The story behind the legislation reads like a movie pitch. The wife of a Southern California police detective, distraught because she had lost custody of her children, tries to hire a hit man from the Vagos motorcycle gang to kill him. Instead, gang members alert police, who disguise themselves as biker thugs and secretly tape a conversation with her, leading to the wife's arrest and conviction for solicitation of murder.
But later on, in divorce court, she is awarded half the couple's property, even though she tried to have her husband whacked. He is determined to change the divorce law.
A bill scheduled to be heard today in a state legislative committee seeks to close what its author says is a loophole in the state's no-fault divorce code. The legislation will specify that spouses who solicit the murder of their husband or wife are not entitled to collect financial rewards in divorce proceedings.
The bill was prompted by John Pomroy, a police detective in Pomona, 30 miles east of Los Angeles. His wife collected $70,000 from their estate after she was released from prison in 2004.
"If you commit arson on your house, you don't get the insurance money. You go to prison and all sorts of things happen to you," Mr Pomroy said. "But if you try to kill someone that is your spouse, the current law allows you to collect something."
State law says that if spouses are convicted of murdering or attempting to murder their husband or wife, they are not entitled to any financial benefits during divorce proceedings. But if they hire someone else to do the dirty deed for them, their victims' assets are not protected.