By Patrick McGreevy
11:22 AM PST, January 31, 2014
SACRAMENTO -- Two days after he was convicted of eight felonies for perjury and voter fraud, state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) introduced a bill that would allow some nonviolent felonies to be converted to misdemeanors.
However, a spokesman for Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the bill will not be allowed out of the Senate Rules Committee for a vote.
"Regardless of any merits of the bill, wrong author, wrong time," said Rhys Williams, a spokesman for Steinberg.
Later, a Wright spokeswoman defended the bill, but said the Senator would not oppose the decision to put the bill on hold.
"Senator Wright has worked for many years on issues of fairness in sentencing and ‘second-chance legislation’ with various community groups – including the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights – and was only continuing those ongoing efforts with the introduction of SB 929," said Jennifer Hanson, a spokeswoman for Wright.
"However, he recognizes that public perception under present circumstances casts a different light on his involvement with this issue, and he will not be moving the bill," Hanson said.
She said the bill was not intended to apply to Wright's own case, but she needed to consult with experts to determine whether it technically could have applied.
SB 929 was introduced by Wright Thursday, two days after a Los Angeles jury found Wright guilty of eight felonies. Prosecutors argued Wright lied about living in his senate district when he ran for election.
The new bill would require a judge to deem a felony as a misdemeanor “if the court finds that certain circumstances apply.”
The circumstances include “that the defendant was not imprisoned in the state prison for the offense, the offense for which the defendant was convicted was not a serious or violent felony, as defined, the offense does not require registration as a sex offender, the defendant is not currently charged with and has not been convicted of an offense in the preceding five years, except as specified, and the defendant presents clear and convincing evidence that he or she has been rehabilitated.”
Wright has been stripped of a committee chairmanship, but still sits on the Senate budget, energy and human services committees and can push bills through the process as a senator in good standing.
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