Legislature(2009 - 2010)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/26/2010 01:30 PM House FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 52                                                                                                             
     "An Act authorizing psychological counseling for                                                                           
     jurors serving in criminal trials who are traumatized                                                                      
     by graphic evidence or testimony."                                                                                         
Co-Chair Hawker discussed housekeeping.                                                                                         
1:41:41 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Beth Kerttula presented  a brief  overview of                                                                   
the legislation.  The bill  would allow  the court  system to                                                                   
offer juror counseling for particularly difficult cases.                                                                        
DOUG   WOLLIVER,   ADMINISTRATIVE  ATTORNEY,   ALASKA   COURT                                                                   
SYSTEM, discussed  the$15,000 fiscal note. He  explained that                                                                   
during  the  process  to  approximate  the  fiscal  note,  he                                                                   
solicited judges,  asking them  how often they  believed that                                                                   
juror counseling  would be needed.  Most judges  offered that                                                                   
they  rarely  saw  cases  where  juror  counseling  would  be                                                                   
necessary,   but   all   the   judges   relayed   that   they                                                                   
occasionally  heard  traumatic   cases.  Several  judges  had                                                                   
revealed  that   they  had  entered   the  jury   room  after                                                                   
deliberation and found jurors who were inconsolable.                                                                            
Co-Chair Hawker  submitted that it  was not possible  to know                                                                   
how much  would be required  for the counseling  program, but                                                                   
it was  certain that the  services compulsory under  the bill                                                                   
would  require  the  court  system to  procure  staff  on  an                                                                   
outside  contractual basis.  Mr. Wolliver  replied that  that                                                                   
was correct.                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Hawker   assumed  that   the  fiscal  note   was  a                                                                   
reasonable approximation. Mr. Wolliver replied yes.                                                                             
1:44:39 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair   Thomas   declared    that   he   supported   the                                                                   
legislation.  He  relayed that  he  would understand  if  the                                                                   
program needed  to request more  funding in the  supplemental                                                                   
Co-Chair Hawker dismissed Mr. Wolliver with appreciation.                                                                       
1:45:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MINDY LOBAUGH, JUNEAU,  read from a prepared  testimony (copy                                                                   
on file):                                                                                                                       
     Mr. Chairman & Members of the Committee, Thank you for                                                                     
this opportunity and all you do for the State of Alaska.                                                                        
     This bill represents a bridge, a bridge that I and                                                                         
many  other  jurors  did  not  have at  the  end  of  a  very                                                                   
traumatic trial.                                                                                                                
      You arrive at the courthouse, given detailed                                                                              
instruction of  what is expected  of you  as a juror  and how                                                                   
the process  of a  trial works.  What the  court system  does                                                                   
not do is transition the juror out of the trial.                                                                                
     It is not uncommon to have major criminal trials run                                                                       
for many  days. I served  as a juror  on the Rachel  Waterman                                                                   
trial 4  years ago and it  lasted approximately 10  days. For                                                                   
me I arrived open  and ready to do my civic  duty as a juror.                                                                   
And for  10 days  prosecutors went  into excruciating  detail                                                                   
to  help the  jurors  relive the  events  of an  unsuspecting                                                                   
mother getting abducted  from her home, tortured  and finally                                                                   
     It was then our duty to determine if the defendant,                                                                        
her  daughter  was  guilty  of   masterminding  this  tragedy                                                                   
against a  woman who was  a pillar of  her community.  By the                                                                   
end of  the trial I  left there as  a victim feeling  closed,                                                                   
mentally  battered  and very  traumatized  by  the burden  of                                                                   
knowledge that I now carried.                                                                                                   
     I am here to tell you the media does not even come                                                                         
close to  covering the  depth of  this trial.  As a  juror we                                                                   
had  access to  piles of  emails detailing  out various  ways                                                                   
these  men planned  to kill  the  mother, physical  evidence,                                                                   
photographs and of course hours of testimony.                                                                                   
     For quite some time during and following that trial                                                                        
eating  for  me  was a  near  impossibility  because  of  the                                                                   
constant nausea I felt.                                                                                                         
     To my friends and family I became a stranger……and each                                                                     
night I prayed myself to sleep.                                                                                                 
     One of my fellow jury mates was pregnant with her                                                                          
second child.  She had shared  her excitement  and ultrasound                                                                   
pictures with us  early on. By the end of the  trial she lost                                                                   
her baby and had to be excused from the trial.                                                                                  
     When this trial ended with a hung jury I turned to the                                                                     
presiding  judge and  ask if the  courts offer  some kind  of                                                                   
counseling  or process  to  help jurors  deal  with all  this                                                                   
traumatizing information? The answer was NO.                                                                                    
     For me it was like having a door slammed in my face.                                                                       
There would be  no help transitioning back to  my life before                                                                   
this trial,  no bridge. Rather  I would have to  move forward                                                                   
with this  dark knowledge  deeply entrenched  in my  mind and                                                                   
the minds of my fellow jurors.                                                                                                  
     It was at this point I felt the court system had                                                                           
failed me as a juror doing my civic duty.                                                                                       
Mr. Chairman,  Members of  the Committee,  Please help  me to                                                                   
build  this  bridge  by  supporting HB  52  Post  Trial  Jury                                                                   
Counseling.  I may not  have found  closure with respects  to                                                                   
this  trial but  maybe you  can  help build  that bridge  for                                                                   
future Jurors doing their civic duty by passing HB 52.                                                                          
Thank  you  so much  for  your  time and  I  am open  to  any                                                                   
questions you may have.                                                                                                         
1:49:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Kerttula  explained  that a  similar  program                                                                   
had  been instituted  in King  County,  Washington, and  that                                                                   
she had  spoken with  a myriad  of counselors in  researching                                                                   
the bill.                                                                                                                       
1:50:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Fairclough  wondered   if  counselors   were                                                                   
available  for the  judges  who sat  in  on traumatic  cases.                                                                   
Representative  Kerttula replied that  she did not  think so.                                                                   
She  shared that  while researching  the bill,  the level  of                                                                   
professional trauma  had been highlighted. She  believed that                                                                   
legislation could  be crafted that  could speak to  the needs                                                                   
of courtroom professionals.                                                                                                     
Representative  Fairclough  added  that  the  issue  was  the                                                                   
risk  of   desensitization  among  courtroom   professionals.                                                                   
Representative Kerttula agreed.                                                                                                 
1:51:58 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stoltze  asked if the  counseling sessions  would be                                                                   
privileged.   Representative   Kerttula  replied   that   the                                                                   
information  would be  privileged  unless  the client  waived                                                                   
the right to privilege.                                                                                                         
Representative  Salmon  asked  how the  counseling  would  be                                                                   
made  available  to  jurors  who   resided  in  rural  areas.                                                                   
Representative  Kerttula  expected   that  the  court  system                                                                   
would treat  rural and  urban jurors  equally. If  necessary,                                                                   
counselors  would be  flown in  to  rural areas  in order  to                                                                   
provide the service.                                                                                                            
1:53:39 PM                                                                                                                    
HANNAH MCCARTY,  STAFF, KERTTULA, added that  tele-counseling                                                                   
could also be provided as an option in rural areas.                                                                             
Co-Chair  Hawker  noted  that  judges,  as  state  employees,                                                                   
could use  state employment insurance  to pay  for counseling                                                                   
1:54:26 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hawker opened public testimony.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Hawker closed public testimony.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Hawker solicited  further  committee testimony  and                                                                   
Co-Chair  Stoltze MOVED  to  report HB  52  out of  Committee                                                                   
with individual  recommendations and the  accompanying fiscal                                                                   
note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                              
HB  52  was  REPORTED  out of  Committee  with  a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  the previously  published  fiscal  note:                                                                   
FN2 (CRT).                                                                                                                      
1:56:33 PM     AT EASE                                                                                                        
1:58:30 PM     RECONVENED                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB52 Sponsor Statement[1].pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52
10-02-26 HB 52 Letters of Support.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52
HB 52 Backup Support Articles.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52
HB 52 Letter Violent Crimes Comp. Board.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52
HB235 Rural Health Research.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 AK Dental Society Letter.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Sponsor Statement[1].pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 States Loan Forgiveness Provisions.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235- statistics[1].doc HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Wiche Report.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 WICHE Tuition -pharmacy school.xls HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB235Barrans Ltr & DOL opinion.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB325 HB326 Stoltze Handout.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 325
HB 326
Memo re changes for CS.HB235.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
sectional analysis HB235.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
Copy of Dentist-Opt-Pharm geo dist 1-2010HB235.xls HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
AKOA Letter of Support HB 235.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 235
HB 235 State Dental Loan Repayment Programs - Examples from Other States.doc HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52 Fiscal Note Backup.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52
HB 52 Testimony.pdf HFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 52