SACRAMENTO — The Senate on Thursday rejected a bill--prompted by the verdicts in the Rodney G. King beating case--that would introduce racial demographics as a factor when a judge picks a different site for a criminal trial.
The author, Sen. Milton Marks (D-San Francisco), took steps to revive the measure, but it could be running out of time as the Legislature's 1992 session winds down.
Marks' proposal would require a judge, when deciding to transfer a felony case, to hold a hearing to determine the location.
Among the factors the judge could consider would be the racial and gender makeup of the counties likely to be given the case. "It just provides two more items that a judge can consider," said a Marks aide. "We still invest enormous discretion with the judge."
Supporters say the bill would prevent a repeat of the situation in which four white Los Angeles police officers accused of beating King, a black man, were acquitted of all but one charge in largely white Simi Valley.
The jury, which contained no blacks, deadlocked on the remaining charge against one officer. The verdicts set off widespread rioting in Los Angeles.
The bill fell six votes short of passing on a 21-12 vote. It needed a two-thirds majority of the 40-seat Senate to pass because it would have taken effect immediately.