Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act Becomes Law!

by Chris Daley
Nation’s first law addressing use of panic strategies signed by California Governor
San Francisco, CA – The nation’s first bill to address use of panic strategies, the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act (AB 1160), was signed into law today by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Authored by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber and Sponsored by Equality California, the bill puts California firmly on record as opposing a defendant’s use of societal bias against their victim in order to decrease their own culpability for a crime.

"This is a victory for fairness in our criminal justice system and a tribute to the courage of Gwen Araujo,” said Assemblywoman Lieber of her bill that also modifies an existing jury instruction and mandates the creation of practice materials for District Attorney’s offices. “Too many Californians live with the very real fear that they will be victimized simply because of who they are. Making sure that our court system treats every one fairly, regardless of individual differences, is essential.”

“I’m overjoyed that the Governor saw fit to recognize that our state is one in which every person, including my daughter and other transgender people, must be valued," said Sylvia Guerrero, mother of Gwen Araujo. "My family and friends received a life sentence when Gwen was murdered. This victory means that our loss is making a difference, though, because we’re helping to prevent any other family from going through the same pain and misery."

Gwen Araujo, the bill’s namesake, was a 17 year old Newark, CA transgender teen who was murdered by four men in 2002. Three of the men utilized panic strategies when on trial for her murder in 2004. A 2005 Fresno County case against the killer of another transgender person, Joel Robles, ended in an alarming 4 year plea bargain. Newspaper reports quoted an Assistant District Attorney as attributing the light sentence, in part, to threatened use of panic strategies.

"Panic strategies are a cynical way for homicide defendants whose victims are members of a disfavored group to appeal to a jury’s worst impulses,” said Transgender Law Center Director Christopher Daley. “The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act is a significant step towards preventing the same societal bias that killed Gwen and Joel from affecting a jury’s deliberations. It’s signage into law also advances California’s status as the most protective state in the nation for transgender people.”

# # # 30 # # #

The Transgender Law Center (TLC) is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities throughout California through direct legal services, community organizing, media and public policy advocacy, and educational opportunities. TLC was an early supporter of the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victim’s Act. For more information, go to:
Add Your Comments
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Fri, Sep 29, 2006 4:43AM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$140.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network