Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
February 25, 2016 – 3:43 PM

  • Governor’s sentencing measure hits legal roadblock
  • He caused it by delaying submission of initiative
  • Were he to prevail, system would be distorted even more

Jerry Brown may be fuming that a Superior Court judge has blocked, at least temporarily, his ballot measure to overhaul criminal sentencing laws.

If he wants someone to blame, he should look in the mirror.

The governor tried to short-circuit the process that initiative measures must endure to get to the signature-gathering phase.

Rather than merely submitting his measure to the attorney general for what’s called “title and summary,” he persuaded the sponsor of another measure dealing with juvenile justice to incorporate his much more extensive proposal as an amendment.

Since the juvenile justice measure was on the verge of clearance, the tactic offered Brown three advantages, to wit:

▪ It would avoid having a competing criminal justice measure on the ballot that might confuse or alienate voters.

▪ It would speed up processing, allowing Brown to begin the signature-gathering phase more quickly, no small matter given the large number of measures already in the field.

▪ It would essentially eliminate the usual 65-day waiting period that allows interested parties to review and comment on the title and summary, whose wording is often critical to passage or failure.

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