Skip to content

Sosan Madanat, a new graduate of Pacific McGeorge School of Law, helped persuade Sen. Mark Leno to carry a bill she developed. The proposal, which made it all the way to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, would make “junk” science grounds for an appeal in criminal cases.

  • Print

Four bills drafted by law students await signature-or veto

Sep 3, 2014

Among the hundreds of bills now awaiting California Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature – or veto – four have special significance to Marisa Shea and a handful of other Pacific McGeorge School of Law students.

The students originated the bills, found sponsors and lobbied the measures through the Legislature as part of an innovative new year-long class, the only one of its kind in California. But the problems that inspired the bills were anything but academic.

One was prompted by the case of a man who spent 30 years in prison for killing his wife, even though the scientific testimony that convicted him was discredited. Another responded to the case of an elderly woman who called police 30 times about her abusive son, to no avail.

 “I’m excited and nervous,” said Shea, who championed a “revenge porn” bill with fellow law student Christopher Wu. “Excited by the success the bill has had so far, but nervous knowing that despite that success, the decision is completely with the governor as to whether it will actually become law.”

Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the bills now on his desk. Californians will have these new rights and protections if he signs the McGeorge bills developed by Shea, Wu and classmates Sosan Madanat, Jacob Smith, Vincent Wiraatmadja, Lexi Howard, Kristina Brown and Aaron Briano:

Getting “revenge porn” off the Internet without going public: AB 2643, developed by Shea and Wu, would give victims of revenge porn the right to use a pseudonym when they file to have offensive material removed from the Internet. Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski of Fremont sponsored it with support from domestic violence groups.

Ability to appeal a conviction based on “junk” science: SB 1058 would give prison inmates the ability to get a new hearing if the expert testimony used to convict them later becomes discredited. A divided California Supreme Court last year issued a ruling that prohibited this. Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco carried the bill with support from the California Innocence Project. Madanat lobbied the bill.

Police trained in recognizing signs of elder abuse: AB 2623 would train peace officers to spot signs of elder abuse. Assemblyman Richard Pan of Sacramento introduced the measure. Smith and Wiraatmadja were the law student lobbyists.

Greater scrutiny of child care center job applicants: AB 2632 would prohibit the Department of Social Services from ignoring a job applicant’s arrest record in making hiring decisions for workers in state-licensed child care facilities. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego carried it, with support from the Children’s Advocacy Institute. Howard, Brown and Briano lobbied the bill.

A fifth bill, developed by students Fielding Greaves, Vignesh Ganapahty and Matthew Klopfenstein, made it out of the Assembly but failed in the Senate. Their bill, AB 2452, also carried by Assemblyman Pan, would have replaced California’s current paper registry for advanced health care directives with an electronic system.

Sosan Madanat, Kristina Brown and Lexi Howard
Sosan Madanat, Kristina Brown and Lexi Howard are  among the
Pacific McGeorge law students whose bills 
made it all the way
to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

“Four-for-five is a better record than some lobbyists,” said Chris Micheli, a McGeorge alumnus and member of the board of the Institute of Governmental Advocates, an association that represents professional lobbyists and lobbying firms in California’s Capitol. “It’s a tremendous amount of work to get as far as they have. It’s fantastic.”

McGeorge law professor Rex Frazier launched the new Legislative and Public Policy Clinic as a way to put students in real-world situations in the Capitol, lobbying, networking and getting to know potential future employers. Frazier, a lobbyist himself, also coaches students in creating plans to build support and media coverage, anticipating the opposition and identifying sympathetic legislators.

Shea had just finished an internship with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence when she and Wu got the assignment to draft a law.

The experience had made her aware that revenge porn victims, usually women, are often reluctant to ask a court to order that offensive material be taken off the Internet. Doing so means taking their plight public.

“Women don’t want their intimate images, their identifying information in the court record,” Shea said. “They don’t want anyone to learn that they have been a victim of this crime when they Google their names.”

Developing the measure required extensive research into existing law and extensive discussions with advocacy groups. Next came crafting language and convincing a legislator to introduce the law. And then the real work started.

Lobbying the measure through the Legislature meant drafting backgrounders for legislative staff, gathering support from sympathetic groups, orchestrating testimony, calling on members of key committees, and myriad other tasks entailed in turning an idea into a law.

Shea said the ride has been exciting, if sometimes nerve-wracking.

“We were really fortunate, because McGeorge is so connected to the Capitol,” she said. “And the students in the legislation clinic have really worked together and supported and helped each other. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Updates and additional information about the Legislative & Public Policy Clinic are available at http://blogs.mcgeorge.edu/lawandpolicy/.

About Pacific McGeorge

The University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law has grown into an internationally recognized leader in the field of legal education since its establishment nearly 90 years ago. Its location in Sacramento, the capital of California, has shaped its focus on public law, international law, and advocacy. The school is part of University of the Pacific’s colleges and schools, which offer acclaimed professional degree programs in dentistry and pharmacy as well as law – in addition to 80 undergraduate majors – on three Northern California campuses. For more information, visit www.mcgeorge.edu.

Media contact:
Claudia Morain | cmorain@pacific.edu | office: 209.946.2313 | cell: 209.479.9894

Join University of the Pacific on: Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Youtube