OC judge won’t toss LA bail ruling; lawsuit continues 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies take a suspect into custody. An Orange County judge held of on granting a request from cities to immediately eliminate the no-cash bail system. File photo
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies take a suspect into custody. An Orange County judge held of on granting a request from cities to immediately eliminate the no-cash bail system. File photo
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An Orange County judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction Monday that would have granted the wishes of 29 cities seeking to stop L.A. Superior Court’s Oct. 1 implementation of essentially a no-cash bail schedule. 

While Judge William Claster on Monday did not stop the re-implementation of the emergency-bail system L.A. County used during COVID-19 — which largely releases defendants from pretrial detention if their bail amount would have been $50,000 or less — he did allow the plaintiffs more time to file an amended complaint, which the cities expressed gratitude for in a statement Tuesday. 

Public Justice, one of several organizations seeking to stop the lawsuit in support of the no-cash bail system, issued a statement last week ahead of the ruling that called the injunction “unlawful release.” 

The Santa Clarita City Council on Oct. 11 voted unanimously to join the lawsuit, originally filed by the city of Whittier. 

The cities now have until the end of January to submit additional information about data to back up claims from the cities that the end of the cash-bail system represents a public-safety threat. 

“We appreciate the court’s decision to allow us to present additional evidence of the harmful impacts of no-cash bail,” according to a statement issued Monday by Rosie Richardson, a spokeswoman for the coalition of cities in the lawsuit. “This sweeping program was implemented too quickly without adequate research, or enough input from the communities it affects. We believe we can do better.” 

The Vera Insitute, which also works for criminal justice reform, called the cities’ efforts “fear-mongering.” 

 “This lawsuit is the result of fearmongering and misinformation in the first place, and denying the suit is the right result. The facts, research, and data are all very consistent in Los Angeles and across the country: This kind of bail policy goes hand in hand with public safety and equity,” according to a statement shared by Claire Simonich, associate director of Vera California. “Instead of continuing to spend time on this lawsuit to garner media attention, we invite these city leaders to help us build the safe, fair, and effective pretrial system the people of Los Angeles County deserve—cutting through the fearmongering to connect our neighbors to housing, treatment and services, provide court reminders, and more.” 

The initial ruling by L.A. County Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner that instituted no-cash bail and spurred the cities’ lawsuit was a result of a separate lawsuit by a handful of defendants who claimed they were jailed for multiple days solely because they didn’t have the resources to pay cash bail. 

Whittier initially filed suit, and then it was joined by dozens of other cities, which successfully sought to have the case heard in Orange County by arguing that an L.A. County judge would have an inherent bias to support Jessner’s ruling.   

Both sides are now expected to meet March 8 in Orange County for a case management hearing. 

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