Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

04/14/2021 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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01:48:48 PM Start
01:49:50 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
02:14:51 PM SB122
02:47:03 PM SJR1
02:52:26 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Workers' Compensation Appeals Commission
Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Moved CSSJR 1(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    SB 122-VICTIM DEFINITION                                                                                
2:14:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  REINBOLD   reconvened  the   meeting  and   announced  the                                                               
consideration of  SENATE BILL  NO. 122, "An  Act relating  to the                                                               
definition of 'victim.'"                                                                                                        
2:15:27 PM                                                                                                                    
KELLI   TOTH,  Staff,   Senator  Lora   Reinbold,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature,   Juneau,  Alaska,   on  behalf   of  the   sponsor,                                                               
paraphrased the sponsor statement.                                                                                              
[Original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     SB122 is  a bill that  removes the word  "adult" before                                                                    
     the word "child"  in the definition in  AS 12.55.185 (C                                                                    
     ii). By  removing the word  adult, the definition  of a                                                                    
     victim will include a child of  a person who has been a                                                                    
         victim of a crime when a parent or guardian is                                                                         
     deceased. SB122 will ensure victim rights for a child                                                                      
     of a deceased parent or guardian.                                                                                          
She explained that this will allow  a child to participate in the                                                               
case  in the  same way  as  the victims  could if  they were  not                                                               
deceased. She stated that the bill has a zero fiscal note.                                                                      
2:16:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. TOTH  provided the sectional  analysis. The bill  consists of                                                               
one section. On  page 2, line 1, subparagraph  (ii), the language                                                               
"an adult" is deleted and "a" is inserted. It would then read:                                                                  
     (ii) a child, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, or                                                                     
     grandchild of the deceased; or                                                                                             
2:17:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REINBOLD turned to invited testimony.                                                                                     
2:18:05 PM                                                                                                                    
TAYLOR WINSTON,  Executive Director,  Office of  Victims' Rights,                                                               
Legislative  Affairs   Agency,  Anchorage,  Alaska,   stated  she                                                               
noticed the disparity in the  treatment of children of victims of                                                               
crimes.  This  became  an  issue  in  a  case,  which  was  later                                                               
resolved. However,  it highlighted the difficulty  minor children                                                               
of  a crime  victim can  encounter  because as  minors, they  are                                                               
precluded  from constitutional  and statutory  rights when  their                                                               
parent is  the victim  of an offense.  The definition  in statute                                                               
does  not list  an age  qualifier  for the  adult child,  parent,                                                               
brother, sister,  grandparent, or grandchild  of the victim  of a                                                               
crime. A minor  spouse or child couldn't give  a victim statement                                                               
or receive restitution or other  rights given to crime victims in                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
MS.  WINSTON referred  to  the definition  of  "victim" under  AS                                                               
12.55.185 (19). Subparagraph (C) pertains  to a victim of a crime                                                               
who died.  If that  person had  a sister and  a minor  child, the                                                               
sister would be entitled to rights  but not the minor child. This                                                               
bill will make it equitable, she said.                                                                                          
2:20:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  pointed out a possible  unintended consequence. He                                                               
asked if  a situation could arise  where a homicide victim  has a                                                               
very young  minor child  who could not  give a  meaningful victim                                                               
impact  statement  or participate  in  parole  hearings or  other                                                               
matters that a victim would be  entitled to. He said the language                                                               
in AS 12.55.185(19)(C) refers to "one of the following."                                                                        
MS.  WINSTON  responded  that  could be  the  situation  for  all                                                               
victims. For  example, it is  possible an adult child  or brother                                                               
of a  homicide victim could  be incompetent and  therefore unable                                                               
to use the law and the  protections in the same way others could.                                                               
This bill  will ensure that  barriers are not erected  because of                                                               
someone's age.  She pointed  out that  very young  children often                                                               
want to  participate and most  courts will  allow them to  do so.                                                               
She noted that an adult, such  as a guardian or guardian ad litem                                                               
usually will represent the child.                                                                                               
2:23:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL suggested  that an amendment might  be necessary to                                                               
clarify that  a child  is entitled to  participate in  matters as                                                               
the child of a victim [identified in subparagraph (A)].                                                                         
2:23:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REINBOLD  suggested that he  could work with her  office on                                                               
any amendments.                                                                                                                 
2:23:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER  asked  whether  AS  12.55.185(19)(C)(iii)  would                                                               
provide a safety net.                                                                                                           
MS. WINSTON  said the language,  "adult child" became a  point of                                                               
litigation in  which a  teenage child  whose mother  was murdered                                                               
was not  allowed to  avail herself of  her crime  victim's rights                                                               
due to her age. She stated  that she argued in pleadings that the                                                               
court had the  discretion to use the language  "any other person"                                                               
in AS  12.55.185(19)(C)(iii). However,  the court declined  to do                                                               
so. Currently,  a grandchild of  a murder victim would  have more                                                               
rights than  the victim's minor  child. She said from  a victim's                                                               
rights perspective that was  offensive.                                                                                         
2:25:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   HUGHES   referred  to   page   1,   line  12,   to   AS                                                               
12.55.185(19)(C),  which allows  sub-subparagraph  (i), (ii),  or                                                               
(iii) to be used. She asked what  would happen if a minor aged 17                                                               
was  married  to the  dead  victim.  She  asked  if "one  of  the                                                               
following" should be  changed to "any one of  the following." She                                                               
referred to  page 1,  line 10,  to AS  12.55.185(19(B)(ii), which                                                               
uses  the language  "adult  child." She  asked  if that  language                                                               
should also be changed to include a minor child.                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES restated her question.                                                                                           
MS. WINSTON agreed.  She opined that it was not  the intention of                                                               
the  law to  limit  any  opportunity for  a  dead victim's  close                                                               
relatives listed in sub-subparagraph (ii)  to attend a hearing or                                                               
receive restitution  to one person.  She referred to line  12, AS                                                               
12.55.185(19)(C), and  suggested it would  be better to  use "any                                                               
one of  the following"  rather than "one  of the  following." She                                                               
said  AS   12.55.185(19)(B)  uses   the  language  "one   of  the                                                               
following".  However, if  the homicide  victim,  as specified  by                                                               
subparagraph  (A), was  a  minor,  incompetent or  incapacitated,                                                               
subparagraph (B) relates to (A).                                                                                                
2:28:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  WINSTON acknowledged  that a  situation could  arise when  a                                                               
minor parent  becomes a victim  of a crime. However,  she offered                                                               
her belief that the minor child  would already be covered in that                                                               
situation.  She  explained  that AS  12.55.185(19(C)  relates  to                                                               
homicide victims and lists people  who are considered the victims                                                               
entitled to  participate in hearings or  receive compensation. AS                                                               
12.55.185(19)(B) pertains to situations in  which the victim of a                                                               
crime was  a minor,  incompetent, or  incapacitated. Subparagraph                                                               
(B)  would allow  a  spouse, parent,  adult  child, guardian,  or                                                               
custodian of that victim of a  crime to receive compensation as a                                                               
victim or to participate in parole hearings or other matters.                                                                   
2:30:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  referred to page  1, line 7  of SB 122.  She said                                                               
that subparagraph  (B) pertains  to subparagraph (A),  the person                                                               
against  whom an  offense has  been  perpetrated that  is also  a                                                               
minor,  incompetent,  or  incapacitated. She  said  the  mentally                                                               
disabled victim  who is alive could  also have a minor  child who                                                               
is  also  affected.  She  suggested  that  sub-subparagraph  (ii)                                                               
should not read "adult child."                                                                                                  
MS. WINSTON  said she  understood her concern.  She said  that if                                                               
the  committee wanted  to expand  the definition  of victims,  it                                                               
could do so.                                                                                                                    
She  explained that  the difference  between AS  12.55.185(19)(B)                                                               
and  AS 12.55.185(19)(C)  is that  the direct  victim is  dead in                                                               
subparagraph  (C).  Therefore,  it  provides  a  list  of  people                                                               
recognized as  victims. In  subparagraph (B),  the victim  is not                                                               
dead but may  be under 18, mentally challenged, or  in a coma. In                                                               
that instance,  it provides for a  person who is related  to come                                                               
before the court to speak on  behalf of the incompetent victim of                                                               
a crime. She  acknowledged that the list of  people identified in                                                               
subparagraph (B)  could be expanded by  including minor children,                                                               
but it would considerably expand the definition.                                                                                
2:32:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES   characterized  this  as  an   important  policy                                                               
decision  because  the child  of  a  homicide victim  could  come                                                               
before the  court to  testify how they  are impacted.  The parent                                                               
will be gone forever.                                                                                                           
SENATOR HUGHES  pointed out  that the  parent who  was victimized                                                               
but not killed  may be disabled or  in a coma. In  that case, the                                                               
child may be living with the  disabled parent. She asked why that                                                               
child would  not be allowed  to come  before the court,  too. She                                                               
was unsure why it would be  placed under one category and not the                                                               
2:33:59 PM                                                                                                                    
One  might ask  if  the incapacitated  victim's parent,  brother,                                                               
sister, grandparent,  or grandchild  should also have  those same                                                               
opportunities under subparagraph (B).  MS. WINSTON responded that                                                               
she was  not saying that  it could not be  done. She said  she is                                                               
all  for  as many  victimized  people  to have  opportunities  to                                                               
participate in  the process, but  it will potentially  expand the                                                               
notification on all things and increase the fiscal note.                                                                        
2:35:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  REINBOLD reminded  members that  SB 122  only changes  the                                                               
language from "an  adult child" to "a  child" in sub-subparagraph                                                               
(C) on page 2, line 1.                                                                                                          
MS. WINSTON agreed.                                                                                                             
2:35:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL  interpreted subparagraph  (B)  to  mean that  the                                                               
direct victim is  not legally able to speak.  In subparagraph (C)                                                               
the  direct  victim  cannot physically  participate  because  the                                                               
direct victim  is deceased. He  offered his view that  people who                                                               
could speak  on their behalf  should be  similar. He said  he was                                                               
not inclined  to open the list  up to everyone. However,  he said                                                               
he thinks it makes sense to  have an adult give the victim impact                                                               
statement when the direct victim  is disabled and unable to speak                                                               
on their behalf. It makes  great sense to expand sub-subparagraph                                                               
(ii) to include  a minor child. He hoped  these suggestions would                                                               
accomplish the  bill's intent,  which is good.  He said  it makes                                                               
sense  to   have  one  adult   acting  as  the   direct  victim's                                                               
spokesperson  in parole  hearings  or other  proceedings such  as                                                               
modifying  the sentencing  process. He  said he  did not  want to                                                               
dramatically increase the fiscal note.                                                                                          
2:37:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. WINSTON said she was unsure of the changes to be made.                                                                      
SENATOR KIEHL stated that he would  like to work on this language                                                               
with the sponsor.                                                                                                               
2:38:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MYERS related  his understanding  that subparagraph  (B)                                                               
would establish  guardianship for  the victim of  a crime  who is                                                               
still  alive. While  he understood  Senator Hughes'  concern that                                                               
the direct  victim is  not the  only victim,  he was  hesitant to                                                               
expand the bill to multiple  people without first considering all                                                               
of  the victim's  rights  in Alaska.  If  an incapacitated  crime                                                               
victim did  not have an  apparent guardian,  such as a  parent or                                                               
spouse,  the   court  would  appoint   one.  He   suggested  that                                                               
[subparagraph (B) should not be changed.                                                                                        
2:39:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES stated  that  the  committee needs  clarification                                                               
whether  this  pertains  to  victims who  can  submit  an  impact                                                               
statement,  victims who  will act  as guardians  and victims  who                                                               
will  be eligible  for restitution.  She said  the committee  has                                                               
discussed victims  providing impact statements before  the court.                                                               
She asked if that person would  be eligible for restitution or if                                                               
this relates to assigning guardianship.                                                                                         
MS. WINSTON  said the change  in SB 122 to  sub-subparagraph (ii)                                                               
was to allow a  child of a homicide victim to  have all the crime                                                               
victim rights.  Those rights do  not pertain to  guardianship. It                                                               
would go beyond providing an  impact statement. For example, that                                                               
language would include whether the  15-year-old child wants to be                                                               
in the courtroom during the  trial or is entitled to restitution.                                                               
It may pertain to some type  of privacy rights, such as a defense                                                               
attorney seeking  private records,  such as counseling  or school                                                               
records. She  stated that there  are many victims' rights  that a                                                               
child  of a  homicide victim  could  not participate  in or  have                                                               
access  to.   She  highlighted  that  the   case  she  previously                                                               
mentioned  was that  a child  wanted to  be in  the courtroom  to                                                               
observe proceedings but  was not allowed to do so  since the dead                                                               
victim's child was not an adult.                                                                                                
2:43:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REINBOLD stated  that the bill's goal was to  allow a child                                                               
to have rights.                                                                                                                 
2:44:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REINBOLD opened public testimony on SB 122.                                                                               
2:44:26 PM                                                                                                                    
KATIE BOTZ,  representing self, Juneau,  Alaska, stated  her full                                                               
support of  SB 122. She recommended  that the bill not  be opened                                                               
up to  everyone. She  asked members to  be mindful  that victims,                                                               
including children  and minors, should  have the right  to attend                                                               
or not  attend court  proceedings, especially  if they  have been                                                               
2:46:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REINBOLD closed public testimony on SB 122.                                                                               

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