Senate Bill 155 (Deukmejian – 1977)
Chapter 316, Statutes of 1977
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Senator George Deukmejian, among numerous co-authors, introduced Senate Bill 155 on January 19, 1977. (See Exhibit #1a) The bill amended Military and Veterans Code section 1672, and amended, repealed, and added sixteen sections of the Penal Code with regard to punishment for crimes and the death penalty. (See Exhibit #1j) The bill was drafted by "a joint committee consisting of representatives from the California District Attorneys' Association, the California Peace Officers' Association, and the Attorney General's Office." (See Exhibit #4, document SP-8)
Senate Bill 155 was heard before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Assembly Committee on Criminal Procedure. (See Exhibits #3 and #7) It was fiercely contested while it was before the Legislature, but was ultimately approved by both Houses on May 27, 1977. Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. vetoed the measure that same day. (See Exhibits #12 and #13)
On June 23, 1977, the Senate voted to override the Governor's veto, and on August 11, 1977, the Assembly voted to override the Governor's veto. Senate Bill 155 is enacted on August 11, 1977 as Chapter 316 of the Statutes of 1977. (See Exhibits #1j and #2)
Chapter 316 was enacted as an urgency statute, taking effect immediately. The rationale for the urgency provided in section 26 of the bill stated:
The California Supreme Court has declared the existing death penalty law unconstitutional. This act remedies the constitutional infirmities found to be in existing law, and must take effect immediately in order to guarantee the public the protection inherent in an operative death penalty law.
(See Exhibit #1j, page 1266)