Despite the recent passage of a law banning the money bail system in California, a federal judge will still have to decide whether bail is constitutional in a legal challenge of the practice.
A trial in a class action brought by low-income arrestees mounting a constitutional challenge to bail was set to start on Sept. 17, but at a Friday pretrial hearing U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers asked attorneys for both sides to submit renewed motions for summary judgment.
“My own view is that if the case isn’t moot, it’s pretty darn close to moot,” Gonzalez Rogers said.
By its conclusion, however, the lawyers had convinced her to take another look since the current bail schedules will be in effect for at least another year. The California Bail Reform Act doesn’t take effect until Oct. 1, 2019, and a referendum is already under way to repeal it.
Representing the California Bail Agents Association, attorney Harmeet Dhillon said she doesn’t believe the case is moot at all.
“There has been a class certified and that class has asserted deprivation of liberty. It is up to two years or more in San Francisco where these rights will be affected,” Dhillon said. She also noted that if the referendum gathers enough signatures to be put to a vote in November 2020, the new law’s effective date could be pushed back even further.
“If the referendum qualifies, SB 10 will not become law until December 2020 if it fails, or never, if it succeeds,” she said.
She added if Gonzalez Rogers rules the case moot, someone else could bring a new case in the interim, effectively wasting court resources on another lawsuit.