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Capitol Roundup: Prosecutorial Misconduct, Wage Theft


The California Assembly has sent the Senate a bill intended to limit prosecutorial misconduct.

Criminal prosecutors are required to give defense lawyers all evidence that could help a defendant. But Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber says some prosecutors game the legal system by disclosing evidence at the last minute – or not at all – and that’s led to wrongful convictions. Weber’s bill would let a judge instruct a jury to consider that failure to disclose as in its deliberations.

"This is intended to mitigate whatever competitive advantage a prosecutor believes he or she is obtaining by hiding evidence and innocence," says Weber.

Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner argued that such problems are addressed in existing law – and Weber’s bill would allow defense attorneys to string cases out.

"The gamesmanship that is being played with these kinds of supposed violations is actually on the other side," says Wagner.

It took three tries for the bill to advance. It now moves to the state Senate.

Meanwhile, the California state Senate has approved a bill intended to crack down on the practice of wage theft. That’s when an employer under-pays a worker, such as paying less than minimum wage or not paying legally-required overtime.

Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León says his bill would make it easier for the state to collect unpaid wages from dishonest businesses.

"When that money’s not collected, our economy suffers because of it, because these individuals do not have the money in their pockets to reinvest back into the economy," he says.

Most Republicans voted “no” on the bill, but none spoke in opposition. The measure now moves to the Assembly.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio