Partner James Touchstone Provides Testimony to the California State Assembly

On Friday, December 18, Jones & Mayer partner James Touchstone offered his insights at a hearing of the California Assembly Select Committee on Police Reform. Drawing on his experience as General Counsel of the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, and the California Police Officers’ Association, James used his time to share the perspective of police management throughout the state regarding important actions pending before the legislature.

In his testimony, James expressed law enforcement management’s support for efforts to improve transparency and accountability throughout California in SB 1421. He also pointed out management’s support of the comprehensive use-of-force policies called for in SB 230 and the decertification procedures in AB 1299.

James also used his time to offer the perspective of his experience. He emphasized that most law enforcement agencies follow robust background check procedures before hiring new officers. Nevertheless, officers with problematic histories do sometimes get hired, and a comprehensive state-wide decertification bill is the proper way to address that issue.

He also noted the high success rate of Jones & Mayer’s work representing agencies in disciplinary hearings over the years suggests that barriers to discipline are being overstated by some. The decertification and transparency bills can provide meaningful improvements, both to administrative processes within agencies and to the public’s confidence in investigations.

James closed his testimony with several recommendations for the Assembly’s consideration. He encouraged a change to a requirement in SB 1421 that could result in early disclosure of details from internal affairs investigations to officers under investigation. He also encouraged further investment in body-worn cameras, internal affairs tracking programs, and training programs. In his view, these investments will be a better use of public funds than increasing civil liability for officer misconduct.

The testimony can be heard at about 2:40:00 of this video.

If you have questions about James’s testimony, please contact him at or by calling (714) 446-1400.