It was an interesting day in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The panel that normally deals with issues like civil law and tort liability was instead the venue for a whole lot of Hollywood baby mama drama.
Three celebrities who testified on two unrelated bills all told emotional stories of their small children.
Actresses Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry described a stalking episode and a custody battle as they spoke in support of a bill that would restrict the ability for paparazzi to photograph kids.
Jason Patric, who starred in the 1980s film "Lost Boys," talked about his troubled relationship with former girlfriend Danielle Schreiber as he testified for a bill that would allow sperm donors, in some situations, to gain rights as parents. Schreiber, with whom he is locked in a custody battle, did not testify but sat in a stairwell outside the hearing room.
In the end, the star power may have helped Sen. Kevin de Leon's anti-paparazzi bill pass unanimously out of committee. But it didn't persuade enough lawmakers to support Sen. Jerry Hill's bill to define parenting rights. That bill, SB 115, is done for now, but could get further debate next year.
"I have become a voice of an issue that I never wanted to be a voice for," Patric said to the committee.
"But I'm also here mainly because I have to be Gus's voice. My son. A voice I have not heard in 25 weeks. A voice that is not allowed to mention my name in his mother's home. a voice that has sent me here to speak to you all."
Schreiber's lobbyist, Jennifer Capitolo, told the committee that her client would not testify because she had won her custody battle in court and didn't want to hash it out before the Legislature.
"Danielle just this morning was walking here to the Capitol and as she was walking down J Street, Jason ran at her full speed... yelling at her, saying things I'm not going to repeat right now, " Capitolo said. "She had to retreat into the Hyatt hotel and call security."
An expression of disbelief crossed Patric's face and he said to the lawyer sitting with him, "Are we supposed to just sit here and listen to this?"
Earlier that morning Garner, talking about the anti-paparazzi bill, choked back tears as she told of a stalker who threatened to "cut the babies out of my belly."
He "was arrested, waiting behind our daughter's preschool, standing among the throng of paparazzi," Garner said. "That man is still in prison but I have no doubt there are others like him still out there, and I don't want to make it any easier for them to find and reach my children."
Halle Berry, visibly pregnant, told assembly members she was "here as a mother who loves her daughter and my baby on the way." She complained that photographers are too aggressive in their pursuit of pictures of her daughter.
"They are allowed to be so close to her that they can shout obscenities to me and ask her questions that are inappropriate for a 5-year-old to have to answer," Berry said.
"I went through a custody battle with her father recently, trying to move to France to remove my family from this, and the paparazzi would say things like, 'Oh how do you feel Nahla? You might not see your father again. How do you feel about that?' Inappropriate things to say to a child."
It was Berry's second trip to Sacramento this summer to lobby for the bill.
De Leon's SB 606 would expand the definition of harassing children and make aggression by photographers illegal when directed at children. De Leon said Hollywood may be full of "whiny celebrities" but that the law shouldn't allow photographers to harass their children.
In carrying the bill, De Leon puts himself in a curious position -- supporting celebrities but crossing the news media. The California Newspaper Publishers Association and the California Broadcasters Association spoke against SB 606, saying it would infringe on the ability to engage in legitimate newsgathering.
PHOTO: Actor Jason Patric listens to testimony on Senate Bill 115, which would allow some sperm donors to seek parenting rights, in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on August 13, 2013. Sacramento Bee/Laurel Rosenhall