A woman with long brown hair wearing a black blouse and a light colored jacket smiles facing the camera.

California Could Allow Electronic Recording in Civil and Family Court, Helping Poor Litigants

State Sen. Susan Rubio has introduced a bill that would allow California’s 58 trial courts to digitally record civil and family law cases, a controversial effort to address statewide courtroom staffing shortages that deprive low-income litigants of official court transcripts. Court reporters provide verbatim documentation of proceedings that are critical to filing appeals, reviewing judges’ behavior and reading back proceedings to jurors.

Phil Ting – District 19 State Assembly Member Candidate Response

The Public Press invited candidates to share audio responses to questions that we formed using survey responses from the San Francisco community. Candidates for District 19 State Assembly were given the following question:We asked San Francisco residents to tell us about the most pressing issues in their districts. According to survey responses we received, homelessness and housing affordability are the top concerns citywide. If you are elected to the State Assembly, what do you plan to do about these issues?

Lesley Hu with her son Pierce O’Loughlin. Pierce’s father murdered the nine-year-old in January 2021 after a San Francisco family court judge rejected his mother’s appeal for sole custody.

When Judges Dismiss Claims of Domestic Abuse, Children Can Die

Lawmakers, experts and advocates across California are pushing for legislation that would make judges take regular training in recognizing domestic violence and child abuse. The crusade is an attempt to lessen the chances that a judge will place a child in the custody of a dangerous parent. Family court judges routinely decide that domestic abuse claims are not credible and grant custody to the allegedly abusive parent. But making the wrong call can end with children losing their lives.

State Sen. Susan Rubio, who introduced a senate bill to expand the California Family Code to include coercive control in family court hearings and criminal trials, speaks about the need to keep children of domestic violence survivors safe in front of Los Angeles City Hall on June 27, 2022.

Coercive Control Victims Face Skeptical Judges, Court Transcripts Show

On average in the U.S., more than 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men, will experience physical violence, rape or stalking by an intimate partner, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Nevertheless, when victims turn to family court for protection from their abusers, they often face skeptical judges. And that’s especially true when the abuse doesn’t leave a mark.

A Native American woman in a blue shirt and black jacket sits on a chair in a forested area near a house.

California Indian Tribes Denied Resources for Decades as Federal Acknowledgement Lags

In the last 13 years, the U.S. Department of Interior has actively reviewed applications for acknowledgement of only 18 tribes, even as hundreds remain in line. The Public Press has identified more than 400 tribes seeking federal recognition and is working to confirm that 200 others with publicly listed applications are genuine.

Many have been waiting for decades. The Death Valley TimbiSha Shoshone Band is the only California tribe that has been recognized in the 44 years since the federal acknowledgement process was established.

A car with a Lyft sign drives along a city street.

Uber, Lyft Must Adopt Measures to Prevent Sexual Assaults, California Regulator Rules

Nine years after becoming the first agency in the nation to legalize ride-hailing — and after thousands of publicized sexual assaults on Uber and Lyft rides — the California Public Utilities Commission for the first time is requiring the industry to adopt comprehensive measures to prevent such attacks.

In a previously unreported vote last month, the commission issued a decision requiring that all ride-hailing firms train drivers to avoid sexual assault and harassment, adopt procedures for investigating complaints and use uniform terminology in their annual reports to the agency so it can accurately monitor them.

The entrance to Los Angeles Superior Court's Stanley Mosk Courthouse is shown, with three robed stone figures above the doorway.

‘I Was Not Allowed to Have My Own Thoughts’: California Courts Start Penalizing Psychological Domestic Abuse

While not all California judges are sympathetic to the stories of intimate partners who claim emotional abuse, and some even exhibit misogynistic conduct, others have shown an interest in using new legal tools to give the benefit of the doubt to people who say they are victims.

In a Los Angeles-area case, a judge acknowledged the evolving understanding of domestic violence to include psychological abuse, and extensively cited the state’s new coercive control law in his ruling.