Upcoming: A conversation with Justice Jackson and Justice Streeter; The California Racial Justice Act of 2020; Changes to 1st District Brief Covers

February 4, 2021

FDAP cordially invites you to join us in a discussion with Associate Justices Teri L. Jackson and Jon B. Streeter on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. We also write with important information about California’s groundbreaking Racial Justice Act. Finally, we are pleased to announce the First District no longer requires panel attorneys–on brief covers—to identify themselves as appointed. Details follow … 

A Conversation With Justices Jackson and Streeter: Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021

Join FDAP for a moderated, one-hour discussion with Teri L. Jackson, Associate Justice in Division 3, and Jon B. Streeter, Associate Justice in Division 4 of the First Appellate District. The discussion, to be held via Zoom webinar, will take place from 12 to 1 p.m. on February 17, 2021. It will qualify for one hour of general participatory MCLE credit.

Justice Jackson was appointed to the Court of Appeal in November 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom. The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed her appointment in January 2020. She is the first female African-American justice on the state’s First Appellate District.

Justice Streeter was appointed to the Court of Appeal in November 2014, and prior to that, was a commercial litigator based in San Francisco. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the American Law Institute, and a former President of the State Bar of California.

To ensure a more robust and interactive discussion, we are encouraging attorneys to send in questions for the justices before the training. Questions should be emailed no later than February 9, 2021 to:  mcle@fdap.org.

Racial Justice Act: Resources and Upcoming Training Opportunities

In September 2020, Governor Newsom signed the California Racial Justice Act (RJA), a groundbreaking law designed to address rampant racial injustice in our state’s criminal justice system. (Assem. Bill 2542.) The RJA is codified in Penal Code sections 745, 1437, and 1437.7.

Since its signing, criminal justice and civil rights organizations across the state (including FDAP) have been meeting regularly to strategize about making the most of this monumental law. The RJA implementation group has organized statewide trainings for trial counsel about the scope of these new laws, and is working out the best practices for raising RJA challenges in the trial courts. This is an ongoing and dynamic effort.

For appellate practitioners, the law will come into play in several ways. In the coming months, appellate records may include issues litigated under the RJA in the trial court. In addition, there may opportunities to raise RJA challenges that were not raised in the trial court, or to apply the RJA’s legislative intent to claims with a racial discrimination component. To explore these issues, FDAP is planning a training in mid-April focused on raising the RJA on appeal.

There will be hurdles unique to appellate attorneys, most notably language in the newly-enacted statute that the RJA “applies only prospectively in cases in which judgment has not been entered prior to January 1, 2021.” (Pen. Code, § 745, subd. (j).) Legislation was introduced earlier this month to make the law retroactive. Until then, FDAP is working up arguments that the prospective-only language violates equal protection and due process. Again, all of this is a work in progress.

We strongly encourage all practitioners to familiarize themselves with the RJA. There are many resources and trainings available online, and several upcoming live trainings. These include the following:

1. California Appellate Defense Counsel (CADC) 27th Annual Conference and Seminar, March 12 and 13th, 2021 (Online via video) 

  • On Friday March 12, from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m., Nisha Shah with the Habeas Corpus Resource Center and Lisa Romo with the Office of the State Public Defender will present The Racial Justice Act: AB 2542. (Eligible for one hour recognition of bias credit.) Registration details are available here.
  •  Note: This presentation will not be recorded for later viewing.

2. California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) and the California Public Defenders’ Association (CPDA), Capital Case Defense Seminar, February 12 – February 15, 2021 (online via video)

  • On February 12, 2021, from 4:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Henderson Hill, executive director of Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc., will discuss developing California strategies and opportunities of the RJA, and the history of the North Carolina RJA passed in 2009, repealed in 2013, and reinstated last year. Registration details available here.
  • Note: This training will be available on demand after the conference.

3. In addition to these live trainings, CPDA has presented three recent webinars that are available for viewing by CPDA members. These trainings, all of which qualify for MCLE self-study credit, include:

  • Meet This Moment: An Introduction to Litigating Racial Justice Act Issues –December 10, 2020
  • Showing Racial Bias Under PC 745 (California Racial Justice Act) – With Data & Context — January 14, 2021
  • California Racial Justice Act Motions Practice – Thursday, January 7, 2021

Information about joining CPDA is available here. CPDA members may access the recordings here

Stay tuned for the date and time of FDAP’s upcoming RJA training in April. In the meantime, should an issue arise in a case that may present a potential RJA challenge, please reach out to your FDAP assisting attorney to discuss whether and how to approach the issue.

Change to Attorney Block on First District Brief Covers

As requested by FDAP and effective February 1, 2021, the First District no longer requires that panel attorneys include on the cover of briefs the fact that they are appointed and their designation as independent or assisted. Accordingly, panel attorney briefs, like briefs filed by any attorney litigating in the First District, need only include the information required by Rule 8.40(b)(1).