While I was busy mediating cases in 2012, our California legislature was busy passing more than 800 laws. While some of them clearly make sense, I wonder which special interest groups were at work to get some of the more arcane measures passed.
As a previous litigator, I am always interested in the new laws affecting lawsuits. This past year, the legislature passed at least two new measures affecting civil ligation. The first, AB 1875 limits “…a deposition of any person to 7 hours of total testimony, except under specified circumstances.” Those special circumstances include where the parties have stipulated to a longer deposition, or to a deponent who has been designated as the most qualified to testify, to employment related cases and other situations. ( AB 1875) This new statute follows existing federal court procedural rules.
A second measure – AB 1354- now requires a party who objects to producing documents, tangible things et cetera to “provide sufficient factual information in its response for other parties to evaluate the merits of that claim, including, if necessary, a privilege log.”. In short, a party can no longer simply object but now must provide a privilege log.( AB 1354 ). This simply enacts existing case law.
Still on the beneficial side is SB 1264 which now includes as mandated “…reporters any athletic coach, including, but not limited to, an assistant coach or a graduate assistant involved in coaching at a public or private postsecondary institution.” as those who are required to report child abuse under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. ( SB 1264) Obviously, this is the result of the Penn State matter.
Another serious measure- SB 1047- creates the “Silver Alert” by now requiring the California Highway Patrol “… to activate a Silver Alert…” for those missing persons who are 65 years of age or older. Thus along with missing children, California motorists will now be notified about missing senior citizens. ( SB 1047) For us baby boomers, this will help us find the way home!
Moving to the lighter side of what our legislature was up to, AB 1658 allows California motorists to go back in time by ordering “…a specialized license plate that replicates plates from the state’s past” as long as 7,500 applications for any one particular license plate is received. The plates to be included in the California Legacy License Plate Program are those that were in use from 1956 to 1986. (So, if I now see an “old” license plate on a vehicle (e.g. yellow letters on black or blue background), I can no longer assume that the owner has kept the plate all these years!). ( AB 1658 )
The technology world definitely had its special interest lobbyists at work this past year. AB 1708 allows a motorist to provide proof of insurance coverage and/or financial responsibility via her electronic mobile device; the insurer provides electronic rather than paper verification to be shown upon request. ( AB 1708 ) ( What happens if the battery dies at the critical moment on the smart phone?)
Another technology driven law is AB 1536 which will now allow a driver “…to write, send or read a text based communication..” while driving so long as it is voice operated and hands free. In short, as long as your smart phone or tablet has a “personal assistant” who can take dictation and read e mails and texts to you, you can drive and text! ( AB 1536 ) (“Sari”, where are you? Can you hear me now?)
Closely related is SB 1310 which explains that “…
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