Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Now that our national fiscal issues have been resolved for at least a few months, it's time to enact solid comprehensive immigration reform.

It's interesting that here in California more Republican House members are moving towards a comprehensive approach.  Why?  Because so many of them represent agricultural areas of the State, and their farmer constituents are begging for help because they can't find enough local labor to help with all aspects of the agricultural year, especially at harvest time.

We need to reach out more proactively to all of our House members, including more conservative members--Democrat or Republican.  Our best allies will come from the broad agricultural community:  individual growers, farm organizations, State Farm Bureaus, and the like.

Perhaps we have been too narrow in reaching out to diverse groups to form a broader coalition to get comprehensive immigration reform.  It's interesting that several States which have passed local restrictive laws dealing with immigrants have found great opposition from their agricultural groups.  A few examples:  Colorado, Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia.  We have achieved new partners from those State Farm groups, as well as other Church communities.  In the South, many Evangelical Churches have rallied in support of our immigrants and immigration reform.

Let's proceed forward actively to recruit new partners and collaborators as we make a renewed effort to pass decent and comprehensive immigration reform.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


With the fiscal crisis in Washington now resolved for at least a few months, now it's time for Congress to move forward with immigration reform.

The Senate has passed a comprehensive Bill to fix our broken immigration system.  Now it's time for the House to take up that same Bill and vote on it.  Many Congress-watchers believe that the House has enough votes to pass the Senate Bill if the Speaker would abandon his stated goal that a majority of House Republicans must agree to the Bill before he brings it up for a vote.  On Wednesday night he suspended that informal rule to pass the fiscal package.

I urge him to do the same with the pending Senate Bill that is now in the House.

Our brothers and sisters who live and work in our midst, albeit in the shadows of our society because of their unauthorized status, deserve respect and dignity as human beings.  They are here because there are low-skilled and low-wage jobs which Americans will simply not do.  We have created a magnet to attract them here, and having benefited from their hard labors, we now have an obligation to offer them an earned path to full legal status.

You and I still have work to do:  send an email to your Representative in the House urging them to put aside petty objections and to vote for the Senate Bill which is now before them.

May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph intercede for us on behalf of all immigrants in our midst!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


October 12, 2013

To the Members of the California State Senate:
I am returning Senate Bill 131 without my signature.

This bill makes amendments to the statute of limitations relating to claims of childhood sexual abuse. Specifically, it amends and significantly expands a 2002 law to "revive" certain claims that previously had been time barred.

Statutes of limitation reach back to Roman law and were specifically enshrined in the English common law by the Limitations Act of 1623. Ever since, and in every state, including California, various limits have been imposed on the time when lawsuits may still be initiated. Even though valid and profoundly important claims are at stake, all jurisdictions have seen fit to bar actions after a lapse of years.

The reason for such a universal practice is one of fairness. There comes a time when an individual or organization should be secure in the reasonable expectation that past acts are indeed in the past and not subject to further lawsuits. With the passage of time, evidence may be lost or disposed of, memories fade and witnesses move away or die.

Over the years, California's laws regarding time limits for childhood sexual abuse cases have been amended many times. The changes have affected not only how long a person has to make a claim, but also who may be sued for the sexual abuse. The issue of who is subject to liability is an important distinction as the law in this area has always and rightfully imposed longer periods of liability for an actual perpetrator of sexual abuse than for an organization that employed that perpetrator. This makes sense as third parties are in a very different position than perpetrators with respect to both evidence and memories.

For claims against a perpetrator of abuse, the current law is that a claimant must sue within eight years of attaining the age of majority (i.e. age 26) or "within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual abuse, whichever period expires later?" However, for claims against a third party ? e.g. an organization that employed the perpetrator of the abuse ? the general rule since 1998 was that a claimant must sue before he or she turns 26. A later discovered psychological injury ? no matter how compelling ? could not be brought against a third party by a person older than 26.

When a number of high profile sex abuse scandals in both public and private institutions came to light, many felt that the third party limitation rule described above was too harsh and that claimants over 26 should be able to recover damages for later discovered injuries from certain, more culpable entities.

In 2002, the California Legislature weighed the competing considerations on this issue and enacted SB 1779, which did the following: (1) It identified for the first time a new subcategory of third party defendants which no longer would have the protection of the age 26 cutoff for claims. Going forward these defendants ? entities who knew or should have known of the sexual abuse and failed to take action - now could be sued within three years of the date of discovery of a claim. (2) Looking backwards, SB 1779 also revived for one year only (2003) all claims that had previously lapsed because of the statute of limitation. This very unusual "one year revival" of lapsed claims allowed victims relief but also set a defined cut-off time for these lapsed claims.

In reliance on the clear language and intent of this statute, the private third party defendants covered by this bill took actions to resolve these legacy claims of victims older than 26. Over 1,000 claims were filed against the Catholic Church alone, some involving alleged abuse as far back as the 1930s. By 2007, the Catholic Church in California had paid out more than $1.2 billion to settle the claims filed during this one year revival period. Other private and non-profit employers were sued and paid out as well.

For the public third parties covered by this bill, however, a very different result occurred. There is no doubt that in 2002, when SB 1779 was enacted, it was intended to apply to both public and private entities. Indeed, it would be unreasonable, if not shocking, for the Legislature to intentionally discriminate against one set of victims, e.g. those whose abusers happened to be employed by a public instead of a private entity. However, due to a drafting error, the California Supreme Court held in 2007 that SB 1779 did not actually apply to public or governmental agencies. So, unlike private institutions, public schools and government entities were shielded from the one year revival of lapsed claims. As a result, the similarly situated victims of these entities were not accorded the remedies of SB 1779.

In 2008, the Legislature addressed this unfair distinction between victims of public as opposed to private institutions. Note, however, that the bill enacted, SB 640, did not restore equity between these two sets of victims. Instead of subjecting public/governmental entities to all of the provisions of the 2002 law, the Legislature only allowed victims of public institutions to sue under the new rules prospectively-from 2009 forward-and provided no "one year revival" period. In passing this 2008 law, I can't believe the legislature decided that victims of abuse by a public entity are somehow less deserving than those who suffered abuse by a private entity. The children assaulted by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State or the teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles are no less worthy because of the nature of the institution they attended. Rather, I believe that legislators, in good faith, weighed the merits of such claims against the equities of allowing claims to be brought against third parties years after the abuse occurred. The Legislature concluded that fairness required that certain claims should be allowed, but only going forward.

This brings us to the bill now before me, SB 131. This bill does not change a victim's ability to sue a perpetrator. This bill also does not change the significant inequity that exists between private and public entities. What this bill does do is go back to the only group, i.e. private institutions, that have already been subjected to the unusual "one year revival period" and makes them, and them alone, subject to suit indefinitely. This extraordinary extension of the statute of limitations, which legislators chose not to apply to public institutions, is simply too open-ended and unfair. For all these reasons, I am returning SB 131 without my signature.


Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Governor of California 

Friday, October 4, 2013


Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a provision allowing unauthorized immigrants across California to apply for and receive State-issued drivers permits.

I applaud this new law since it accomplishes many positive goals:  it recognizes the presence of many brothers and sisters among us without proper legal papers, and extends to them respect and dignity; it will ensure that all drivers on California roads will have studied for testing, and have taken a driving exam; it will require all such persons to have proper automobile insurance; and it will make our roads safer for everyone.

Some 1.4 million California immigrants would be eligible to apply for the new driving permits.

The new driving permits will appear differently from regular California drivers licenses which bear the logo "DL" for Driver's License.  These special permits will bear the logo "DP" for Driving Privilege, thus reducing their possible usage for other identification purposes.

It is expected that the Department of Motor Vehicles will start issuing the new driving permits by September or October of 2014.

While this step forward for our immigrant brothers and sisters is important, it does not address all of the other major stumbling blocks facing unauthorized persons in our country.  We must still insist on comprehensive immigration reform to bring all immigrants out from the shadows where they now live in fear, hardships, and discrimination.