Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Bars Bail Where Misdemeanor, Nonviolent Felony Is Charged
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Judicial Council, responding to the COVID-19 epidemic, yesterday approved temporary emergency measures which include eliminating bail for defendants who are charged with misdemeanors and most nonviolent felonies, effective statewide next Monday.
The state’s judicial policy-making body also voted, via teleconferencing, to extend the 10-court-day period for holding a preliminary hearing to 30 court days and lengthen the period for bringing a person accused of a felony before a magistrate from 48 hours to not more than a week.
Temporary measures include limits on evictions and home foreclosures, which remain authorized where necessary to protect public health and safety. Gov. Gavin Newsom previously issued an executive order barring ejection of renters who lack funds based on shutdowns of businesses based on the epidemic.
Superior courts were called upon to make maximum use of technology.
“Together we must play our part in ‘flattening the curve’ for our state and nation as this pandemic evolves,” Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said. “But we also must preserve the rule of law, to protect the rights and liberties of all Californians, as all state government strives to protect their health and wellbeing.”
With respect to restricting bail, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said:
“I applaud the chief justice and the Judicial Council for adopting a statewide zero bail for people charged with most misdemeanors and low-level felonies. In Los Angeles County, we implemented a zero-bail measure last week that allows us to further reduce the number of people in county jails and courthouses.
“I appreciate the collaboration among criminal justice leaders in Los Angeles County that has resulted in the rapid deployment of new and innovative approaches as we work to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
The state Legislature in 2018 voted to eliminate bail but implementation was blocked when a referendum on the matter qualified the November ballot.
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