California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
November 18, 2021, 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 Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, via Zoom, on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at 10:01 a.m. Also present 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, Michelle Greer, was also present and recorded the meeting.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the September 23, 2021, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the September 23, 2021, Board meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment and Ms. Greer 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.)
Ms. Petros asked to speak before the Board. Ms. Petros asked that a policy be put into place requiring a response to inquiries within a reasonable time frame. She suggested 48 to 72 hours for a reply would be reasonable. She stated that employees and management should not be able to ignore voicemails or emails. She stated that the Victim Compensation Program needs to be more transparent with victims and the public on all decisions made on claims. A specific example that she provided is where letters go out to victims, but those letters do not include the name of the staff person who made the decision or any contact information. She feels that this is very important to have, whether it is coming from headquarters or a local Victim Witness program at the county. Victims and victim advocates should be able to know who is making the decision and be able to contact them directly.
Ms. Petros continued by noting that she has been told a claim specialist’s name and contact information cannot be shared for security reasons. She would like to know those security reasons because the program is here to help the public and serve victims. She stated that CalVCB should not be afraid of victims.
Ms. Petros concluded her comments by requesting more transparency in published statistics. Specifically, she indicated it would be helpful to know the exact amount of funeral and burial claims submitted, where they were submitted from, and which claims were denied or paid out. Another example she provided was specific information regarding support loss claims for children versus adults in murder cases. She would like to use the information and data to make comparisons to the number of murders in the state and see if we are helping victims in the eligible categories.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Petros for her comments to the Board and indicated his understanding of her comments on transparency.
There was no additional public comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Executive Officer Gledhill updated the Board on several items:
First, Ms. Gledhill welcomed the newest member of CalVCB’s executive team, Sarah Keck. Ms. Keck is CalVCB’s Deputy Executive Officer for the Administration Division and is joining CalVCB from CalRecycle, where she held the title of Deputy Director of the Administration, Finance and IT Services Division. Ms. Keck also previously held the position of chief financial officer for CalRecycle for six years. In her time at CalRecycle, Ms. Gledhill continued, Ms. Keck oversaw almost every aspect of finance for the department.
Ms. Gledhill then reminded the Board that CalVCB staff have been almost entirely teleworking since the beginning of the pandemic. The CalVCB executive team had originally planned to bring staff back into the office a minimum of one day a week under a new telework policy at the beginning of September but delayed that due to the need to acquire testing supplies and concerns about the Delta variant. CalVCB employees are now scheduled to begin returning to the office weekly at the beginning of January.
Next, Ms. Gledhill reminded the Board that, consistent with recently passed legislation, on January 1, CalVCB will be launching the Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program. Executive Officer Gledhill explained that CalVCB staff has been hard at work getting this ready for launch and the Board members will hear more about that work as part of the contract report.
The Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program provides compensation to survivors of state-sponsored sterilization conducted pursuant to eugenics laws that existed in the State of California between 1909 and 1979 and to survivors of coerced sterilizations performed on people in California prisons after 1979.
In all, $7.8 million has been appropriated for the program, with $4.5 million provided to directly compensate the victims. It is estimated that approximately 600 survivors of forced sterilization are still alive today and may be eligible for compensation.
Consistent with the statute, on January 1, CalVCB will begin accepting applications for compensation. The program is scheduled to end in 2024. The application and other information will be available on the CalVCB website before the January 1 launch date. CalVCB is required to report on this program annually to lawmakers and the Board will be provided with periodic updates as well.
Finally, Ms. Gledhill concluded by noting that she was coming up on two years as the Executive Officer of CalVCB and reported on some of the accomplishments during her tenure. The CalVCB annual report, which covers the fiscal year from July 2020 to July 2021, reflects a full year of Ms. Gledhill’s leadership at CalVCB. This report was posted on the CalVCB website in October and is a snapshot of what CalVCB has accomplished.
A few highlights she shared with the Board included:
- CalVCB received 40,640 applications and made $52.7 million in payments for victims.
- CalVCB dramatically improved efficiency. CalVCB cleared a backlog of 13,000 unassigned applications and reduced processing times by more than 40 percent.
- CalVCB boosted access and outreach by launching a new, modern, easy-to-use website and re-establishing the CalVCB Advisory Committee to connect with stakeholders.
- CalVCB also developed a strategic plan, updated the workforce strategic plan and created an employee recognition program to foster a culture of excellence.
- Lastly, CalVCB undertook several initiatives to keep employees engaged and committed to the mission while still mostly teleworking from home.
Ms. Gledhill stated that she was proud of what CalVCB has been able to do but acknowledged there will always be more to do to as CalVCB continues to work to improve services and support for victims.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for the updates and also welcomed Ms. Keck to the CalVCB Executive team.
Item 4. Legislative Update
The Legislative update was provided by Deputy Executive Officer of the Policy, Outreach and Grants Division, Andrew Lamar.
Mr. LaMar started by reminding the Board that the legislature is out of session.
Since the Board’s last meeting, the Governor signed SB 446, which changes the process for reviewing and approving some erroneously convicted felon claims. Under the new law, CalVCB expects more erroneous conviction claims to be filed and approved.
Mr. Lamar continued by stating that the Governor signed the budget bill, SB 170, which appropriated $300,000 for CalVCB to contract with the Los Angeles based community organization, The Alliance for a Better Community. The contract is for the study of and additional outreach to eligible claimants for the Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program. CalVCB is working with the Alliance to coordinate all outreach efforts.
Mr. Lamar concluded by updating the Board on a newly signed budget trailer bill, AB 177, which eliminates administrative fees that fund the cost of collecting restitution. The Department of Finance has informed CalVCB that the State budget will include money for the entities that will lose funding from the eliminated fess, thereby supporting the restitution collection work done by those agencies.
Item 5. Contract Update
Executive Officer Gledhill updated the Board on several contracts:
Ms. Gledhill began by letting the Board know that the second item listed on the contract report had been removed from the agenda.
The remaining two contracts that needed to be approved both related to the Forced and Involuntary Sterilization Program.
The first contract, Ms. Gledhill explained, is an Interagency Agreement with the Department of State Hospitals in the amount of $573,333.80. This contract runs from January 1, 2022, through February 29, 2024. The contract is to assist State Hospitals with finding and sharing records related to state-sponsored sterilization to assist CalVCB in identifying potential victims entitled to compensation.
The second contract is for $280,000 and will run through 2023. This contract is for CalVCB’s statewide outreach campaign related to the Forced and Involuntary Sterilization Program. Ms. Gledhill noted that the bill that established the program and the budget language specifically earmarked funds to be utilized for outreach to potential victims. This contract is currently in the solicitation process but will be executed to reflect the terms and amount listed on the contract report. The contract is set to begin January 1, 2022, which is before the next Board meeting, and this is why CalVCB is seeking approval now.
The Board approved the requested contracts.
Item 6. PC 4900 Claim No. 19-ECO-08, Shawn Young
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Shawn Young.
On April 15, 2019, Shawn Young submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application is based upon Mr. Young’s 2014 convictions for 7 counts of sexual assault of 3 minor victims, which occurred in 2013. These convictions were overturned by the State appellate court and the case was remanded for retrial. On retrial in 2019, Mr. Young was found not guilty on all counts. The Proposed Decision recommends denying the application as the Hearing Officer found that Mr. Young had not met his burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence showing he was more likely innocent than guilty.
Throughout these proceedings Mr. Young represented himself, and the Attorney General’s Office was represented by Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Poe.
Chairperson Ravel indicated that Mr. Young should address the Board first. Mr. Young, who appeared via conference call, started by saying that he didn’t have much to say that would make any sense to anyone that was not familiar with his situation of being found not guilty, which means ultimately that you are not guilty and that you had been wrongfully incarcerated for 6 years. He continued by stating that he had a jury of his peers, the process that we are supposed to go through in the United States of. He then stated that he was not sure what more he could add or what burden of proof he could provide to prove his innocence other than the fact that the jury found him not guilty. He then said that he felt that he could not defend himself anymore than what was done in court because it was the basis of him saying that he didn’t do the things he was accused of doing.
He continued stating he was at a loss and could not understand the denial of his application, or the entire process, which is frustrating and heartbreaking to him. He also said that he has been denied work due to his name still being listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, which he has taken up with the State of California to prove that he should not be on that registry, which he is still waiting for a response back from that entity.
Mr. Young concluded by stating that he felt that the denial of his application was harmful to him and very wrong and that it was also harmful and wrong to the people that support him and believed him.
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. Young for speaking before the Board.
Mr. Ravel then asked Ms. Poe to address the Board.
Ms. Jennifer Poe from the Office of the Attorney General appeared via conference call and urged the Board to adopt the proposed decision. Ms. Poe pointed out that the Proposed Decision in this case, while lengthy, was impressive and a fair presentation of the facts. She noted that the Hearing Officer did a good job laying out the facts presented. not only in the exhibits that were submitted by both parties and the entire record of the two trials, but also the evidence that was submitted during the actual hearing. The decision also accurately states the applicable law in this case and applies the law to the facts as they were presented, again both in the written documentary evidence and at the hearing. Ms. Poe continued by saying that she felt the Hearing Officer came to the correct conclusion that the Claimant has not met his burden. The decision in this case revolves around a credibility determination and that is where the facts in this case really come into play and are very important to be considered.
Ms. Poe then addressed the Claimant’s issue or misunderstanding with his acquittal and the relevance to his claim. The acquittal in the second trial was not determinative. The burden for this PC section 4900 claim is to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Claimant was innocent, which is separate and apart from a determination that a Prosecutor has not met his burden to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why the Hearing Officer in this case correctly found that the acquittal in the second trial was not dispositive to Mr. Young’s claim before the Board.
Ms. Poe concluded by saying that, overall, CalVCB has a Proposed Decision that has been carefully crafted and is responsive to all the issues raised by the Claimant, both in his claim and at his hearing. The Attorney General’s Office urged the Board to deny this claim and deny compensation.
Mr. Ravel thanked Ms. Poe for appearing before the Board.
The Board adopted the Proposed Decision.
Item 7. PC 4900 Claim No. 20-ECO-06, Alice Waterman
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Alice Waterman.
On April 20, 2020, Alice Waterman submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application is based upon Ms. Waterman’s 2014 convictions for six counts of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson. Two of the counts for arson were vacated by the Court of Appeal at the State level for insufficient evidence. The Proposed Decision recommends denying the application as the Hearing Officer found that Ms. Waterman had not met her burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence showing she is more likely innocent than guilty of her vacated convictions.
Throughout these proceedings, Ms. Waterman represented herself, and the Office of the Attorney General was represented by Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers.
Mr. Ravel indicated that Ms. Waterman should address the Board first. Ms. Waterman, who appeared via Zoom, started by stating that she was not asking for the total amount of money for the entire amount of time that she served, as she does understand that she was found guilty of some of the charges. However, due to the Appellate Court’s decision taking so long, she was already released from incarceration when her two convictions were overturned. Ms. Waterman reiterated that she was only asking for the amount of money that represented the time she overserved, which was 465 days. In Ms. Waterman’s opinion, if the Appellate Court overturned two of her charges, that does show innocence of at least the two charges that were overturned.
Ms. Waterman continued by stating that she does not understand how or why the Board would deny compensation for the days that she is requesting. In the actual trial, there was no real evidence, it was all circumstantial; there was no DNA, no video, no pictures, there was nothing presented. In the transcripts of the original trial, there were investigating officers and Captains at CalFIRE admitting that they changed the report because their superiors told them to, so that it fit her case. She thanked the Board for a chance to speak.
Ms. Waterman concluded that she felt that she was innocent and would continue to deny these charges.
Mr. Ravel thanked Ms. Waterman for appearing before the Board.
Mr. Barton Bowers from the Office of the Attorney General appeared via conference call and indicated that the facts in the Proposed Decision are supported by the exhibits submitted in this case. The law in the Proposed Decision is correct and it is correctly applied. There is no other evidence the Board needs to consider before rendering an opinion. Mr. Bowers concluded by urging the Board to adopt the Proposed Decision.
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. Bowers for appearing before the Board.
The Board adopted the Proposed Decision.
Item 8. PC 4900 Claim No. 19-ECO-16, Guy Miles
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Guy Miles.
On June 20, 2019, Guy Miles submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application is based upon Mr. Miles’ 1999 convictions for two counts of robbery and one count of possessing a firearm. In 2017, the Appellate Court vacated all three of Mr. Miles’ convictions. Upon remand, Miles pled guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of possessing a firearm in exchange for time served. The Proposed Decision recommends compensation in the amount of $965,300, which represents $140 a day for the 6,895 days he was wrongfully imprisoned.
Throughout these proceedings Mr. Miles was represented by Brook Barnes of Procopio Cory Hargreaves & Savitch, and the Office of the Attorney General was represented by Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers.
Mr. Ravel indicated that counsel for Mr. Miles should address the Board first. Mr. Barnes, who appeared via Zoom, thanked the Board and stated that there was no way for him to capture what spending 6,895 days incarcerated in jail and being wrongfully convicted can feel like. He noted it would be an impossible task. He continued by saying that there were only a few people involved with the Board meeting that day that could relate. Mr. Barnes wanted to especially thank Mr. Barton Bowers with the Office of the Attorney General who, over two years, requested 15 extensions of time so he could adequately and appropriately review the case. Mr. Barnes provided more than 3,000 documents to his office and Mr. Bowers even met with Mr. Miles for several hours. Mr. Bowers conducted many interviews, including over 7,000 pages of exhibits that he presented to the Board. Laura Simpton, the Hearing Officer reviewed all of the evidence provided by Mr. Miles as well as Mr. Bowers. Ms. Simpton concluded what the Appellate Court found, which is that there is a ring of truth to Mr. Miles’ claim of innocence and that he was not in fact guilty of the robbery that was committed. Mr. Miles has maintained his innocence every step of the way.
Mr. Barnes continued by saying that everyone involved in Mr. Miles’ case was told by Mr. Miles that he was innocent. After several evidentiary hearings, Mr. Miles ultimately appealed to the Court of Appeals, which provided some interesting findings. The first being from Justice Moore, that cannot be overstated, which is that Mr. Miles was only serving time in prison because two eye-witnesses identified him. Mr. Barnes then said that we all know that eye-witness testimony can be subject to false identification. In fact, the three perpetrators admitted that Mr. Miles was not even there and testified on his behalf. Those credibility determinations were found by the Court of Appeal to have a ring of truth and should be credible and trustworthy. The Court of Appeals felt that if this evidence had been shown properly in the beginning, Mr. Miles would never have served time.
Mr. Barnes concluded and recommended the Board approve the Proposed Decision in its entirety.
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. Barnes and asked if Mr. Miles wished to address the Board.
Mr. Guy Miles appeared via Zoom. He started by noting this has been an ongoing fight for the past 19 years. He then said he felt everything had already been said beside “thank you.”
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. Miles for addressing the Board, and asked Mr. Barton Bowers of the Office of the Attorney General to speak.
Mr. Bowers appeared via conference call, and indicated this is a relatively straightforward decision. He urged the Board to allow the claim and adopt the Proposed Decision.
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. Bowers for appearing before the Board.
The Board adopted the Proposed Decision.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:38 a.m., to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-68B of the Victim Compensation Program
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:46 a.m.
The Board adopted the hearing officers’ recommendations for proposed decision numbers 1-68B of the Victim Compensation Program, except for items 19A and 19B, which were removed from the agenda.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:48 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 20, 2022.