City of Torrance Joins Lawsuit Opposing Zero-Bail in Los Angeles County

City of Torrance Joins Lawsuit Opposing Zero-Bail in Los Angeles County

An L.A. County Sheriff's Department bus enters the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2018. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

10/30/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The Torrance City Council unanimously voted Oct. 24 to join more than two dozen cities across Los Angeles County in a lawsuit against a controversial new zero-bail protocol.
The lawsuit filed Sept. 28 was led by Whittier and joined by 11 other cities in the county just before the new bail schedule went into effect Oct. 1 despite concerns from county law enforcement agencies.
“As a sign of support for the Torrance Police Department, the City Council is taking proactive measures to protect public safety,” the county said in a news release Oct 26.
“The City of Torrance remains committed to public safety and urges communities and stakeholders to join in advocating for sensible and responsible criminal justice.”
Of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County, at least 29 have joined the lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court, according to reports.
The cities are asking the court to halt implementation of the bail schedule that allows defendants to be cited and released for several non-violent crimes.
So far, cities involved in the lawsuit include Arcadia, Artesia, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Beverly Hills, Cerritos, Covina, Downey, Duarte, Glendora, Industry, Irwindale, La Mirada, La Verne, Lakewood, Lancaster, Manhattan Beach, Norwalk, Palmdale, Paramount, Rosemead, San Dimas, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Monica, Torrance, Vernon, West Covina, and Whittier.
Under the county’s new zero-bail policy, offenses such as car thefts and burglaries, theft of property of any value, retail theft, commercial thefts and burglaries, possession of stolen property, forgery, and drug sales qualify for zero-bail release.
Officers can ask an on-call magistrate judge to review certain cases involving defendants who pose a greater risk to the public, including those accused of sexual battery, crimes against children or elders, contact with minors with an intent to commit a sexual offense, and for gun crimes.
The county’s new bail system replaces traditional schedules that required cash bail for each crime with the amount based on its severity.
The zero-cash bail policy, first implemented in the county during the COVID-19 pandemic, has survived other litigation.
In May, a Los Angeles Superior court judge issued an injunction blocking pre-arraignment cash bail in the city and county of Los Angeles. The ruling and lawsuit were overshadowed by the court’s decision to implement its own similar zero-bail schedule in October.
The city and county went back to court Oct. 23 and asked the judge to dissolve the injunction because the court’s new policy replaced it. The judge, however, denied the request, according to Pasadena-based Courthouse News, due in part to the cities’ lawsuit.
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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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