SAN FRANCISCO—Martin Hoshino, Administrative Director of the Judicial Council of California, was named to a newly created, national task force charged with addressing the ongoing impact that court fines, fees, and bail practices have on communities—especially the economically disadvantaged—across the United States.
“It’s important as court leaders we help ensure our justice system is fair and equitable no matter what your income level,” said California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who serves as chair of the Judicial Council. “I’m pleased that California will have a strong voice on this national task force, and I’m confident that Martin will be able to convey our state’s experience and expertise on how best to increase access to justice for those in our state and nationwide.”
Hoshino will co-chair the task force’s Transparency, Governance & Structural Reform working group, along with Nathan Hecht, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
Task Force Membership and Charge
The National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices will comprise national judicial and legal leaders; legal advocates; policy makers from state, county, and municipal government; academics; and the public interest community. This effort will be led by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA).
Among other responsibilities, the task force will:
- Draft model statutes, court rules, written policies, processes, and procedures for setting, collecting, and waiving court-imposed payments;
- Compile and create suggested best practices for setting, processing, and codifying the collection of fines and fees and bail/bonds; and
- Develop an online clearinghouse of information containing resources and best practices.
California Courts’ Efforts to Address the Issue
At a special meeting held June 8 of last year, the Judicial Council unanimously adopted a new rule that directs the state’s trial courts to allow people who have traffic tickets to appear for arraignment and trial without deposit of bail, unless certain specified exceptions apply.
In addition, the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System, appointed by the Chief Justice, is taking a broader look at effective public access to California’s courts, including traffic proceedings and how mandatory and discretionary fines, fees, and penalties impact court users.