Experience that counts: McGeorge students make law and history
Californians won new rights and protections thanks to four bills developed by students at Pacific McGeorge School of Law and just signed into law by Gov. Brown:
~ Revenge porn victims can get offensive material taken off the Internet using a pseudonym.
~ Child care centers can consider job applicants' arrest warrants in hiring decisions.
~ Prisoners can seek a new trial if the scientific evidence that convicted them is later discredited.
~ And police will get training to recognize signs of elder abuse.
"It is rewarding to have our students not only studying the law on the books in the nation's most important state capital, but also helping to put those laws on the books," said Francis J. Mootz III, dean and professor of law at McGeorge.
The students were part of a new Legislative and Public Policy Clinic at McGeorge, the only program of its kind in California. Their assignment was to find an issue that could be addressed with a law — and make one.
"This process showed me that our generation can have an impact on something that is important to all of us," said Marisa Shea, one of the students who developed the "revenge porn" bill, AB 2643. "It speaks to the whole idea that we can do something that materially addresses problems in our society."
The 12 students in the inaugural clinic developed a total of five laws over the past year. Developing the measures required extensive research into existing law and discussions with advocacy groups. Next came crafting language and convincing a legislator to introduce the laws.
And then the real work started. Lobbying the measures meant finding a legislator to introduce the measure, drafting backgrounders for legislative staff, gathering support from sympathetic groups, orchestrating testimony, calling on members of key committees, and myriad other tasks entailed in turning an idea into a law. All five were introduced into the Legislature and made it out of their house of origin. Four reached the governor's desk and were signed into law at the end of September 2014. The clinic's four-for-five record is one to make any professional lobbyist envious.
"It's a testament to the notion that an individual can make a difference - if you're smart about it and know how to pick your fights," said Rex Frazier, adjunct professor of law at McGeorge, who teaches the innovative clinic. Learn more about the process and each of the new laws initiated by Pacific McGeorge law students >>
Watch this KCRA report about the bill introduced by Lexi Howard, Kristina Brown and Aaron Briano, which allows greater scrutiny of arrest records in background checks for workers in state licensed childcare centers.
Hear from Marisa Shea '14 in this Sacramento Bee article about her work on Assembly Bill 2643 that allows victims of revenge porn to use a pseudonym when filing complaints against someone who has posted sexually explicit photos on the internet.
Learn more about the process of lawmaking in this Capital Public Radio interview by Beth Ruyak of "Insight" with Professor Rex Frazier and two law students from the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic.