Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

04/14/2021 01:30 PM 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:                                                                                              
     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.                                                                                                                      
She  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                                                               
said the  language in AS  12.55.185(19)(C) refers to "one  of the                                                               
following."  He asked  if  a  situation could  arise  in which  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.                                                                   
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 not able                                                               
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 small  children often                                                               
want  to  participate   and  most  courts  will   allow  them  to                                                               
participate.  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 the safety net.                                                                                                         
MS. WINSTON  said the language,  "adult child" became a  point of                                                               
litigation in which a teenage child  of a mother who was murdered                                                               
was not being able 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  that from  a                                                               
victim's right perspective, she found that to be 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  an  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  that 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).                                                                                                
She acknowledged  that a situation  could arise in which  a minor                                                               
parent  becomes a  victim of  a crime.  However, she  offered her                                                               
belief that  in that situation  the minor child would  already be                                                               
covered.  She  explained  that   AS  12.55.185(19(C)  relates  to                                                               
homicide victims, and lists people  who are considered as 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 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 who                                                               
can be 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                                                               
being  identified  in  subparagraph  (B)  could  be  expanded  by                                                               
including  minor children  but it  would considerably  expand the                                                               
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 on  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.                                                                       
MS. WINSTON  responded that she is  not saying that could  not be                                                               
done. One might ask if  the parent, brother, sister, grandparent,                                                               
or grandchild of the incapacitated  victim should also have those                                                               
same opportunities  under subparagraph (B).  She said she  is all                                                               
for as  many people who  are victimized 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-sub paragraph                                                               
(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  intent of  the bill,  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 the                                                               
modification of  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 a  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 obvious  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                                                               
been discussing  victims providing  impact statements  before the                                                               
court. She asked if that  person will 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, it                                                               
would include  whether the 15-year-old  child wants to be  in the                                                               
in the courtroom during the trial  or is entitled to some type of                                                               
restitution. It may  pertain to some type of  privacy right, such                                                               
as  a   defense  attorney  seeking   private  records,   such  as                                                               
counseling or school  records. She stated that there  are a whole                                                               
host of victims'  rights that a child of a  homicide victim could                                                               
not participate in or have  access. 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 goal  of the bill 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 asked members to be  mindful that victims                                                               
include children  and minors should  have the right to  decide to                                                               
attend or not  attend court proceedings, especially  if they have                                                               
been victimized. She  recommended that the bill not  be opened up                                                               
to everyone.                                                                                                                    
2:46:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REINBOLD closed public testimony on SB 122.                                                                               

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