academically and was able to attend a top-rated high school when her family moved from a public housing project to a HUD subsidized apartment. One of only a small number of students of color at the school, she managed to thrive and graduate among the top of her class while working 20 hours a week to help support her family. Judge Evans went on to attend Stanford University and earn a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law, where she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. award for exceptional public service.    

Judge Evans has served as a Judge in the Alameda County Superior Court since 2021. Prior to this appointment, she served as Chief Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary in the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, where she helped shape California’s moratorium on capital punishment and advised the Governor and executive agencies on myriad issues in administrative proceedings and in state and federal trial and appellate courts. 

Judge Evans served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General at the California Department of Justice from 2017 to 2019 and was Senior Director for the Administration of Justice at the California State Bar from 2014 to 2017. She was Associate Director of the ACLU of Northern California from 2010 to 2013, where she served as an Attorney from 1995 to 1998. She was a Partner at Independent Assessment & Monitoring LLP from 2006 to 2010 and an Associate at Relman and Associates from 2001 to 2004. Judge Evans served as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1998 to 2001 and as an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office in 1995. She has served as a member of federal court-appointed monitoring teams for the Oakland and Cleveland Police Departments.  

“Judge Kelli Evans is a brilliant choice to serve as Associate Justice on the California Supreme Court. Besides being an amazingly accomplished lawyer and judge, she has devoted her professional life – and her very heart and soul – to social justice for all and is ideally suited for service on the state’s highest court. I cannot imagine anybody better than Judge Evans to fill the vacancy,” said Kevin Johnson, Dean of the University of California, Davis School of Law.

The Governor’s nominations and appointments must be submitted to the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The Commission on Judicial Appointments consists of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Senior Presiding Justice of the state Court of Appeal Manuel Ramirez.

The nomination of Justice Guerrero as Chief Justice must also be confirmed by the voters in the November 8, 2022 general election. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

California

Newsom signs legislation to support California Native communities

Advances equity, inclusion and highlights the unique history, culture and government of tribes in the Golden State

Published

on

Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Today on Native American Day, Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities and build on the Administration’s work to promote equity, inclusion and accountability throughout the state.

AB 1314 establishes a statewide emergency alert system for missing Native people 

In a ceremony joined by leaders of Native American tribes from across California, the Governor signed AB 1314 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) to help address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Native people from communities across the country.

Under AB 1314, local law enforcement will be able to request that the California Highway Patrol activate an emergency Feather Alert, similar to an Amber or Silver alert, to assist in search efforts for a Native person who has been reported missing under suspicious circumstances.

“As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities,” said Governor Newsom. “Today’s measures continue to move these efforts forward, including a new emergency alert system that will provide us with additional critical tools needed to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. I thank all the legislators and tribal partners whose leadership and advocacy help light the path forward in our work to build a better, stronger and more just state together.”

Governor signs AB 1314 alongside Assemblymember Ramos, Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider and leaders of Native American tribes from across the state (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“AB 1314 will help us get the word out sooner when an individual is missing or endangered, enlisting the help of the public for tips and leads as soon as possible when quick action is critical,” said Assemblymember Ramos. “I thank the Governor for signing this vital measure – creating an alert system was a top recommendation from tribal leaders for addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.”

The state budget this year invests $12 million over three years to fund tribally-led programs to help address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People on tribal lands. This investment built on last year’s investment of $5 million to fund training and guidance for law enforcement agencies and tribal governments to improve public safety on tribal lands and study challenges related to the reporting and identification of missing and murdered Native peoples, particularly women and girls.

AB 1936 re-designates UC Hastings College of the Law and advances restorative justice efforts for Native peoples who suffered mass killings orchestrated by the college’s founder

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1936 by Assemblymember Ramos, which re-designates the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law as the College of the Law, San Francisco and advances restorative justice efforts for Round Valley Indian Tribes and Yuki people whose ancestors suffered mass killings and other atrocities funded and supported by college founder Serranus Hastings in the mid-19th century. 

AB 1936 also outlines several restorative justice initiatives that the College intends to pursue, such as renaming the law library with a Native language name, annually reading a statement of the atrocities Hastings committed against the Yuki people and providing collaborative opportunities for Round Valley tribal students to gain debate and writing experience, among other efforts.  

AB 2022 will remove the racist and sexist slur squaw from all geographic features and place names in California

Under AB 2022 by Assemblymember Ramos, the racist and sexist term “squaw” will be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, and a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names will be created. This comes on the heels of federal action this month to complete the removal of this slur from nearly 650 geographic features across the country, including several name changes advanced by California based on extensive tribal engagement. The Newsom Administration has launched a series of ongoing actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems.   

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1703 by Assemblymember Ramos, the California Indian Education Act. The measure encourages local educational agencies and charter schools to form California Indian Education Task Forces in partnership with local tribes to develop curricular materials that highlight the unique history, culture and government of tribes in their region.

Continue Reading

California

Calif. companies limited in cannabis testing; statewide access ok’d

Laws preventing employers from screening for cannabis use as a condition of employment & stop cities from banning Medicinal Cannabis signed

Published

on

Cannabis testing (Photo Credit: By kuprevich- FreePix stock photos)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a law that will prevent employers from screening for cannabis use as a condition of employment except for narrow exceptions and also for use in terminating an employee.

The law, Assembly Bill 2188, will ban employers from any determination based on cannabis use while employees are off work. It also prevents them from hiring or firing based on that. There are exceptions for on-the-job use prohibitions and in positions that require a federal background investigation or clearance.

The law also provides for prohibitions on employees’ cannabis use while at work, working while impaired, and being in possession of cannabis while on the job.

The language reads:

This bill, on and after January 1, 2024, would also make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace, except for preemployment drug screening, as specified, or upon an employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.

The bill would exempt certain applicants and employees from the bill’s provisions, including employees in the building and construction trades and applicants and employees in positions requiring a federal background investigation or clearance, as specified.

The bill would specify that the bill does not preempt state or federal laws requiring applicants or employees to be tested for controlled substances as a condition of employment, receiving federal funding or federal licensing-related benefits, or entering into a federal contract.

In a related matter, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 1186, was also signed into law by Newsom this past week. The law restores voter-created access to medicinal cannabis across the state by requiring cities to allow patients access to purchase legal medicinal cannabis by delivery. SB 1186 will take also effect on January 1, 2024.

“This is a victory for seniors, and for those living with HIV,  cancer, and other chronic illnesses who use medical cannabis,” said Senator Wiener, “Finally, patients in rural areas – who have to drive for hours or rely on the illegal cannabis market to access their medicine – will be able to get cannabis delivered right to their door. Thank you, Governor Newsom, for helping us ensure anyone who needs it can access this life-saving medicine.” 

Under current California law — which allows cities to ban any and all cannabis sales — 62% of cities have banned all cannabis sales, including medical cannabis sales. As a result, residents of those cities, including people living with HIV, cancer, arthritis, insomnia, and other conditions, frequently have no option other than to buy on the illicit market. California’s thriving and growing illicit cannabis market both undermines the legal, regulated market and risks people obtaining contaminated cannabis.

To address this significant medical access problem, SB 1186 requires cities to allow medical cannabis access via delivery.

Wiener’s office in a press release pointed out:

To be clear, SB 1186 does not in any way change cities’ ability to limit or ban sales of *adult* use of cannabis. Prop 64, passed by the voters in 2016, grants cities that local control. But Prop 64 did not speak to medical cannabis — which the voters legalized in 1996 via Prop 215 — and the Legislature’s decision to grant cities that local control was not required by any voter measure. Indeed, the Legislature’s grant of power to cities to ban medical cannabis undermined the voters’ intent in passing Prop 215. Prop 215’s core goal was to create legal access to cannabis as medicine.”

California was the first state in the country to allow medical use of cannabis with the 1996 approval of Proposition 215. This voter initiative, driven largely by caretakers and activists seeking palliative therapies for AIDS and cancer patients, led to a cascade of state medical cannabis legalization efforts nationwide, as well as recognition that cannabis is essential medicine.

SB 1186 prioritizes patient health by allowing patients to access licensed deliveries in their area and by prohibiting jurisdictions from enacting restrictions on these businesses that have the effect of prohibiting retail sale by delivery.

Under SB 1186, local jurisdictions retain all of their local control over adult-use (non-medicinal) cannabis businesses. This law simply prevents jurisdictions from prohibiting medicinal cannabis delivery and therefore preventing patients from accessing the medicine they need.

Continue Reading

California

Newsom signs legislation to crack down on hate crimes 

“California will not tolerate violence terrorizing our communities, and this measure updates state law to punish use of symbols of hate”

Published

on

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

SACRAMENTO – Amid an increase in hate-fueled violence across the country, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Sunday to equalize and strengthen penalties for using hate symbols and bolster security for targeted religious and community-based nonprofits. 

AB 2282 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) brings parity to penalties for burning crosses and using swastikas and nooses. Currently, using a noose as a hate symbol carries the lightest penalty of the three while cross burning is the most highly penalized. Under AB 2282, individuals who use any of the three symbols of hate will be subject to the strongest of these criminal penalties.

“At a time when hate pervades the public discourse and violent extremism threatens our communities, it’s critical that we take a clear, strong stand against bigotry in all its forms,” said Newsom. “California will not tolerate violence terrorizing any of our communities, and this measure updates state law to punish the use of universally recognized symbols of hate equally and to the fullest extent of the law. California will continue to lead the fight to stamp out hate and defend those under attack for who they are, how they identify or what they believe in.”

In addition, AB 2282 equalizes the restrictions on where the symbols can legally be used and expands restricted locations for each to include K-12 schools, colleges, cemeteries, places of worship, private property, public spaces and places of employment, among other locations.

“I’m so grateful Governor Newsom has signed AB 2282 protecting our communities from symbols of terror” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. “This critical legislation ensures that vulnerable communities are protected equally against the use of terror symbols, such as burning crosses, nazi symbols, and nooses. I am proud to have been able to work with many stakeholders to ensure that this bill recognizes and protects a diverse group of Californians.”

The Governor also signed AB 1664 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) to bolster the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps nonprofit organizations that are targets of hate-motivated violence improve security at their facilities. AB 1664 extends the program, which was set to expire in 2025, and enables grant recipients to fund additional uses, including security training.

The State Nonprofit Security Grant Program was codified under legislation by Assemblymember Gabriel signed by the Governor in 2019 following the Chabad of Poway shooting. This year, nearly $50 million in grants were awarded to 290 nonprofit community groups through the program, including houses of worship, reproductive health clinics and cultural centers.

“In a world where hate crimes and antisemitism are on the rise, we need more than thoughts and prayers to keep us safe,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “This new law will provide critical resources to protect vulnerable communities and send a powerful message that California stands firmly with those targeted by hate. I applaud Governor Newsom for his steadfast leadership in standing up to hate and bigotry and thank him for signing this important bill today.”

Governor Newsom and the Legislature have funded a total of $115 million for the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and an additional more than $150 million to support other anti-hate programs that provide direct support for impacted communities and victims. Earlier this week, the Governor named appointments to the Commission on the State of Hate, created by legislation he signed last year to track hate crimes, develop anti-hate resources and make recommendations to better protect civil rights. The Governor this week also signed an executive order that will help protect communities against hate violence and discrimination by accelerating the launch of a California versus Hate Resource Line and Network, among other actions.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Advertisement

Popular