12 Cities Sue Los Angeles Court System to Stop Zero Bail Policy

12 Cities Sue Los Angeles Court System to Stop Zero Bail Policy

A man is arrested by an LAPD officer in Venice Beach, Calif., on June 2, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

10/3/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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Twelve Los Angeles County cities filed a lawsuit Sept. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to stop the court system’s new zero-bail policy.
The Superior Court’s decision, announced in July, to reinstate a COVID-era bail schedule removed cash bail for several non-violent crimes. The policy went into effect Oct. 1.
A coalition of cities is asking the court to halt implementation of the bail schedule.
Cities involved in the lawsuit—Whittier, Arcadia, Artesia, Covina, Downey, Glendora, Industry, Lakewood, La Verne, Palmdale, Santa Fe Springs, and Vernon—said they are prioritizing safety and security of their residents, businesses, and law enforcement, according to a press release issued Sept. 29 by the City of Glendora.
“Due to the severity of the impact this will have on local communities, we anticipate more cities will join us in our efforts,” Glendora officials said in the press release.
Glendale Mayor Gary Boyer said the zero-bail schedule went against the city’s duty to protect its community.
“It is our duty to this community to ensure the safety of those who live here, work here, and visit,” he said. “The zero-bail schedule fails to support local leaders in their pledge to protect their residents, and that is unacceptable.”
Los Angeles Superior Court implemented its zero-bail schedule despite several concerns voiced by the county’s district attorney’s office, sheriff, police, and other officials.
Under the new policy, law enforcement can choose to cite and release, book and release, or ask for a magistrate’s review of an arrest, meaning the case would be reviewed by a judge before bail is applied.
A smashed car window in Los Angeles on May 16, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A smashed car window in Los Angeles on May 16, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Most non-violent misdemeanors and felonies would qualify for zero bail, meaning officers would release a defendant at the location where they were arrested after issuing them a ticket.
Under the new schedule, almost all defendants facing nonviolent felony charges or misdemeanors will be cited and released or freed on certain conditions within 24 hours of arrest, according to Los Angeles County’s Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner.
“A person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the determining factor in deciding whether that person, who is presumed innocent, stays in jail before trial or is released,” Ms. Jessner said in a July statement while unveiling the new policy. “A low-risk arrestee should not be held in jail simply because they cannot post the necessary funds to be released pending arraignment.”
About 20 percent of defendants released on zero bail are rearrested, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, who spoke about his concerns to county supervisors Sept. 26.
Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna attends an active shooter exercise on the campus of Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., on Feb. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna attends an active shooter exercise on the campus of Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., on Feb. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Under the new schedule, most of those police arrests will be released at the location of the arrest with a notice to appear in court or be brought to jail to be “booked and released” with a notice to appear in court, according to Glendale officials.
A court appearance will be weeks or months away from the date of the arrest.
Zero bail would apply to almost all misdemeanor crimes and a growing list of non-violent felonies. The list includes car thefts, car burglaries, thefts of property at any value, retail and commercial thefts and burglaries, possession of stolen property, forgery, drug sales, and many others, Glendale city officials said in the release.
Some felonies now added to the schedule are considered serious and violent offenses under the state’s penal code, including residential burglary and hot-prowl burglaries that happen when a resident is home, selling drugs, and retail theft, Los Angeles County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sharon Woo told county supervisors also Sept. 26.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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