Take A Letter – Legislative Intent

Take a letter – legislative intent

The California Legislature and the Governor have wrapped up this session’s business; passing and signing bills including a number of newsworthy laws – AB 5, dealing with the status of employees and independent contractors, AB 1482, California’s “anti-rent-gouging bill”, and SB 206 on student athlete compensation and representation authored by Alameda County’s own State Senator, Nancy “Nancy Cares About Athletes” Skinner.

From a legal research perspective, an interesting aspect of the last session has been noted in an article from Capitol Weekly, “Take a Letter – to the Legislature’s Journal.”   The article’s author, Chris Mitchell, points to a growing trend in Sacramento of the use of letters of intent published in the Daily Journals of the Assembly and Senate – letters which contain language that reference legislative intent in an attempt to substitute for making bill amendments.  Mitchell states that this new phenomenon seems to be growing due to amendment restrictions that were imposed by 2016’s Proposition 54 which effectively prevents bills from being amended in the final three days of the session.

Mitchell’s article discusses the history of the courts’ rulings on the use of letters of intent.  It will be interesting to see in the future how the courts react to this expanded use of the letters.

Guiding patrons seeking support for their legal arguments in the area of legislative research – helping them understand the difference between resources for legislative history and those for legislative intent – is just one of the information services provided by county law librarians.

See the Legislative Counsel’s Digests in the bill text links above and the language of intent stated in Section 1 of SB 206 for examples of intent.

New Service At Alameda County Law Library – US Passport Application Acceptance

Alameda County Law Library Now Accepts Passport Applications – By Appointment Only

Oakland, CA, September 16, 2019

Alameda County Law Library is pleased to announce that it now accepts passport applications on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for Passport Books and Passport Cards.  U.S. citizens planning international travel may make Passport application appointments at Alameda County Law Library Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 12:30 pm and Saturday 9:30 am – 11:30 am.  The Law Library is located at 125 12th St. Oakland, CA 94607.

Appointments may be made online through the Law Library’s website at http://lawlibrary.acgov.org from the “Fee Services” drop-down menu, or by phone at (510) 272-6483.

No walk-in appointments.  We do not accept Passport renewal applications, or offer Passport photography services at this time.

For application forms, information on documentation required, fees, and other passport and international travel information, visit the official website for passport information – https://passports.state.gov


About Alameda County Law Library:

The Alameda County Law Library is a 501(c)(3) organization and a local agency established under California Business and Professions Code §6300-6365.

Alameda County Law Library is a public law library.  The Law Library provides equitable access to legal information materials to self-represented litigants, legal professionals, and others engaged in legal research or the preparation of legal documents.  Professional law librarians are available to help patrons use the library’s print materials and legal databases effectively.

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Contact Emily Bergfeld at 510-272-6481 or email: emily.bergfeld@acgov.org


End Of The Session – California Legislative Information

End of the session

The California Legislature is wrapping up its current legislative session.  Bills have been sent to the Governor to await his signature.  A number of these bills involve contentious topics in our society and have made the national news.  California has moved into the vanguard for issues involving the legal status of workers in the gig economy and athletes in the billion-dollar school sports organization complexes.  Also awaiting final action are bills amending the laws on state rent control and automatic expungement of certain criminal records.

It seems to be a good time of the year to discuss the most comprehensive source of California legislative bill tracking.  The state site, California Legislative Information, also referred to as LegInfo, is a free, public site providing a wealth of information including a bill’s versions, votes, history, and official bill analysis.   Searching capabilities include bill number search and text search.  The site also has a bill tracking function.  Coverage goes back to the 1999 – 2000 legislative session.

The site also contains under the tab, California Law, current text of all California Code titles including the California Constitution.  Searching can be done by section number and text search.

The Alameda County Law Library has other resources for California legislative research.  Westlaw has files for current session enacted legislation and files for historical enacted legislation back to 1987.  Lexis has California full text bills back to 1991.  ACLL also has a selection of California legislative history materials in a number of formats.  An ACLL professional legal reference librarian can help you identify and locate resources.

Here is a selection of recent articles on new California bills making the news:

New Bill Clears Path for Freelance Attorney Independent Contractor StatusThe Recorder, 9/11/19. (AB 5)

“Bill to Help Scrub Records of Low-level Offenders Hits Newsom’s Desk.” Courthouse News Service. 9/10/19. (AB 1076)

California Lawmakers Vote to Undo N.C.A.A, Amateurism.” The New York Times 9/11/19.  Bill was introduced by Alameda County State Senator Nancy Skinner.  Article contains interview with her. (SB 206)

Contempt Of Court

Utter contempt

The TV news trucks and camera crews have disappeared from ACLL’s neighborhood, here at the intersection of Oak Street and 12th in downtown Oakland.  The news staffs are no longer hovering because the jury in the Ghost Ship Trial (AC Superior Ct. No. 17-CR-017349 A/B)* is on hiatus from deliberations until after Labor Day.  The sidewalks, no-parking areas, and curbside planted areas around the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse are no longer occupied throughout the day.  No longer is anyone on standby waiting for the announcement of the verdict in the involuntary manslaughter (CA Penal Code 192(b)) trial of Max Harris and Derick Almena related to a fire in an Alameda County structure that resulted in the deaths of 36 people.

Recently, the judge in the case removed and replaced three jurors for reasons not yet made public. Reports state that the judge is considering bringing contempt charges against the dismissed jurors.

“Contempt” is a common English word, in use since the 14th century – the act or state of despising.  It is also used in legal contexts.  For anyone wishing to research legal topics in the news, Alameda County Law Library is here.  ACLL’s mission is to provide equitable access to legal information materials to our county – self-represented litigants, legal professionals, and others engaged in legal research or the preparation of legal documents.  A professional law librarian can help you navigate our print and digital collections.

For the legal uses of “contempt”, Black’s Law Dictionary gives you definitions for the term and its use in legal phrases.  CEB’s California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice, one of the most useful California criminal law practice guides, contains Chapter 58 on contempt.  One section (§58.5) reviews California’s code provisions found in the Code of Civil Procedure, CCP §1209(a), which state behaviors relating to jurors.

  • Disobedience by a juror of a court admonishment related to the prohibition on any form of communication or research about the case, including all forms of electronic or wireless communication or research;  …
  • Unlawfully failing to attend or serve as a juror after having been summoned;
  • While serving as juror, improperly conversing with a party to an action to be tried at the court, or with any other person, in relation to the merits of the action, or receiving a communication from a party or other person in respect to the action, without immediately disclosing it to the court; …

Or, a library user might wish to research law reviews and articles using HeinOnline to find articles such as, “Preventing Juror Misconduct in a Digital World” by Thaddeus Hoffmeister, Juries and Lay Participation: American Perspectives and Global Trends, 90 Chicago-Kent Law Review 981 (2015).

The public will have to wait to find out more about what might happen to the former Ghost Ship jurors.  But legal researchers are able to start research at ACLL during our business hours – MWF 8:30 am – 4:30 pm | Tues, Thurs 8:30 am – 7:30 pm | Sat 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

For more information or assistance in researching legal topics, contact the ACLL reference staff at 510-208-4832.

Grey Is The New Red.  Lexis Has A New Look.

Grey is the new red.  Lexis has a new look.

When using Lexis Advance at ACLL on one of our public computers, you might notice that the Lexis home screen has a new look.

Changes include:

  • No more Big Red Box, instead, small subtle grey boxes.  On the Lexis Home page, you will find one box for entering search terms, next to another for selecting a category of resource, and a final box that allows you to limit your search by jurisdiction.  Move down the line and click on the magnifying glass icon to start your search.
  • In the first box, experienced searchers can type a quick search.  One such search – “shep: [citation]” – allows you to quickly and easily Shepardize a case or code section.
  • The Advance Search screen is still available by clicking the More Options button.  Advance Search provides fields to guide you in building your search statement.
  • Because the ACLL Lexis subscription is a shared subscription, you will not be able to save your personal preferences.

If you need help, the ACLL law librarians are here to assist you.

Basic black letter law always available.

As always, codes and cases are available.  Lexis is an official publisher for a number of important California legal sources including appellate case reporters.

ACLL’s subscription does not include access to all Lexis files, but we do have many useful, searchable resources beyond cases and codes — including California practice guides and California administrative agency decisions.  Lexis covers many state agency publications.  Here is a listing:

  • Insurance Bulletins & Notice
  • WCAB Noteworthy Panel Decisions
  • Board of Equalization Opinions
  • Department of Corporations Decisions
  • Div. Labor Standards Enf. Policies & Interp. Manual
  • Fair Employment & Housing Commission
  • Franchise Tax Board Chief Counsel Rulings
  • Franchise Tax Board Decisions
  • Franchise Tax Board Information Letters
  • Franchise Tax Board Technical Advice Memorandums
  • State Bar Court Decision
  • State Campaign Finance Receipts
  • State Water Resources Control Board
  • Agricultural Labor Relations Board
  • Alcohol Beverage Control Appeals Board
  • Department of Financial Institutions Releases
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Opinion Letters
  • Market Conduct Examinations
  • Public Employment Relations Board
  • State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct
  • State Personnel Board of the State of California

Check for years of coverage for the individual files.