Monday, March 06, 2006

Trial challenging Prop. 71 ends on March 2, 2006

The trial challenging California's landmark stem cell agency began on Monday, February 27 and concluded Thursday, March 2, 2006 in an Alameda County courtroom. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw heard testimony in the nonjury trial in her Hayward courtroom, which focused on the agency's structure.

The state has been unable to issue any of the $3 billion in bonds allocated to the stem cell institute under Proposition 71 because of the legal challenge. The agency now is relying on donations to keep basic operations going.

Closing arguments were submitted in writing to the court Thursday. Sabraw has asked for post-trial briefs to be submitted in the next two weeks. She will take the trial under submission beginning March 15.

A conclusion to the case, with appeals, is not expected for about 15 months. [from CIO/Oakland Tribune]

Also, from the Contra Costa Times:

Article 16 of the California Constitution states, "No money shall ever be appropriated or drawn from the State Treasury for the purpose or benefit of any corporation, association, asylum, hospital, or any other institution not under the exclusive management and control of the state as a state institution."
However, Prop. 71 is itself a constitutional amendment, which should trump state statutes on conflict of interest. Prop. 71 created Article 35, which appears to override Article 16.
Article 35 states, "Notwithstanding any other provision of this constitution or any law, the (stem cell) institute, which is established in state government, may utilize state issued tax-exempt and taxable bonds to fund its operations, medical and scientific research, including therapy development through clinical trials, and facilities."
As for conflict-of-interest concerns, the stem-cell institute operates like other state boards, which recommend funding for specific projects. Who better to make research funding decisions than those who are knowledgeable about stem-cell science?


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