By Nina Salarno Besselman, Initiative Proponent 

After failing to dissuade voters and donors from qualifying the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act” for the ballot — even after using blatant untruths and political arm-twisting to do so — former Governor Jerry Brown made a “hail Mary” play to keep this critical public safety measure from California voters by filing a lawsuit alleging it to be “unconstitutional.”

Not only was this suit clearly sour grapes on the Governor’s part — as he sees the initiative as criticizing (we say, fixing) key components of his “legacy” reforms — but it also lacked any legal foundation. In the legal world, that’s a big no-no.

In response to this bullying, our attorneys filed an “anti-SLAPP” motion to strike the former Governor’s lawsuit. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, and in layman’s terms is an intimidation tactic against members of the public who are exercising their constitutional rights. So, an ANTI-SLAPP motion argues that the original complaint is an infringement on the First Amendment right to petition our government — which the Governor’s lawsuit clearly was.

The court ruled in favor of our Anti-SLAPP motion, striking the Governor’s lawsuit. So, it was a win-win for Keep California Safe!

As the proponent of the initiative and a Deputy District Attorney myself, I can tell you this is a major victory for the initiative — and a huge defeat for our opponents. Keep California Safe is legally strong, is strong in the polls, and is growing in endorsements every day.

And to add insult to Governor Brown’s injury — for his misguided attempt to keep this initiative from the voters — the state was required to pay nearly $60,000 to the Keep California Safe committee to cover our attorneys’ fees. Californians should be offended on two counts — for Brown’s attempt to circumvent their right to vote, AND because his hubris cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

With this silliness behind us, we are more focused than ever on educating voters on the public safety benefits contained within the Keep California Safe initiative — which first and foremost will expand the state’s list of violent crimes to include those that are truly violent, such as rape of an unconscious person and pimping a child for sex, which are considered “non-violent” under current California law.

The Keep California Safe initiative also reforms theft laws to restore accountability for serial thieves and expand the crimes for which DNA can be collected — previously narrowed by Prop. 47 — to help solve rape, murder and other violent crimes, and to exonerate those wrongly accused. And it reforms
the law so felons who violate the terms of their release can be brought back to court and held accountable for such violations.

We’re grateful to the courts for recognizing the disingenuous nature of Governor Brown’s lawsuit and found in our favor. Californians deserve the right to be safe, and the right to vote YES on the Keep California Safe initiative in November 2020.

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