California Victim Compensation Board April 16, 2020, Board Meeting Minutes
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session at the call Holly Pearson, Deputy Secretary and General Counsel for the California Government Operations Agency, sitting as designee by Secretary Yolanda Richardson, via conference call at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 10:03 a.m. Also present via conference call was Member Richard Chivaro, Deputy State Controller and Chief Counsel, acting for, and in the absence of, Betty T. Yee, Controller and Member Tubbs.
Interim Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill and Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong attended in person. Michelle Greer, Board Liaison, recorded the meeting in person.
Before starting the Board meeting, Chairperson Pearson introduced everyone to the new Government Operations Secretary, Yolanda Richardson, who started her position at the beginning of March. She is joining the meeting via conference call today, but Chairperson Pearson will still be chairing the meeting. Secretary Richardson will join the Board Members in closed session for a personnel matter.
The Board meeting commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Item 1. Approval of Minutes of the March 19, 2020, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the March 19, 2020, Board meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment. No one called in for comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Interim Executive Officer Ms. Gledhill updated the Board on a few items:
Telework – Stay at Home Order
CalVCB has worked very hard to make it so all staff can telework from home. CalVCB has minimal staff coming in on as needed basis. In all, we have not missed a beat in our work in helping victims of violent crimes. Wait times have dropped in our customer service section and our staff has processed 950 more applications than the previous month.
Stay at Home Order – Impact to Victims
CalVCB is actively sending out the resources for victims who may be isolated with their abuser. CalVCB also has sent out information regarding benefits and compensation specifically to domestic violence victims and children.
On April 24, 2020, the Butte County DA will unseal a grand jury indictment against PG&E who is expected to plead guilty to 87 counts of manslaughter, one count unlawfully causing a fire. This will allow victims to receive compensation. CalVCB is working closely with the Department of Finance and the Governor’s Office regarding the fiscal impact this will have on CalVCB.
April is Sexual Awareness Month and next week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Weeks. During this time CalVCB will continue to raise awareness about these various observances, which will be executed a little differently than was planned before the stay at home order. We encourage everyone to participate in Denim day on April 29, 2020.
Item 4. Contract Update
Interim Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill informed the Board of an item that needed their approval.
CalVCB wishes to higher Civilian Inc., to create, organize, and coordinate a comprehensive statewide public awareness campaign to enhance outreach to Californians regarding CalVCB’s programs, services, and CalVCB Online. Civilian Inc., shall develop and implement marketing strategies and tactics to produce a campaign for hard to reach California residents utilizing newsprint, local targeted print in languages other than English, digital, radio, trade and association publications, and/or transit/outdoor media. This funding is coming from a $2,000,000 grant that was awarded to us from Department of California Emergency Services to improve delivery services to victims. The contract is in the amount of $825,805.00.
Member Tubbs had a question about the contract. He asked how the Public Awareness Campaign plan was going to change with the stay at home order. Ms. Gledhill explained that CalVCB would be utilizing social media outlets, as well as translating our program into 14 different languages. CalVCB will work with the contractor along the way to see how the plan will change.
The Board approved the contract.
Item 5. Legislative Update
CalVCB Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong announced that there were no updates to present.
Item 6. Claim of Lawrence M. Martin (Pen. Code, § 4900 et seq.)
Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong presented the claim of Lawrence M. Martin.
On December 18, 2019, Lawrence M. Martin submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application was based on Martin’s 19- years imprisonment for a 1998 conviction for possession of a concealed dirk or dagger which was reversed on habeas corpus by the Santa Clara County Superior Court. The Santa Clara County Superior Court held that Martin’s pocket knife did not factually constitute a dirk or dagger because the blade was held open using a spring or friction and is closed by only applying pressure. For 76 days of his sentence, Martin was simultaneously incarcerated for a violation of tampering with a vehicle and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. Martin did not challenge the validity of either of these convictions.
Ms. Wong continued by saying that the Attorney General and Martin agree that Martin was entitled to a recommendation of compensation for 7,257 days of incarceration for possession of a concealed dirk or dagger out of his 7,332 total days of incarceration. Accordingly, the Proposed Decision recommends that the Legislature appropriate $1,015,980 as payment to Martin, representing $140 for each of the 7,257 days that he was wrongfully imprisoned for possession of a concealed dirk or dagger. Throughout these proceedings, Martin was represented by James A. Bryant II of The Cochran Firm, and the Attorney General was represented by Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers.
Chairperson Pearson asked if there was anyone who wished to address the Board on this matter. The Claimant’s attorney, James A. Bryant II, from The Cochran Firm, wished to address the Board via conference call. Mr. Bryant II thanked the Board for having their case heard that day. Mr. Bryant II also wanted to thank the Attorney General’s office for understanding how serious this case was.
Mr. Bryant II also wanted to thank the Hearing Officer who uncovered all of the information that he and the Attorney General’s office submitted. Mr. Martin then came on the phone and thanked everyone for their time and consideration for compensation.
Chairperson Pearson thanked Mr. Bryant II for his statement and asked if the Attorney General’s Office wished to make a statement. Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers said that he did. Mr. Bowers started off by thanking Mr. Bryant II for his kind words. He also said that the Proposed Decision was correct in all of its information.
The Board adopted the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision.
Item 7. Claim of Michelle Marie Poulos (Pen. Code, § 4900 et seq.)
Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong presented the claim of Michelle Marie Poulos. On January 17, 2019, Michelle Marie Poulos submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application was based upon Poulos’ fifteen-month imprisonment for a 2001 conviction for criminal threats, which was vacated with a finding of factual innocence in 2017, after the prosecution conceded it no longer had faith in the alleged victim’s credibility. Although Poulos had been simultaneously imprisoned for an unrelated conviction for methamphetamine possession, that conviction was dismissed in the interests of justice in 2019 because, had it not been for her erroneous criminal threats conviction, Poulos would have been eligible to participate in a rehabilitation program. The application was deemed timely filed on January 2, 2020, once the statutory amendment to Penal Code section 4901 that extended the deadline for submitting PC 4900 applications from two years following release to ten years following dismissal, took effect.
In response, Ms. Wong continued, the Attorney General conceded that Poulos was entitled to a recommendation of compensation for all 431 days of her erroneous incarceration for criminal threats, with no reduction for the period of time that she served for methamphetamine possession, as that conviction was no longer valid. Accordingly, the Proposed Decision recommends that the Legislature appropriate $60,340 as payment to Poulos, representing $140 for each of the 431 days that she was wrongfully imprisoned for criminal threats. Throughout these proceedings, Poulos was presented by Deirdre O’Connor of Seaums Law, and the Attorney General was represented by Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers.
Chairperson Pearson asked if there was anyone who wished to address the Board on the matter, to which Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers said yes.
He began by stating that the Proposed Decision by the Hearing Officer was correct it its entirety and should be adopted.
The Board adopted the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision.
Victim Compensation Program
The Board commenced the Victim Compensation Program portion of the meeting at 10:22 a.m.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Interim Executive Officer and Acting Chief Counsel at 10:23 a.m. to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-29 of the Victim Compensation Program. The Board will also discuss a personnel matter pursuant to Government Code section 1126 (a).
The Board reconvened into Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:24 a.m. No action was taken by the Board regarding the personnel matter and will be put on the agenda for a future Board meeting.
The Board adopted the hearing officer’s recommendations for proposed decision numbers 1-29 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:34 a.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 21st.