Hollywood Actress Angelina Jolie Publicly Supports Mandate for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Training for Judges
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a unanimous, bipartisan vote, the State Assembly today passed Piqui’s Law, by Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), which mandates judges take training on domestic violence and child abuse to prioritize child safety in custody proceedings and clarifies California’s ban on the use of dangerous reunification programs in family court.
Senate Bill 616, Piqui’s Law: Keeping Children Safe from Family Violence, is named for a 5-year-old murdered by his father. The boy’s mother, Ana Estevez, fought in family court to protect her son against her ex-husband before Piqui’s death. The bill will align with federal provisions within the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in order to receive funding to reform family court. The Assembly passed the bill in a 64-0.
“Children are being murdered because the legal system refuses to take responsibility for protecting them in family court,” said Senator Susan Rubio. “SB 616 will begin a fundamental change to prevent a parent from ever having to go through what Ana has. I am grateful to my coauthors and the State Assembly for the support, and I’m proud to work with Ana and the sponsor of the bill, Center for Judicial Excellence, to prevent one more child dying at the hands of an abuser.”
“This is a critical step needed to make child safety a priority in family court,” said Ana Estevez. “My Piqui was innocent, and he had the right to live a happy, abuse-free life. His murder was preventable. The California Legislature and Governor Newsom must be the voice for all our lost children and pass this bill immediately without hesitation.”
Ahead of its hearing in California’s Assembly Judiciary Committee, SB 616 received a key endorsement from filmmaker and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, who is internationally recognized for her advocacy for the rights of women and children, and who worked closely with experts and advocates for the reauthorization of VAWA to include provisions that prioritize children’s safety in our family court system, among other protections to address health, justice, and safety disparities.
In her letter to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Jolie wrote, “I have personally come to know Ana and am in awe of her courageous advocacy in her son’s memory on behalf of protective parents – fathers as well as mothers – across our country. I know that Piqui’s Law will prove lifesaving for other children and will help support the health and wellbeing of families across California.” Jolie stated, “[J]udges, mediators, and court professionals who are asked to make the most important decisions about a child’s wellbeing should receive proper training” on the dynamics of domestic violence, effects of trauma, and trauma-informed responses to abuse.
“The passage of SB 616 in the Assembly is a huge victory for the movement to reform California’s family courts and better protect domestic violence and child abuse survivors,” said Kathleen Russell, Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Excellence. “We have tracked at least 859 children who were murdered in the United States since 2008 by a divorcing or separating parent. We sincerely hope that forward-thinking SB 616 will help ensure that preventable tragedies like Piqui’s murder never happen again in California.”
SB 616 is supported by over a dozen domestic violence and child abuse advocacy groups, US Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the LA County Board of Supervisors.
Senator Susan Rubio represents Senate District 22. For more information, visit https://sd22.senate.ca.gov/