District Attorneys Challenging Inmates Released Under No Bail Order
On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a “stay-at-home” order for the state of California for the purpose of preventing the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. California’s judicial branch quickly followed suit.
On April 6, 2020, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye issued a statewide order suspending all jury trials in California’s superior courts for 60 days and allowed courts to immediately adopt new rules to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s order also eliminated bail for many of California’s low-level offenders of misdemeanors and certain felonies–even if they have prior felony convictions. The Chief Justice’s order also allows the court to set or deny bail for serious and/or violent felonies defined in Penal Code sections 1192.7(c) and 667.5(c). Nevertheless, prosecutors can object that the release of the defendant would pose an unreasonable risk to the community.
For these reasons, various district attorneys across the Golden State are re-examining their cases for the instances where they would object to certain defendants being released without posting bail. According to Tyler Pialet of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office is concerned with defendants paying no bail for certain crimes like elder abuse, felony assault, and hit and run causing death. The article further details San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow’s letter to the Judicial Council indicating his office’s potential objection to pretrial release for human trafficking, elder abuse, child abuse, and child endangerment. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin reportedly will use a “risk base” system to determine the potential danger and flight risk of the defendant.
The various prosecutors’ offices recognize the importance and critical need of reducing jail populations during the pandemic. Particularly since, at the time of the article’s publication, 33 state prison inmates and 62 correctional employees tested positive for the virus. The potential spread of the virus within jails not only affects the lives of the inmates but also the various sheriff’s departments as they are in charge of the transportations and supervision of defendants in county jails.
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 DAs may challenge some inmates’ release By Tyler Pialet – Los Angeles Daily Journal (April 10, 2020)