Legislation by Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) to simplify the process for removing a public official from office for willful or corrupt misconduct in office was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown. SB 1357 would remove ambiguity in the law and allows district attorneys to present such accusations to a criminal grand jury in any case.
“I want to thank Governor Brown for signing this important piece of legislation. This definitely makes it easier for district attorneys to do their jobs so those that violate our public trust are brought to justice,” said Senator Cannella. “District attorneys now have a clear path to prosecute a corrupt public official and don’t have to worry about wasting valuable time and money in the wrong court or having their case thrown out on a technicality.”
In the 1970’s, appellate courts began dismissing rulings made by specially selected civil grand juries, deeming accusations to be criminal in nature. However, in 1993, the Attorney General opined that criminal grand juries could not handle civil matters. Thus, if an accusation was found to be a civil matter, the ruling from a criminal grand jury could be dismissed.
The bill was supported by Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo, who testified to the Senate Public Safety Committee in March.