California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
September 15, 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, Room 330, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, September 15, 2022, at 10:04 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 July 21, 2022, Board Meeting
Member Becton moved approval of the Minutes for the July 21, 2022, Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Member Silva. By unanimous vote, the Board approved the minutes of the July 21, 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 portions of a bill focus on increasing compensation for crime victims and broadening their eligibility for CalVCB benefits were put into a budget trailer bill, AB 160, and passed by the Legislature.
AB 160, if signed by the Governor, could have a significant impact on CalVCB and the work that is done. However, it will only take effect on July 1, 2024, if fiscal forecasts indicate there is enough General fund money to pay for the bill’s ongoing augmentations and actions, and if an appropriation is made to backfill the Restitution Fund to support those actions.
Those items are:
- Increasing the limit on total reimbursement available to crime victims from $70,000 to $100,000.
- An increase on reimbursement limits for relocation and funeral and burial expenses; elimination of the limits on mental health counseling expenses and expanded income and support loss.
- Payments to claimants who have been convicted of violent felonies and are on parole or other post-release supervision.
- Relaxation of current victim cooperation requirements.
These would be significant changes to the Program, but because of the delay and uncertainty of whether they will be implemented, CalVCB will simply monitor for now.
Next, Ms. Gledhill presented the Annual Report of Fiscal Year 2021-22. Ms. Gledhill complimented the hard work done by CalVCB staff and what was accomplished during this year.
Overall, the number of applications CalVCB received and the amount of compensation paid dropped from the previous year. The reduction could be due to lingering effects of the pandemic, but it is still cause for concern.
CalVCB has stepped up outreach in an effort to reverse the trend. CalVCB resumed in-person outreach and trainings. Cal VCB also sought and received a $3 million allocation in the budget to fund a strategic three-year outreach campaign to target underserved populations, raise awareness about CalVCB, and connect with victims across California. The hope is that this increased outreach will help CalVCB reach more victims and increase the number of applications filed.
Ms. Gledhill explained that the extra appropriations in the state budget for CalVCB are the result of months of work behind the scenes with the Governor’s Office and the Legislature.
In additions to the money for outreach, the budget increased the limit for reimbursements for relocation and funeral and burial expenses for the first time in 20 years, enabled a significant expansion to the Trauma Recovery Centers with $23 million provided to set up satellite offices- in rural or underserved areas, provided flexible cash assistance for victims, increased grants over the next three years, and established a new process for issuing direct payments for those erroneously convicted claims that the Board approves.
Also, over the past year, CalVCB launched the Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program to pay reparations to victims of state-sponsored forced sterilization. The Program began January 1 and is currently scheduled to run for two years. To date, CalVCB has received 147 applications for this Program.
Ms. Gledhill concluded by noting that CalVCB continues to work on efficiently processing claims, increasing outreach efforts, networking with stakeholders, and strengthening the organization.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for the updates.
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 has adjourned its session and, in addition to AB 160, there are two important bills that could impact CalVCB that are awaiting the Governor’s action.
The first is:
- SB 877, by Senator Eggman, which would authorize CalVCB to reimburse out-of-state mental health providers. This bill would take effect January 1 if signed.
The second is:
- SB 1468, by Senator Glazer, which would deem any decision by the Board to approve compensation for erroneously convicted offenders to be an official finding of factual innocence and provide additional non-monetary relief.
The Governor has until September 30 to act on pending legislation.
Mr. LaMar noted that AB 13 by Assemblymember Holden, which appropriates nearly $2.5 million from the General Fund to pay three claims for erroneously convicted offenders that were approved by the Board at the May meeting, was signed by the Governor. These are the final claims that required a legislative appropriation since the Board is now authorized to make direct payments.
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 that all items on the contract report are informational. The contracts with the Trauma Recovery Centers have been updated per the budget that took effect on
July 1 and consistent with the Board members’ action at the July Board meeting. These amendments raised each current TRC up to at least $1.1 million. Also included in this report are the separate TRC contracts to each existing TRC for $120,000 for the emergency cash allocations.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for her updates.
Item 6. Request for Authority to Conclude the Rulemaking Process for Amendments to the California Code of Regulations
CalVCB Senior Attorney Sara Harbarger presented the Request for Authority to Conclude the Rulemaking Process for Amendments to the California Code of Regulations governing claims of erroneously convicted offenders under Penal Code sections 4900 et seq.
Ms. Harbarger noted that on March 17, 2022, the Board approved commencement of the rulemaking process to amend sections 640 through 646 of Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations, which govern Penal Code section 4900 claims and includes the claim form. These regulations were last updated in 2012, and. since then, the statutes for processing Penal Code section 4900 claims have changed significantly.
On April 1, 2022, CalVCB staff published the proposed regulations on the website for public comment. Multiple comments were received. After considering the suggestions, modifications were made to sections 640(a), 640(b), 640(d), 642(a), 642(b), and 645(g). The modified regulations were reposted on June 2, 2022, for additional public comment. One comment was received. The passage of Assembly Bill 200 led to a second round of modifications, which were posted on the website on July 20, 2022, for another round of public comment. No comments were received, and no additional modifications were proposed. Throughout these events, no public hearing was requested or conducted.
The process is now complete, and, if the proposed regulations and claim form are adopted by the Board, then the Executive Officer will file the final rulemaking record with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). If approved by OAL, the regulations will be filed with the Secretary of State and become operative on January 1, 2023.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Harbarger for the updates. Chair Ravel confirmed with Ms. Harbarger that the regulation changes are all in conformity with the new statutes governing erroneously convicted offender claims.
Member Silva moved to approve the request for authority to conclude the rulemaking process for amendments to the California Code of Regulations. 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-17, Joaquin Ciria
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Joaquin Ciria.
On May 9, 2022, Joaquin Ciria filed an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application was based upon Mr. Ciria’s 1991 convictions for murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The convictions were vacated and dismissed during state habeas proceedings based on new evidence in April of 2022.
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 in the amount of $1,636,600, which represents $140 per day for the 11,690 days Mr. Ciria was wrongfully imprisoned.
Throughout the proceedings, Mr. Ciria was represented by Supervising Attorney Paige Kaneb, of the Northern California Innocence Project. The Attorney General’s Office was represented by Deputy Attorney General Sharon Loughner.
Chairperson Ravel asked that counsel for Mr. Ciria address the Board first.
Linda Star, the Director of the Northern California Innocence Project, who appeared in person, stated they appreciated the attention that the Board has given to the case and the Attorney General’s concession. She added Mr. Ciria is looking forward to getting on with his life.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Star for her comments. While waiting for Mr. Ciria to speak, Chairperson Ravel asked Ms. Loughner of the Attorney General’s Office for her comments on the matter.
Ms. Loughner, who appeared by telephone, stated her office had no comment.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Loughner for appearing before the Board.
Chairperson Ravel then asked if Mr. Ciria would like to address the Board.
Mr. Ciria, who appeared in-person, stated that he wanted to thank everyone for giving him the opportunity to be in front of the Board and to say God bless everyone.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. Ciria for his appearance.
Member Silva moved to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision in the Penal Code section 4900 matter of Joaquin Ciria. 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. 22-ECO-15, Kimberly Long
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by Kimberly Long.
On April 21, 2022, Kimberly Long submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application was based on Ms. Long’s 2005 conviction for murder. The conviction was vacated and dismissed during state habeas proceedings, and the prosecution declined to proceed with a retrial and moved to dismiss the case in April of 2021.
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 in the amount of $386,400, which represents $140 per day for the 2,760 days Ms. Long was wrongfully imprisoned.
Throughout the proceedings, Ms. Long was represented by Alex Simpson of the Northern California Innocence Project. The Attorney General’s Office was represented by Deputy Attorney General Tami Falkenstein.
Mr. Simpson and Ms. Long both appeared via Zoom.
Chairperson Ravel asked that counsel for Ms. Long address the Board first.
Mr. Simpson, who is the Associate Director of the California Innocence Project, stated his office has represented Ms. Long for more than 10 years – from the evidentiary hearing and reversal, through the subsequent legal proceedings in the court of appeal in the California Supreme Court, and while she was under threat of retrial. According to Mr. Simpson, the District Attorney’s Office agreed that Ms. Long’s charges should be dismissed, and she then filed her claim before the Board. Mr. Simpson opined that these compensation proceedings cannot make whole these victims of the criminal legal system, they cannot bring back the years that the erroneously convicted offenders spent in prison while they missed birthdays and holidays, or family events and celebrations. These proceedings cannot replace the years of loss and home sickness. Mr. Simpson added Ms. Long will never be able to get those years back, but through this compensation process, they recognize that we can do something to alleviate some of that loss. Mr. Simpson stated that we should be able to get these individuals back on their feet and able to move on with their lives. Mr. Simpson observed that we should focus not necessarily on the years Ms. Long has lost, although obviously there is a calculation of those years, but we should instead focus on the years she has left and the years she has ahead of her, and this compensation will go a long way to support those years.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Mr. Simpson for his comments.
Chairperson Ravel then asked if Ms. Long would like to address the Board.
Ms. Long started by saying that today she felt heard, today she felt like she mattered to people who do not know her, but who have now seen the injustice that was bestowed upon her and countless others. She stated it must be recognized the agony and pain that all exonerees suffer here in California. Although compensation will not relieve the trauma of a wrongful conviction, she believed today’s findings show that the state of California hopes to put right what has been done wrong. She added that all exonerees deserve to be compensated.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Long for her comments.
Chairperson Ravel then asked Ms. Falkenstein for her comments on the matter.
Ms. Falkenstein who appeared by telephone stated the Office of the Attorney General agreed with the proposed decision’s recommendation.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Falkenstein for appearing before the Board.
Member Silva moved to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Proposed Decision in the Penal Code section 4900 matter of Kimberly Long. The motion was seconded by Member Becton. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the Proposed Decision was adopted.
The Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:29 a.m. pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-225 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) at 10:35 a.m.
Member Becton moved to approve items 1 through 225, with the exception of item numbers 7 and 19, of the Victim Compensation Program. Member Silva seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the proposed decisions were adopted.
Member Silva moved adjournment of the September Board meeting. Member Becton seconded the motion. The motion was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Board and the meeting was adjourned at 10:36 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 17, 2022.