California Victim Compensation Board December 17, 2020, Board Meeting Minutes
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, who was present via zoom, on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 10:03 a.m. Also present via Zoom was Member Richard Chivaro, Deputy State Controller and Chief Counsel, acting for, and in the absence of, Betty T. Yee, Controller.
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill, and Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier attended in person at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California. Legal Secretary, Andrea Burrell, was also present and recorded the meeting.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the November 19, 2020, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the November 19, 2020, Board meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment and Ms. Burrell reminded everyone that, consistent with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, items not on the agenda may not be discussed at this time but may be put on a future agenda. (Gov. Code § 11125.7.)
There was no public comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Chief Executive Officer Ms. Gledhill updated the Board on a few items:
Ms. Gledhill welcomed the Board members to the final Board Meeting of 2020 and noted it has been a year unlike any other. She also reminded the members that starting in January, the Board will be meeting every other month.
Deputy Executive Officer of the IT Division
Executive Officer Gledhill announced the hiring of a new Deputy Executive Officer of the Information Technology Division. His name is John Cramer, and he started at CalVCB on Monday. John comes from the Community Services and Development Department, where he was the CIO for nearly four years. Prior to that, John worked at the California Department of Technology, the Lottery, Child Support Services, and Hewlett Packard before coming to the state. CalVCB is delighted to have John on board, especially as we work toward building a new website and in light of the critical role IT has in our organization, with nearly all staff teleworking. CalVCB now has all the deputy division positions filled. Having a full team is just one of the reasons I am excited about what we can accomplish in the new year.
Thank You and Reflection
Ms. Gledhill reflected that it has been almost a year since she assumed the role of Executive Officer. She thanked the Board, everyone at CalVCB and GovOps, and the Governor’s Office for their support and display of trust in her abilities.
Year End Organizational Notes
Ms. Gledhill noted the following organizational accomplishments in 2020:
- Focus on assisting victims of crime
- Improved application processing times
- Transitioned nearly all staff to teleworking
- Hired a strong new leadership team
- Reorganized the agency to increase efficiency and functionality
- Undertook big new initiatives, including redesigning CalVCB’s website, updating the strategic plan, and boosting employee engagement
Ms. Gledhill acknowledged there is much more work to be done, as we strive to make CalVCB a model agency and a well-known and reputable leader in providing victim assistance in California. With the public focused on social and racial justice issues and increasingly aware of victims of all types, she stated it is imperative that CalVCB does its job well and serve as a resource to others. She indicated this will be continued focus for CalVCB in 2021.
Chair Richardson congratulated Ms. Gledhill on her one year of employment with CalVCB. She also agreed with Ms. Gledhill’s statement of it being an unprecedented year and wanted to thank her and the team for continuing to focus on CalVCB’s mission and service to the community.
Member Chivaro asked Ms. Gledhill what percentage of employees are teleworking currently. She said that it is, on average, approximately 90%, however, due to the updated Stay at Home orders, the numbers are higher than that for at least the three weeks of the most recent stay at home order. Ms. Gledhill noted that CalVCB is looking at a long-term telework strategy.
Item 4. CalVCB Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2019-20
Chief Executive Officer Ms. Gledhill presented the CalVCB Annual Report for FY 2019-20.
Ms. Gledhill noted that the accomplishments outlined in the CalVCB Annual Report, which covers fiscal year 2019-2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) were shared with her predecessor, Julie Nauman, who led the organization for 6 months of the reporting period before her retirement.
She shared the following highlights from the Annual Report:
Big Picture: CalVCB processed 50,669 applications during this time, which was down 4.3 percent from fiscal year 2018-19. Compensation was also down to $58,688,494, a 5.1 percent decrease in fiscal year 2019-2020 from 2018-19 (when it was $61,881,454). Some of this may be related to the stay-at-home order, during which CalVCB saw a decrease in applications.
Application Statistics: For types of applications, assault was the most common, with just over 21,000 (21,016); second was child abuse (9,872); and third was homicide (5,398), followed closely by sexual assault. These categories are consistent with what we have seen in previous years.
Compensation Statistics: As for compensation by crime type, assault was the highest at nearly $26,500,000 ($26,491,424,66), followed by Homicide at $13,421,230.81; and Child Abuse at $5,032,796.60.
Organizational Chart: Ms. Gledhill shared with the Board the organizational chart reflecting the changes as of July 1, 2020, just after the time-period covered by the Annual Report. She indicated that organizational changes were made to increase efficiency and functionality, and to better structure personnel based on program needs. She reported that over the last 6 months, this reorganization has been working well.
Change/Response: In mid-March when the pandemic hit, it changed our lives fundamentally. When the Governor issued a stay-at-home order, CalVCB moved quickly to shift employees from the office to telework from home. Some employees were temporarily shifted to other CalVCB units to process paperwork and answer calls. Other changes also included: An increase in CalVCB Online applications (they now make up a little less than half of all applications submitted); changes to telehealth, including now allowing all medical and mental health telehealth sessions billed while the stay-at-home order is in effect, without an exemption; and, early inmate releases, which included CalVCB providing information about compensation to victims, whose crimes occurred more than 7 years ago.
Ms. Gledhill acknowledged CalVCB staff and the work they do on behalf of victims of crime and noted that during the time of this annual report, they saw nearly a complete turnover in executive staff, a new chair of the Board, and of course, contended with the Covid-19 pandemic.
There were no questions. Chair Richardson thanked Ms. Gledhill again for all her hard work.
Item 5. Derrick Harris (Pen. Code, §§ 4900, et seq.)
This item was presented by Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier.
On October 28, 2020, Derrick Harris applied to CalVCB for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application was based on Mr. Harris’ seven plus years’ imprisonment for the 2013 convictions of second-degree robbery and related charges, which were vacated on habeas based on newly discovered evidence that demonstrated Mr. Harris’ factual innocence of the crimes. At the request of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, a finding of factual innocence was issued on October 6, 2020. In light of this binding determination, the Proposed Decision recommended that the Legislature appropriate $379,540.00 as payment to Mr. Harris, representing $140 for each of the 2,711 days he was wrongfully imprisoned.
Mr. Harris’ attorney, Michael Semanchik of the California Innocent Project, appeared via teleconference. He reiterated that Derrick Harris received a factual finding of innocence, which entitles him to automatic compensation from the Board. He noted this was warranted in his case due to the District Attorney’s exhaustive investigation. Not only did they go and talk to and gain confessions from the true perpetrators, but they also went and talked to additional witnesses who confirmed that it was not Derrick who was responsible for this crime. Due to that investigation, they agreed to reverse and dismiss the conviction as well as agreed to the finding of factual innocence and the Los Angeles Superior Court signed off on all of that.
Mr. Semanchik also described Mr. Harris’ current situation and the importance to him of receiving compensation for his wrongful conviction. He described how Mr. Harris missed some of the best years of his son’s life, as well as his own. His son was two when Mr. Harris went to prison, and when he was released, his son was nine years old. So, he has come out trying to resume caring for his son and of course in those seven years he has not had a job, therefore he has no funds. He stated that these funds will help Mr. Harris his son to get back on their feet. Finally, Mr. Semanchik expressed his appreciation to the Board for how quickly it moved to make the recommendation for payment of this claim and thanked the Board members for their time.
Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers appeared via teleconference and encouraged the Board to adopt the proposed decision.
The motion to approve the Proposed Decision in the PC section 4900 matter of Derrick Harris passed by a unanimous vote of the Board.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:19 a.m., to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-51 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:28 a.m.
The Board adopted the Hearing Officers’ recommendations for proposed decision numbers 1-51 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 21, 2021.