Ileana Gutiérrez sheds tears during a Sacramento news conference. On the left is state Sen. Susan Rubio, D-West Covina.
The State Senate Judiciary on Tuesday, April 25, passed Senate Bill 331, Piqui’s Law, by state Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), which if ultimately signed by the governor would require reforms to family courts and the judicial system with a goal of ensuring a child’s safety in custody proceedings.
The bill is named after 5-year-old Aramazd Andressian Jr., known as “Piqui,” who was murdered by his father in 2017. Before the boy’s death, his mother, Ana Estevez, fought in family court to protect her son against her ex-husband before Piqui’s death.
Ever since, Estevez has worked to persuade lawmakers to pass the bill.
“Protecting our children should always be a priority, but the legal system failed Piqui, and so many other children,” Rubio said in a statement. “SB 331 will begin a systematic change in family court to prevent another family from suffering such pain. I’m proud to work with Ana Estevez and other advocates on Piqui’s Law to prevent one more child from dying. I am so proud of 10 year-old Zoe Winenger, who bravely testified on the unnecessary trauma she suffered as a result of a reunification camp.”
The bill would direct the Judicial Council – which sets policy and rules for judges in California – to establish training on domestic violence and child abuse as part of the continuous education judges and other specified individuals performing duties in family law matters. It would establish judicial reporting requirements on this training, and would require expert testimony during child custody proceedings while prohibiting a court from ordering family reunification treatments.
The bill, which Rubio has been working to pass in past legislative sessions, will next be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Last year, Rubio agreed that she would push for it again this year in what was a consensus that it could be stronger.
Last year, in a statement, she said: “In talking with Ana Estevez and other stakeholders, we had a consensus that the version under consideration did not achieve our goals. I also know that when California enacts legislation, the rest of the country follows, so it’s imperative we get Piqui’s Law right.”