Assemblymember Chu Introduces Bill to Expand Privacy Protection and Access to Courts for Victims of Crime and Stalking

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

CONTACT:    Annie Pham, (916) 319-2025

AB 800 would allow currently enrolled participants in the California Secretary of State’s Safe at Home Program to file court documents using a pseudonym

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Assemblymember Kansen Chu introduced Assembly Bill 800 to protect the right of victims of crime to have safe access to the justice system. This bill allows currently enrolled participants in the California Secretary of State’s Safe at Home Program to file court documents using a pseudonym such as Jane or John Doe. Currently, participants in the Safe at Home Program, including survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking, must submit their personal information to the courts in order to file with a civil court. This becomes public information, putting survivors at risk. This bill will protect survivors from risk of further harm by preventing disclosure of their personal information, such as their location.

“Survivors of domestic violence, stalking and other Californians protected under the Safe at Home Program should not be further victimized due to court filing requirements,” said Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose). “The Safe at Home program by all accounts has been a huge success. Unfortunately, there is a problem for participants in the program who may need to use the civil justice system: court filings and associated documents (including names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc.) are public records. This discloses survivors’ most personal information to their attacker, putting them in harm’s way. Currently, program participants are faced with a choice between using their rights in court and protecting themselves. For victims of crime and others who have taken the extraordinary step to shield themselves from harm through the Safe at Home Program, AB 800 will allow them access to the civil justice system without risking further harm from their abuser.”

Assemblymember Chu is collaborating with Calegislation on AB 800.

“Calegislation is honored to partner with Assemblymember Chu as the bill’s sponsor. Calegislation works to ensure the safety of victims of crime and others through protecting their right to privacy. We are proud to be advocates for the Safe at Home Program and those Californians who need that program’s protection.

Safe at Home Confidential Address Program Participants are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. They want and need to keep their information off public court records for their safety, and are in near constant fear of their lives. This fear is strong enough that many do not feel free to file court motions, because once their names are published on court filings, their names and court venue are public. Their abuser can track the victim with this information. As a consequence, if the matter comes down to filing a court action or not, they won’t file. AB 800 gives them back the right so many of us take for granted, to be able to have their day in court.”

In 1998, the Legislature established the Safe at Home Program within the Office of the Secretary of State to allow victims of domestic violence to apply for a substitute address to be used in public records in order to prevent their assailants, or potential assailants, from finding their work or home address. Through subsequent legislation, the program has been expanded to include victims of sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse, human trafficking, reproductive health care service providers, employees, volunteers, and patients.

AB 800 provides that a person who is an active participant in the Safe at Home Program and who is a party in a civil proceeding may use a pseudonym, and may exclude or redact from all pleadings and documents filed in the action other identifying characteristics of the plaintiff. A plaintiff who proceeds using a pseudonym shall file with the court and serve upon the defendant a confidential information form for this purpose that includes the plaintiff’s name and other identifying characteristics excluded or redacted. The court and parties shall keep the plaintiff’s name and excluded or redacted characteristics confidential.

Assemblymember Kansen Chu is proud to represent the 25th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, Santa Clara and San Jose.

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