Scope and Content
Oral Histories of Committee Chairs
Related Materials at the California State Archives
Title: California Senate Judiciary Committee Records
Collection number: See series descriptions
California Senate Judiciary Committee
199 cubic feet
California State Archives
Abstract: The records of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and its related subcommittees contain approximately 199 cubic feet of textual
materials, 1700 cassette tapes, 51 CDs, and 26 VHS tapes. The records are organized with the records of the Standing Committee
first, followed alphabetically by the names of the Subcommittees.
Physical location: California State Archives
Languages represented in the collection:
While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.
For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication
is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility
for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives
[Identification of item], Senate Judiciary Committee Records, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office
of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was among the first committees created during California's first legislative session. On December
21, 1849, the third standing committee of the Senate to be created was that of Judiciary (1850 Senate Journal, page 28). Initially,
the Senate Judiciary Committee was granted jurisdiction over "so much as relates to hanging for stealing," any "Act of Congress
in relation to the grant of swamp and overflowed land," and any "repeal, amendment, or enactment of laws" (Ibid., page 51).
In 1854, the standing committee's focus was substantially narrowed to address matters which "[relate] to amendments of the
State Constitution" (1854 Senate Journal, page 58).
The jurisdiction of the committee remained relatively the same over the intervening period. By 1945, the Senate Judiciary
Committee had expanded its scope to include "all bills amending the following codes: Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure,
Probate Code, Penal Code, and [all] statutes of a penal nature not related closely to a subject embraced in some other code"
(Legislative Committees: 1945-1946, page 20.1). In 1953, the Senate Judiciary Committee added "Corporations Code, except for
Corporate Securities Act" to their jurisdiction, where it remained until 1969 (Legislative Committees: 1953-1954, page 15;
California Legislature Handbook 1969, page 131). In 1967, bills amending the Evidence Code were added to the standing committee's
range of topics (Legislative Committees 1967, page 51). In 1975, the Senate Judiciary Committee's scope was again expanded
to include "Bills relating to municipal and state court judgeships, court attaches and personnel" and "Bills, relating to
corporations, that do not affect the Corporate Securities Act." "Bills relating to corporations" were removed from the standing
committee's bill assignation in 1983 (California Legislature Handbook 1975, page 109; California Legislature Handbook 1983,
page 96). In 1981, "Bills relating to the Youth and Adult Corrections Agency" were added to the Senate Judiciary Committee's
scope (California Legislature Handbook 1981, page 97). In 1985, the standing committee's focus on bills amending the Civil
Code was more strictly defined to exclude "measures related to retail credit claims" (California Legislature Handbook 1985,
In 1995, the Senate Judiciary Committee significantly revised much of its prior scope. Jurisdiction over the Evidence Code
was more strictly defined to exclude "matters relating to criminal procedure," the addendum to the Civil Code was revised
to exclude "measures related to retail credit interest rates," and bills related to the Youth and Adult Corrections Agency
were removed entirely (California Legislature Handbook 1995, page 103). Additionally, in 1995 the standing committee added
bills amending the Family Code to their broad range of topics.
As of 2010, the Senate Judiciary Committee's jurisdiction statement included the following topics: Civil Code, except measures
related to retail credit interest rates; Code of Civil Procedure; Evidence Code, except matters relating to criminal procedure;
Family Code; Probate Code; Bills relating to municipal and state court judgeships, court attaches, and personnel; and bills
relating to liens, claims, and unclaimed property, collections, and franchises (California Legislature Handbook 2009-2010,
The Senate Judiciary Committee member's head count has fluctuated over the course of its history. Claiming as few as three
members, as in 1850, and as many as twenty, as in 1905 and 1907, the standing committee's membership has averaged about twelve
members. However, as of the 2009-2010 legislative session, the committee was comprised of only five members.
For a complete list of committee chairs, please see Appendix A in Additional Information.
Scope and Content
The records of the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary and its related subcommittees contain approximately 199 cubic feet
of textual materials, 1700 cassette tapes, 51 CDs, and 26 VHS tapes. The records are organized with the records of the Standing
Committee first, followed alphabetically by the names of the Subcommittees. The series described throughout this record group
include Bill Files (1969-2004), Hearing Files (1850-1986), Subject Files (1961-1979), Correspondence (1857-1982), Minutes
(1862-1895), and Reports (1850-1979).
The Bill Files document the legislative bills directed to the Standing Committee on Judiciary and the Subcommittee on Administration
of Justice. The files include committee analysis, letters from interested parties, and the comments of affected agencies.
Bill files are extremely useful to researchers seeking to track the evolution of a bill and to gauge the public's response
to specific legislation. From 1995 to 2004, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard thousands of bills covering a broad range
of topics. Some recurring issues addressed during this period include: mobile home regulations, elder and dependent abuse,
public records, eminent domain, internet privacy, child custody, adoption, domestic violence, gender discrimination, payday
lenders, and workplace harassment. This diverse subject range reflects the broad reach and scope of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Hearing Files pertain to the committee's investigation of certain topics. The files include agendas, transcripts, precedent
and background materials, internal and external correspondence from interested parties, and relevant news clippings. Researchers
may note that Hearing Files from earlier sessions of the standing committee are available in the form of bound transcripts,
whereas more recent files frequently include audio cassettes in the place of text. Hearing files may originate from either
the standing committees or subcommittees.
The Subject Files contain various types of information deemed useful to the committee. In the course of drafting legislation
and holding hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee usually requires a fair amount of supplemental data regarding their respective
topics. These files include additional information on an existing bill or hearing file, material related to proposed legislation,
or documents related to committee administration. The subject files inventoried here originated from the standing committee
between the years 1961 to 1979. The topics, ranging from Family Court to traffic, again illustrate the expansive scope of
the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Other file types originating from the Senate Judiciary Committee include Correspondence, Reports, and Minutes. The Correspondence
series contains letters and memoranda relevant to the committee. Authors, recipients, subjects, and dates may vary greatly.
Types of documents include hearing schedules, pending and proposed legislation, bills referred for study, press releases,
and news clippings. The Reports document the committee's findings on various topics of study referred to them. These files
originate from the standing committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics Trafficking. The Minutes document the proceedings
of a meeting of the committee on a specific date. As these files are from the earliest years of the committee's history,
they originate only from the standing committee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee records also include the records of many subcommittees. The subcommittee files focus on specific
judicial issues and contain material such as public hearing files, bill files, reports, and correspondence.
Further accruals are expected.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
California. Legislature. Senate. Committee on Judiciary
California. Legislature. Senate. Committee on Judiciary. Subcommittee on Narcotics Trafficking
California. Legislature. Senate. Judiciary Subcommittee on Corrections Law Enforcement Agencies
Oral Histories of Committee Chairs
Burton, John L., Oral History Interview, 1986-1987, Conducted by Julie Shearer, Oral History Program, Regional Oral History
Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, For the California State Archives State Government Oral
Calderon, Charles, Oral History Interview, 2003, Conducted by Lawrence B. de Graaf, Center for Oral and Public History, California
State University, Fullerton, For the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program
Keene, Barry, Oral History Interview, 1994, Conducted by Carole Hicke, Oral History Program, Regional Oral History Office,
University of California, Berkeley, For the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program
Rains, Omer L., Oral History Interview, 1990, Conducted by Arlene Lazarowitz, Oral History Program, California State University,
Fullerton, For the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program
Song, Alfred H., Oral History Interview, 1986, Conducted by Raphael J. Sonenshein, Oral History Program, California State
University Fullerton, For the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program
Related Materials at the California State Archives
Assembly Judiciary Committee
Burton, John L.
Song, Alfred H.