Meeting Minutes 7/21/22

California Victim Compensation Board

Open Meeting Minutes

July 21, 2022, Board Meeting


The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Gabriel Ravel, General Counsel of the Government Operations Agency, acting for, and in the absence of Amy Tong, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, at 400 R Street, Third Floor, Room 330, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, July 21, 2022, at 10:10 a.m.  Appearing via Zoom was Member Diana Becton, District Attorney, and Member Shawn Silva, 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.  Board Liaison, Andrea Burrell, was also present and recorded the meeting.

Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the May 19, 2022, Board Meeting

Member Becton moved approval of the Minutes for the May 19, 2022, Board Meeting.  The motion was seconded by Member Silva.  By unanimous vote, the Board approved the minutes of the May 19, 2022, 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

Executive Officer Gledhill updated the Board on several items:

To start, Ms. Gledhill reported that nearly all of the budget proposals impacting CalVCB that were part of the May Revise made their way into the final budget, which passed and was signed into law, and took effect on July 1.  Through the budget, benefit caps for three key expenses increased for the first time in 20 years.  The expense limits for funeral and burial increased from $7,500 to $12,818, relocation increased from $2,000 to $3,418, and crime scene cleanup increased from $1,000 to $1,709.

The higher limits apply to any new applications received on July 1st and after.  Ms. Gledhill noted that the increases were long overdue and their inclusion in the budget is great news for victims and certainly will help during these inflationary times. The budget also provides $23 million in additional funding for Trauma Recovery Centers.  This breaks down to $6.62 million to boost funding for current TRCs; $6.67 million in additional money for grant awards over the next three years; $5 million to establish a Regional TRC Pilot Program setting up satellite TRC offices in rural or underserved communities in the Central Valley and Northern California; $2.16 million for the 18 existing TRCs to provide flexible emergency cash assistance for victims for such costs as transportation, childcare, food, emergency shelter or other urgent expenses; $1.39 million for a three-year contract with the University of California Trauma Recovery Center Technical Assistance Program for technical assistance and training for CalVCB and TRCs; and $1.15 million in extra staffing for CalVCB to manage the increased workload.

The budget also allocates $3 million from the state Restitution Fund for CalVCB to conduct a media and outreach campaign.  CalVCB is very excited about the opportunity to build awareness about its program and its benefits.  This will fund a strategic, three-year campaign to target underserved populations and connect victims with the compensation and services they need.

CalVCB believes this campaign will help overcome traditional barriers that exist to accessing CalVCB in addition to those created by the pandemic.  CalVCB aims to build a solid foundation for outreach that it can expand upon once the campaign concludes.

CalVCB will hire a vendor to create and execute this campaign.  There will be more information about this as it moves through the process.

Finally, the budget also included money to bolster CalVCB’s information technology security infrastructure and to hire additional attorneys to handle the increase in erroneous conviction claims prompted by the passage of SB 446.

Aside from providing additional funding for CalVCB, the budget makes an important change in how CalVCB pays people who the Board determines have been erroneously convicted.  The process has been for the Board to make a recommendation to the Legislature on each approved PC 4900 claim.  The Legislature then in turn votes on the legislation to pay the claim, and a check is sent to the claimant if and when the legislation is passed and signed.

These claims are almost always approved, but the process can take many months, especially when the Legislature is not in session.

AB 200, one of the budget trailer bills, revised statute to direct CalVCB to make the payment for an approved PC 4900 claim immediately after the Board approves the claim.  The budget also allocated $7 million to CalVCB for these payments, with a provision to increase this amount upon order of the Department of Finance by the amount of any total unpaid claims.  Under AB 200, CalVCB will provide an annual summary of approved claims to the Legislature.  Also, AB 200 confirmed that CalVCB remains immune from damages for any decision rendered on a PC 4900 claim.

This change will allow these claimants to receive their compensation more quickly.  This was a change CalVCB sought as a way to improve the process and Ms. Gledhill expressed how pleased she is that it was part of the final budget.

Ms. Gledhill provided a related update on proposed regulations governing PC 4900 claims. Earlier this year, CalVCB officially commenced the rulemaking process to revise and amend its regulations governing PC 4900 claims in Sections 640 through 646 of Title 2, of the California Code of Regulations.

On April 1, the proposed regulations and related documents were submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), and published on CalVCB’s website.  Those documents included a revised form to submit PC 4900 claims to CalVCB.

After the initial 45-day public comment concluded, CalVCB determined that modifications were needed, and they were posted on CalVCB’s website on June 2.  Following a 15-day public comment, CalVCB was in the process of finalizing the proposed regulations as modified for Board approval when AB 200 became law. CalVCB determined that additional modifications were needed to the regulations and claim form as a result of AB 200, in order to replace references to “recommendation” with, instead, “approval of a claim….”  CalVCB posted this second round of modifications to the website on July 20th, and the 15-day public comment period expires on August 4th.  To date, no public hearing has been scheduled, and none has been requested.  CalVCB hopes to have a final version of the regulations ready to present for the Board’s approval at the September Board meeting.

Additionally, Ms. Gledhill mentioned that she attended the  Conference of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards in June in Alexandria, Virginia.  This was the first conference held in person in three years, and thus, her first conference as executive officer of CalVCB.  She mentioned she got a chance to meet and talk in person with colleagues from across the country, who are grappling with many of the same issues as CalVCB – decreases in restitution, questions about eligibility and how to reach more victims.  Ms. Gledhill stated it was powerful to hear from colleagues in New York and Texas so soon after large mass violence events in their states.

As part of the conference, Ms. Gledhill was elected to the Board of the organization.  Because California is the largest program in the country, it is important that we are actively engaged and participate in these national discussions.

Right now, the Federal Office of Victims of Crime at the US Department of Justice is considering updating the federal rules surrounding compensation and we are monitoring those discussions very closely.

Finally, Ms. Gledhill stated that CalVCB will continue its efforts to move to its new, permanent way of working.  CalVCB is transitioning to at home COVID testing after successfully administering testing in the office for the past 6 months.  CalVCB also had its telework agreement approved by the union partners and the Department of General Services.  The statewide telework form will be rolled out to CalVCB employees next month.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for the updates. He also congratulated her on her selection to the Board of the National Association.

Item 4. Legislative Update

The Legislative Update was provided by Deputy Executive Officer of the External Affairs Division, Andrew LaMar.

Mr. LaMar informed the Board that the Legislature is currently on summer recess and will be returning on August 1st for the final month of the legislative session.

Mr. LaMar provided updates on several bills that CalVCB is following:

  • SB 877, by Senator Eggman, which would authorize CalVCB to reimburse mental health providers who are licensed in states outside of California is currently on the Suspense File in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  The Suspense File will be heard by August 12th, when bills will either pass off the file and move to the floor or be held in committee.
  • SB 1468, by Senator Glazer, which is related to findings of factual innocence, is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 3rd, where it will be a candidate to be placed on the Suspense File. 
  • SB 993 by Senator Skinner, which would make many significant changes to CalVCB statutes, is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  However, the 2022-23 budget stated the intent of the Legislature to reconsider the changes proposed by this bill for potential inclusion in the 2024-25 budget, pending a determination in the spring of 2024 that General Fund money is available to support such changes.

Additionally, SB 632 by Senator Portantino, which would appropriate $4.5 million from the General Fund to pay five erroneous convicted claims approved by the Board at the March Board meeting was signed by the Governor this week.

Three additional claims were approved by the Board at the May Board meeting.  These claims could not be included in SB 632 and were approved before the Board was authorized to approve payment directly.  Upon the Legislature’s return, the appropriation to pay these claims will be amended into an existing bill to allow its passage before the end of the session.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. LaMar for the updates. 

Item 5. Contract Update

The Contract Update was provided by Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill.

Ms. Gledhill explained the Board would consider two items for approval at the meeting related to the Forced or Involuntarily Sterilization Compensation Program.  As part of the statute, the Department of State Hospitals and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must, in consultation with stakeholders, establish markers or plaques at designated sites that acknowledge the wrongful sterilization of thousands of vulnerable people.

These two contracts that are presented today for approval facilitate compliance with that part of the statute.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for her updates.  

Member Silva moved to approve the Executive Officer’s execution of items 1 and 2 of the Contract Report – the contract with the Department of State Hospitals in the amount of $450,000 and the contract with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the amount of $500,000.  The motion was seconded by Member Becton.  By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.

Item 6. Proposal to Amend Trauma Recovery Center Grant Awards

The Proposal to Amend Trauma Recovery Center Grant Awards, was presented by Deputy Executive Officer of the External Affairs Division, Andrew LaMar.

Mr. LaMar stated the state budget has provided $23 million in additional funding for Trauma Recovery Centers.  This will allow TRC’s to serve more victims of crime across California. 

Mr. LaMar explained that a Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) is an organization that helps victims of violent crime by providing trauma-informed services that include assertive outreach to underserved populations, comprehensive evidence-based mental health services, and coordinated care tailored to each victim’s needs.

CalVCB presently funds 18 TRCs through grants. The 2022-23 budget provided funding to do the following:  (1) increase support for lower funded TRCs; (2) add funding for future TRC grants; (3) establish a Regional TRC Pilot Program aimed at rural and underserved communities; (4) provide flexible emergency cash assistance for TRC clients; and (5) to execute a contract with the University of California Trauma Recovery Center Technical Assistance Program for technical assistance and training for TRCs and CalVCB.

This item asks for two Board actions:  (1) to approve amended grant agreements with 11 TRCs to increase their funding, as directed by the state budget, and (2) to authorize Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill to sign a contract with the UC TRC Technical Assistance Program, as directed by the legislation approving the state budget.

Finally, the amounts for the amended TRC contracts are listed in the agenda item.  The total amount of increased funding for them collectively is $6.62 million.  The contract with the Technical Assistance Program is currently being developed by staff.  The budget provides $1.39 million for a three-year contract.  This will be a deliverables-based contract that will include providing training to staff in all TRCs, assisting new TRCs and studying and identifying the need for TRC services throughout the state and how to best meet that need.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. LaMar for the updates. 

Member Becton moved to approve the amended TRC grant awards as recommended by staff.  The motion was seconded by Member Silva.  By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.

Member Silva moved to approve the Executive Officer’s execution of the contract with the University of California Trauma Recovery Center Technical Assistance Program in the amount of $1,390,000.  The motion was seconded by Member Becton.  By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.

Item 7. PC 4900 Claim No. 22-ECO-08, Edward Easley

This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Edward Easley.

On March 2, 2022, Edward Easley filed an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900.  The application was based upon Mr. Easley’s 1993 convictions for lewdly touching a child.  The convictions were vacated- and dismissed by the Shasta County Superior Court in August of 2017.

As there was no objection filed by the Office of the Attorney General, compensation is automatic under Penal Code section 4900 (b) and the proposed decision recommends compensation of $263,620, which represents $140 per day for the 1,883 days Mr. Easley was wrongfully imprisoned. Throughout the proceedings, Mr. Easley was represented by Paige Kaneb, of the Northern California Innocence Project.  The Attorney General’s Office was represented by Deputy Attorney General Jessica Leal.

Ms. Gauthier added the proposed decision on the last page recommends that if the decision is adopted by the Board, that the Legislature appropriate the money for payment of this claim.  This proposed decision was drafted and submitted prior to the new legislation (AB 200) that took effect giving CalVCB the authority to directly pay PC 4900 claims.  Therefore, Ms. Gauthier requested that the Board adopt the decision with the slight amendment that CalVCB pay the claim directly, assuming that appropriate funds are available and have been provided by the Legislature.

Chairperson Ravel asked that counsel for Mr. Easley address the Board first. Linda Star, the Director of the Northern California Innocence Project, spoke on behalf of Mr. Easley.  Ms. Star stated that they have been working on Mr. Easley’s case for 21 years and through changes in three separate laws.  She stated it took the courage of a young woman who persisted in telling the truth, risked the wrath of her family, and incurred the scorn and belittlement of law enforcement, but persisted.  She finished by stating Mr. Easley is only intent on establishing his innocence and having it publicly recognized.  Compensation will be a great assistance to him since he lives on a chicken farm in Cottonwood.  She thanked the Board and expressed her hope that compensation will be approved.  She also said they were thrilled that CalVCB could compensate claimants directly now, and it does not have to go through the Legislature.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Star for her comments.

Chairperson Ravel then asked if Mr. Easley would like to address the Board.

Mr. Easley, who appeared in-person, declined to comment.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. Easley for his appearance.

Chairperson Ravel then asked Ms. Leal for her comments on the matter.

Ms. Leal, who appeared via Zoom, agreed that compensation should be granted.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Leal for appearing before the Board. Member Silva moved to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision in the Penal Code section 4900 matter of Edward Easley, with the amendments as noted in accordance with the recent statutory changes to Penal Code section 4904 under Assembly Bill 200.  The motion was seconded by Member Becton.  The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the Proposed Decision was adopted.

Item 8. PC 4900 Claim No. 18-ECO-25, Lamont Tarkington

This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Lamont Tarkington. On September 27, 2018, Lamont Tarkington submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900.  The application was based on Mr. Tarkington’s 2007 convictions for five counts of second-degree robbery and one count of second-degree commercial burglary, which were vacated on state habeas for ineffective assistance of counsel.  The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office elected to retry Mr. Tarkington, but the case was dismissed pursuant to Penal Code section 1382 after the prosecution announced it was unable to proceed. 

Mr. Tarkington seeks compensation for 4,556 days of imprisonment in the amount of $637,840.

While the claim was under consideration with CalVCB, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 446.  Senate Bill 446 included the addition of subdivision (b) to Penal Code section 4900, which shifted the burden of persuasion for cases like Tarkington’s, whose underlying convictions were vacated during a habeas proceeding and dismissed on remand.  Both parties agreed, as did the Hearing Officer, that newly amended Penal Code section 4900, subdivision (b) and corresponding amendments applied to Tarkington’s claim and if the Office of the Attorney General chose to object to compensation, the Office of the Attorney General bears the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Tarkington committed the acts constituting the offense.

The Office of the Attorney General objected to the claim and waived further hearing, submission of additional evidence, and briefing, and submitted on the record.  Mr. Tarkington’s counsel also waived further hearing, raising new arguments, and submission of additional evidence and submitted on the record.

In accordance with California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 619.4, subdivision ©, a schedule was established for the submission of written argument after the proposed decision was mailed to the parties.  Claimant’s counsel submitted written argument, which was followed by a response from the Office of the Attorney General and claimant’s counsel’s reply to the Office of the Attorney General.  All of these materials were provided to the Board for their review, as well as the proposed decision, which recommends denial of the claim as the Attorney General met its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Tarkington robbed the Bank of America.

Throughout the proceedings, Mr. Tarkington was represented by Leo Terrell along with Tony Su from the Law Offices of Leo Terrell.  The Attorney General’s Office was represented by Deputy Attorney General Dina Petrushenko and Deputy Attorney General Jessica Leal.

Mr. Terrell, Mr. Su, and Ms. Leal were all in attendance.

Chairperson Ravel asked that counsel for Mr. Tarkington address the Board first. Mr. Terrell, who appeared in person, started by introducing his co-counsel Mr. Su who presented the argument.  Mr. Su stated that with the change in the law, the Attorney General did not meet their burden of proof and did not provide clear and convincing evidence that Lamont Tarkington committed the crime.  The importance in this case is the Court of Appeals’ finding that the main detective that investigated this case was not truthful.  The main detective exaggerated the existence of bank dye on a t-shirt that was found in Lamont Tarkington’s car.  Mr. Su asked the Board to consider the credibility of that main detective and how he tainted the entire case and how the Attorney General relied on evidence that the Court of Appeals already found did not connect Lamont to the crime.

Mr. Su, concluded by urging the Board to approve Mr. Tarkington’s claim and to not follow the decision by the Hearing Officer to deny Lamont’s claim.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. Su for his comments.

Chairperson Ravel confirmed that Mr. Tarkington was not in attendance.

Chairperson Ravel then asked Ms. Leal for her comments on the matter.

Ms. Leal, who appeared via Zoom, stated the Attorney General’s Office has thoroughly addressed Mr. Tarkington’s claim of the untruthfulness of the detective in this case and the evidence that is addressed by the Attorney General and the four responses, and the Hearing Officer’s proposed decision summarized clear and convincing evidence that proves Mr. Tarkington committed the robbery of Bank of America. 

The Attorney General requested that the proposed decision be adopted.

Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Leal for appearing before the Board.

Member Silva moved to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision in the Penal Code section 4900 matter of Lamont Tarkington.  The motion was seconded by Member Becton.  The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the Proposed Decision was adopted.

Closed Session

The Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:33 a.m. pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-142 of the Victim Compensation Program.

Open Session

The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code sections 11126(a) and 11126(c)(3) at 10:40 a.m.

Member Silva moved to approve items 1 through 142, and to adopt proposed decision numbers 1-142, of the Victim Compensation Program.  Member Becton seconded the motion.  The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the proposed decisions were adopted.

Adjournment

Member Becton moved adjournment of the July Board meeting.  Member Silva seconded the motion.  The motion was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Board and the meeting was adjourned at 10:42 a.m.

Next Board Meeting

The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 15, 2022.

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