Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

02/26/2010 01:00 PM House JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 138(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 331(JUD) Out of Committee
              HB 52 - POST-TRIAL JUROR COUNSELING                                                                           
1:25:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 52, "An Act  authorizing psychological counseling                                                               
for  jurors serving  in criminal  trials who  are traumatized  by                                                               
graphic evidence or testimony."                                                                                                 
1:25:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BETH KERTTULA,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
explained  that HB  52 was  engendered  by the  experiences of  a                                                               
constituent  who'd  sat on  the  jury  in the  Rachelle  Waterman                                                               
murder trial, a particularly difficult  case; her constituent had                                                               
suggested that it  might be a good idea for  the State to provide                                                               
psychological counseling to  jurors who hear such  cases in order                                                               
to alleviate  the trauma they  experience when  hearing testimony                                                               
and evidence  about particularly heinous crimes.   In conclusion,                                                               
she said she would appreciate the committee's support of HB 52.                                                                 
The committee took an at-ease from 1:27 p.m. to 1:31 p.m.                                                                       
1:31:56 PM                                                                                                                    
HANNA McCARTY, Staff, Representative  Beth Kerttula, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, explained  on behalf of the  sponsor, Representative                                                               
Kerttula, that HB  52's proposed AS 12.45.018(a)  provides that a                                                               
trial  judge may  offer  not  more than  10  hours of  post-trial                                                               
psychological counseling without charge to  a juror who serves on                                                               
a   trial  involving   extraordinarily   graphic,  gruesome,   or                                                               
emotional evidence or testimony.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON, noting  that he  supports the  concept of                                                               
the bill, questioned whether the  term, "extraordinarily" as used                                                               
in the bill is already defined in statute.                                                                                      
MS. McCARTY relayed that she would have to research that point.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  opined that  it is necessary  to include                                                               
that term because  there could be a lot of  other types of trials                                                               
that  involve   graphic,  gruesome,  or  emotional   evidence  or                                                               
testimony.   House  Bill 52  is  intended to  apply to  extremely                                                               
graphic,    extremely    gruesome,   or    extremely    emotional                                                               
evidence/testimony.  She  surmised that as used in  the bill, the                                                               
term,  "extraordinarily"  would  be  interpreted  as  having  the                                                               
normal dictionary definition.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON  questioned  who would  determine  whether                                                               
testimony or  evidence is  extraordinarily graphic,  gruesome, or                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA explained  that  it would  be the  trial                                                               
judge who would make that determination.                                                                                        
MS.  McCARTY  went  on  to  explain  that  HB  52's  proposed  AS                                                               
12.45.018(b) specifies  which crimes  the trials for  which could                                                               
warrant post-trial  psychological counseling  for jurors.   Those                                                               
crimes  include:   murder under  AS 11.41.100  and AS  11.41.110,                                                               
manslaughter  under AS  11.41.120, criminally  negligent homicide                                                               
under  AS 11.41.130,  felonious assault  under AS  11.41.200-220,                                                               
and a sexual offense under  AS 11.41.410-460.  She also explained                                                               
that  HB  52's  proposed  AS   12.45.018(c)(1)  states  that  the                                                               
counseling must occur  not later than 180 days after  the jury is                                                               
dismissed;  and  that  HB 52's  proposed  AS  12.45.018(b)(2)-(3)                                                               
states that the  counseling may be provided by  the court system,                                                               
by a  state agency,  or by  contract, and that  it may  be either                                                               
individual or group counseling.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG, on  the issue of the  definition of the                                                               
term,   "extraordinarily",  predicted   that   the  court   would                                                               
determine  on a  case-by-case  basis whether  a particular  trial                                                               
warranted post-trial psychological counseling.                                                                                  
1:39:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MINDY LOBAUGH remarked  that HB 52 represents a  bridge, a bridge                                                               
that she  and many  other jurors  did not  have at  the end  of a                                                               
trial.  She went on to say:                                                                                                     
     You arrive  at the  court, given  detailed instructions                                                                    
     of  what is  expected of  you as  a juror  and how  the                                                                    
     process of the trial will  work.  What the court system                                                                    
     does not  do is  transition jurors  out of  the process                                                                    
     after  a trial.    It  is not  uncommon  to have  major                                                                    
     criminal  trials run  for many  days.   As you  know, I                                                                    
     served on  the Rachelle Waterman trial  four years ago,                                                                    
     and it  lasted approximately  ... 10 days.   For  me, I                                                                    
     arrived open and ready to do  my civic duty as a juror,                                                                    
     and by the end of the  trial, I left there as a victim,                                                                    
     feeling closed,  confused, and very traumatized  by the                                                                    
     burden of knowledge I now carried.                                                                                         
     For  10 days,  prosecutors  went into  great detail  to                                                                    
     help the  jurors relive the  events of  an unsuspecting                                                                    
     mother getting  abducted from  her home,  tortured, and                                                                    
     finally murdered.  It was  our duty to determine if the                                                                    
     defendant,  her daughter,  was guilty  of masterminding                                                                    
     this tragedy  against a woman  who was a pillar  in her                                                                    
     community.   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  e-mails that                                                                    
     detailed  out various  ways these  men planned  to kill                                                                    
     the  mother; the  physical  evidence; the  photographs;                                                                    
     and,  of course,  the hours  of testimony  that we  sat                                                                    
     For quite  some time  during and following  that trial,                                                                    
     eating,  for me,  was a  near impossibility  because of                                                                    
     how  sickened  I  was  from this  experience.    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  the ultrasound  pictures with us  early on;                                                                    
     by the end  of the trial, she lost her  baby and had to                                                                    
     be excused.  When this trial  ended with a hung jury, I                                                                    
     turned  to  the presiding  judge  and  I asked  if  the                                                                    
     courts  offer some  kind of  counseling  or process  to                                                                    
     help  jurors deal  with this  traumatizing information.                                                                    
     The answer was no.                                                                                                         
     For me, it  was like having a door slammed  in my face,                                                                    
     and  then  you turn  around  and  you find  there's  no                                                                    
     bridge to help me return to  the life that I had before                                                                    
     this trial, ...  a life that did not hold  this kind of                                                                    
     dark knowledge.  It was at  this point I felt the court                                                                    
     had failed me  as a juror doing my civic  duty.  Please                                                                    
     help  me to  build the  bridge  by supporting  HB 52  -                                                                    
     post-trial  jury  counseling.   I  may  not have  found                                                                    
     closure  with [respect]  ... to  this trial,  but maybe                                                                    
     you can  bridge that for  the jurors doing  their civic                                                                    
     duties in the future, by passing HB 52.                                                                                    
1:43:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  noted that  while that trial  was going                                                               
on,  it even  affected  many  of the  people  who  worked in  the                                                               
Capitol,  right  across  the  street  from  the  courthouse,  and                                                               
surmised  that the  media accounts  of that  trial couldn't  have                                                               
accurately  portrayed  what  the  jurors  must  have  been  going                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG mentioned  that he  has sat  on several                                                               
coroner's juries  - once having  had to  declare a friend  of his                                                               
dead - and that sitting on such juries can also be traumatizing.                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 52.                                                                                      
1:45:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved  to report HB 52  out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  objected for the purpose  of demonstrating a                                                               
roll call vote.                                                                                                                 
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Dahlstrom, Herron,                                                               
Lynn, Gruenberg,  and Ramras  voted in favor  of reporting  HB 52                                                               
from committee.   No one voted against it.   Therefore, HB 52 was                                                               
reported from  the House Judiciary  Standing Committee by  a vote                                                               
of 5-0.                                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 hearing request HB 138.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
02 HB138 Sponsor Statement 2.5.10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
03 HB138 version S.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
04 HB138 Bill CS v. T.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
05 explanation of changes from original HB 138.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
06 HB138-LAW-CRIM-02-12-10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
07 HB138 DOC FN.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
08 HB138 Support.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
09 AS 11 61 140.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
01 HB323 HJUD Hearing request.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
02 HB323 Bill v. A.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
03 HB323 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
04 HB323-ACS-02-03-10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
05 HB323-AJC-AJC-2-8-10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
01 HB52 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52
02 HB52 Bill v. A.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52
03 HB52-CT-FN.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52
04 HB52 Support.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52