NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.

Coronavirus: Santa Clara County court increases available hearings

May 12, 2020 | The Mercury News
Effective May 11, the Hall of Justice in North San Jose added limited court calendars for criminal pleas and motions, and scheduling for preliminary and special hearings. Drug treatment court proceedings and mental-health diversion hearings will be held once a week under the new rules.

Opinion: Decarceration will help fight COVID-19 in San Bernardino County

May 12, 2020 | San Bernardino Sun
As a former Assistant City Prosecutor in Pasadena and as a current resident of San Bernardino County, I strongly support the Judicial Council’s emergency order. First, people who are arrested but have money have always been released. This order affects only those locked up until their case is heard because they cannot afford bail — in most cases a few hundred dollars. I do not believe that indigent people should be incarcerated simply because they do not have cash on hand.

Police seize more than a pound of meth in San Mateo car stop

May 12, 2020 | The Mercury News
Hasson was not booked into San Mateo County jail because of a new rule that eliminates bail for people arrested and charged with low-level offenses. The California Judicial Council approved the standard in April as part of a continuing effort to limit the influx of inmates and chances of a COVID-19 outbreak at county jails.

Law deans shocked, concerned about low February bar exam scores

May 12, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) While the mean score in California on the multi-state exam, the multiple choice portion of the exam, was down from 1,370 to 1,357, the overall mean score nationally was 1326. The multiple-choice portion constitutes 50% of the 1,440 score needed to pass the bar in California.

Commission on Judicial Performance elects new leadership

May 12, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Trinity County Superior Court Judge Michael Harper was named chair of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the body announced Monday, while Michael Moodian, a Chapman University education professor, was named vice-chairman.

Nevada County jury trials remain in doubt as pandemic continues

May 11, 2020 | The Union
But Cantil-Sakauye appeared to hold out an option for local courts to move ahead with trials under certain circumstances, with the order urging courts to “work with justice partners to hold trials earlier if possible, including through the use of remote technology when appropriate.” But they must be able to do so while complying with health and safety laws, the order states.

Assembly Committee Endorses Small Cut in Annual Attorney License Fee

May 11, 2020 | The Recorder
The legislation, sponsored this year by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, would bill active attorneys $510 when all fees are added. Inactive attorneys would pay $177.40, down $5.60 from this year. The amounts are less than bar leaders had sought, but bill authors declined to continue some one-time charges included in last year’s licensing fees.

Opinion: Electronic argument in the California Supreme Court

May 11, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Will all of this matter very much? One hopes not, expecting the outcome to turn on the strength of your case and the governing law. However, lawyers dress conservatively for court and pay attention to the appearance of their briefs because we know, as humans, these subliminal markers of professionalism and credibility help persuade. So, too, a polished video presentation.

Sheriff Withrow: Innocent paying the price for no bail order

May 11, 2020 | Stockton Record
Some California sheriffs are calling the new statewide order requiring $0 bail for certain nonviolent crimes a “get out of jail free card.” But Local judges hearing an individual’s case still have judicial discretion when it comes to setting bail.

Opinion: Standing for taxpayers and direct democracy

May 10, 2020 | The Press-Enterprise
The case heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday involved a controversial water rate increase in the city of Dunsmuir. Opponents gathered enough signatures on a referendum petition to place the rate increase on the ballot, but the city refused to call an election.

Ventura County law enforcement ask state for changes to temporary $0 bail rule amid pandemic

May 10, 2020 | Ventura County Star
"While release on $0 bail was well intentioned, experience has shown unacceptable recidivism among those released under the (emergency bail schedule.) We believe a few revisions to the (schedule) will significantly enhance public safety while serving the laudable goal of protecting pre-trial defendants and jail personnel from COVID-19," the letter states.

Pandemic docket update

May 09, 2020 | At the Lectern
The COVID-19 pandemic has added several matters to the Supreme Court’s docket. And that’s not counting the many other issues that have occupied the attention of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Ming Chin as, respectively, chair and a member of the Judicial Council.
How the coronavirus could kill the $2 billion US bail bond business

How the coronavirus could kill the $2 billion US bail bond business

May 09, 2020 | CNBC
Prisons and jails are at a significant risk of a coronavirus outbreak, with inmates living, eating and bathing in shared spaces. The situation has added intensity to a decades-long debate on one of the biggest causes of jail density — a system that accounts for a $2 billion industry in the U.S. That system is money bail.

District attorney to talk about zero bail at council meeting

May 09, 2020 | Champion Newspapers
The emergency policy was declared in April by the Judicial Council of California to reduce bail to zero for misdemeanor and certain felony arrests to reduce jail crowding and to slow the spread of coronavirus.

West Sac man charged with attempted carjacking after 0 bail release

May 09, 2020 | Daily Democrat
Moscaliuc is currently being held at the Yolo County jail. Moscalius was arraigned on the new charge and the PCRS violation on Thursday. The court set bail at $20,000 and set the matter for Preliminary Hearing on May 28 in Department 14 of the Yolo County Superior Court.

Emergency extension rules and PFR filing dates, continued

May 08, 2020 | At the Lectern
The COVID-19 emergency extension orders — issued by the Courts of Appeal with the Chief Justice’s authorization — have complicated the calculation of dates for filing petitions for review in the Supreme Court.

Coronavirus: Monterey County aligns with state on limited re-openings

May 08, 2020 | Monterey Herald
According to a release, the local Superior Court has already mailed out juror summons for the week of June 1, and the court is implementing several safety measures for everyone involved with the trials, including jurors, court staff, defendants, attorneys and judicial officers.
Two Courts Enter Pandemic and One Keeps Going

Two Courts Enter Pandemic and One Keeps Going

May 08, 2020 | Courthouse News Service
Open for business or closed like it’s Sunday: the divergent ways in which San Francisco and San Diego courts have dealt with the pandemic can perhaps best be encapsulated in the clashing positions taken by their leaders.

Editorial: California's Supreme Court can set an example in this pension case

May 08, 2020 | The Washington Post
“The question presented by this case is whether on top of legitimate pension liability, should taxpayers along with their children and even grandchildren, be forced to also shoulder the burden of financing abusive practices to artificially and unlawfully inflate pensions.” It’s the right question, and California’s justices can set a national example by delivering the right answer: a resounding “no.”

California’s Jail Population Has Plummeted during COVID-19

May 08, 2020 | PPIC
The “zero-bail” rule targets pretrial detainees, who historically have been about two-thirds of California’s jail population; many of these detainees are incarcerated mainly because they cannot pay bail. From April 11 to April 25, county jail releases continued to outpace admissions, with 14,154 people admitted and 19,924 released statewide.

Crime levels are down during pandemic: Will freeing prisoners change that?

May 08, 2020 | San Francisco Chronicle
When California judges began releasing large numbers of criminal defendants without bail because of the coronavirus, law enforcement groups predicted an increase in crime. . But an inmate advocacy group said Friday that the statewide crime rate had plummeted in the first month of the pandemic, and there was no reason to believe the rate has risen since then.

Courts likely to be hit hard as California finances crater

May 08, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) "All of state government is now in a vastly different world from the one we began the budget year with in January," Hoshino said in an emailed statement. "As more court services are restored, we expect to see a surge in filings and case work that has been suspended in the wake of the governor's emergency orders. We are facing a multi-year challenge but we can't lose sight of our primary duty of providing access to justice for all Californians."

Lack of COVID-19 testing in California jails sets up ‘perfect storm’ for outbreak, experts warn

May 08, 2020 | Sacramento Bee
Roughly 1,600 tests for the new coronavirus have been administered in jails located in the 15 California counties experiencing the highest number of infections, according to county-reported data and responses from sheriffs offices and local health departments contacted this week by The Bee. More than one-third of those tests — 667 — have come back positive.
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