A proposed bill to protect immigrants when they testify in court was announced by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego on Friday.
Gonzalez Fletcher is teaming up with State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, on a bill that would prevent immigrants in the country illegally from “irrelevant” disclosures of their immigration status in open court.
If SB 785 becomes law, it would require that any questions about the immigration status of any witness, victim or defendant first be deemed by a judge to be relevant to the subject of the litigation.
“We can and should protect all California residents from inadvertent exposure when they are testifying in a courtroom,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “No one should have to decide between being a witness and being deported.”
This preliminary judicial determination will prevent disclosure of immigration status, which can deter witnesses from coming forward to testify in both criminal and civil cases.
SB 785 bars any reference to immigration status in court, unless it is first determined to be admissible. To establish admissibility, an attorney must persuade a judge in a private hearing before raising the issue in open court. The judge would then determine whether to allow the issue to be raised.
Since the bill would amend a portion of the Evidence Code that was set by the voters in 1982, it requires a two-thirds vote by the legislature. SB 785 would also include an urgency statute, which would make it effective immediately upon passage.
— City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: