L.A. authorities agree to release more than 250 inmates from jails

The presiding judge of Los Angeles County announced Friday that more than 250 inmates facing misdemeanor and lower-level felony charges have been ordered to be released from jail to limit the spread of coronavirus by reducing the number of people behind bars.

In a written statement, Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said orders have been signed to release more than 250 people on their own recognizance in connection with the Judicial Council of California's recent decision to set bail at zero for most misdemeanor and lower-level felony cases.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia, Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer vetted and agreed on lists of cases on which bail would be set at zero, with those inmates being ordered to return to court on specific dates, according to the court, which noted that the stipulated requests will continue to be signed on an ongoing basis.

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"Justice partners in Los Angeles County are continuing to work with the court during this unprecedented public health crisis to protect public safety while achieving distance inside our courthouses and the jail system,'' Brazile said.

The presiding judge had announced on March 17 that most court functions would remain on hold until April 16 to "allow us to comply with social distancing and to prevent the spread of the virus within our
community.'' That was subsequently extended through May 12, with courtrooms being closed for judicial business except for those handling time-sensitive, essential functions.

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Essential matters include arraignments, preliminary hearings, bail review hearings, grand jury indictments and sentencing hearings in criminal cases, along with juvenile petitions, emergency protective orders, emergency writs challenging COVID-19 emergency measures and civil and family temporary restraining orders.

The presiding judge also said last month that the court system was instituting a 90-day grace period on all traffic and non-traffic infraction tickets.

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