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Inventory of the California Senate Judiciary Committee Records
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Committee History
  • Additional Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Indexing Terms
  • Oral Histories of Committee Chairs
  • Related Materials at the California State Archives

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California Senate Judiciary Committee Records
    Dates: 1850-2008
    Collection number: See series descriptions
    Creator: California Senate Judiciary Committee
    Collection Size: 199 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    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: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information

    Access

    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

    Publication Rights

    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 collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Senate Judiciary Committee Records, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Committee History

    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, page 102).
    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, page 115).
    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.

    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.

    Accruals

    Further accruals are expected.

    Indexing Terms

    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 History Program
    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.
    Keene, Barry
    Smith, Jerry
    Song, Alfred H.
    Wilson, Bob
    Escutia, Martha
    Dunn, Joseph
    Calderon, Charles