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California Judicial Council votes to end $0 bail schedule effective June 20

This afternoon the California Judicial Council voted 17-2 to end the $0 bail schedule for misdemeanors and low level felonies.

The measure was put in place on March 20 of this year as part of the Covid-19 changes put in place to reduce the number of people in county jails and reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the jails among inmates and jail employees.

“The Judicial Council’s action better reflects the current needs of our state, which has different health concerns and restrictions county-to-county based on the threat posed by COVID-19,” said Justice Marsha Slough, a Judicial Council member and chair of the Executive and Planning Committee. “We urge local courts to continue to use the emergency COVID-19 bail schedule where necessary to protect the health of the community, the courts, and the incarcerated. We are also asking courts to report back by June 20 on whether they plan to keep the COVID-19 emergency bail schedule, or another reduced bail schedule.”

There were several reports of suspects being arrested multiple times, some on the same day during the three months under the emergency order.

The Council was also scheduled to make a decision on the emergency eviction and foreclosure rules, but Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye postponed a vote to allow the Governor and Legislature to come up with a plan.

“As I mentioned in April when we first adopted temporary emergency rules and took other actions, we are at a point with the pandemic with no guidance in history, law, or precedent. When the Governor issued his executive order providing me, as chairperson of the Judicial Council, and the council with the authority to protect the public during the pandemic, I promised the Governor that we would assume this responsibility with the utmost care. The rules we promulgated are temporary measures designed to protect the health and safety of the public while ensuring that access to justice remains available. The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic. At the beginning of the statewide shelter-in-place orders, the Legislature was not in session and the Judicial Branch was a constitutional partner with the Executive Branch in adopting temporary, emergency rules designed to protect the public and our justice system. We will work with the Governor and legislative leaders on an updated time frame for amending, sunsetting, or repealing the Judicial Council’s rules, orders, or other actions taken under the authority assigned to us under the Governor’s Executive Order.”

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