July 31, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Column: How The Rampaging Virus Led To No-bail Policy

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice Columnist

First there were the “geriatric police,” cops who occasionally stopped senior citizens near the beginning of this spring’s coronavirus pandemic and told them to get home and stay home, with no one quite sure what right they had to enforce such a condescending, age-discriminating policy, however well-meant.

Then Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti threatened to institute “neighborhood police,” saying if the folks who elected him don’t behave in ways he pronounces good for them, he’ll force them not to go outside their neighborhoods for an indefinite period.

These were both the result of decrees stemming from emergency powers the Constitution grants public officials for use only in times of extreme emergency.

No one responsibly suggests this spring has not been a time of public health emergency. Hospitals have been crammed with victims of the rogue coronavirus. Convention centers and basketball arenas were converted into temporary hospitals.

Death and disease tolls are totted up daily in ways unseen since the Vietnam War, and in numbers exponentially higher than even those myriad casualties.

That means many measures taken under emergency rules are justified. Then come edicts in other categories. Where, for example, did Gov. Gavin Newsom get the power to authorize state Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and the California Judicial Council to change this state’s bail laws, as he did without so much as a token public hearing or Zoom social media session?

Of all the many measures state and local officials imposed on tens of millions of Californians, none appears to have less legal justification than this one.

Few would seriously protest other measures the court system adopted on its own, even if there were no checks or balances on its choices. Defendants now can appear by remote technologies for pretrial criminal hearings. Time frames are extended for many temporary restraining orders. Electronic depositions are now OK in civil lawsuits. Courts have given up for the nonce their power to make eviction orders, no matter the cause.

These are mostly matters of judicial procedure, and the more sophisticated electronics become, the less some of these measures appear to intrude on basic American rights.

But then there are bail bonds. Among the changes the Judicial Council made without a peep from Newsom was a statewide emergency measure forbidding judges to set bail in any but the most serious felonies, like murder and rape. For misdemeanors and so-called “lower level” felonies, including child abuse, there now will be no bail required.

The justification is a desire to thin out jail populations and create for inmates something like the social distancing enforced on the rest of the populace. The thinking: without such distancing, jails can become like petri dishes where the virus might infect and kill prisoners in droves.

But bail itself is a matter of hot public debate, a policy issue on which Newsom took sides last year when he signed a bill ending bail for virtually all criminal defendants. Immediately, the bail bond industry raised millions of dollars and qualified a referendum for November’s ballot that would rescind that law. Once the measure qualified for the ballot, the law was put in limbo, and bail remained as before, pending the voters’ say-so this fall.

Now, the proposed new policy is getting a trial run without even one public hearing. If crime rises in this time of myriad empty stores and offices, voters will quickly realize that no-bail is bad public policy. If there are no new problems from the “minor” criminals who will be given their freedom pending trial, then it’s possible public sentiment, which previously favored keeping the old bail system, will turn around to register a ‘no’ vote on the referendum.

Whatever the outcome, no one can seriously challenge the court system’s new rules, if only because of this classic Catch-22: the only place for such a challenge would be the very court system that set those rules.

All of which raises legitimate questions about just how much democracy Californians ought to be willing to cede even during emergencies that inevitably arise in a state subject to frequent earthquakes and wildfires.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

20-Year-Old Fresno Man Killed in Venice Shooting, Crash

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

No arrests made in connectio to Tuesday incident By Sam Catanzaro. Officials have released the identity of a 20-year-old man...

Uovo Pasta Opens in Marina Del Rey

July 29, 2021

July 29, 2021

Soft opening for popular restaurant at Pier 44 By Kerry Slater  Popular pasta restaurant Uovo is now open in Marina...

Opinion: Why the Recall of Mike Bonin Matters

July 29, 2021

July 29, 2021

By Nick Antonicello For the first time in a long time Mike Bonin seems to be actually responding to the...

Police Investigating Fatal Crash, Shooting in Venice

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

Details remain murky surrounding Tuesday morning incident  By Sam Catanzaro Police are investigating a fatal car crash and possible related...

Venice Community Housing Receives Honor From American Institute Of Architects: YO! Venice Show – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Venice Community Housing Receives Honor From American Institute Of Architects *...

Homeless Advocate Arrested Near Venice Bridge Home Shelter on Suspicion of Dealing Drugs (UPDATED)

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

65-year-old Garry Featherstone accused of selling meth, PCP By Sam Catanzaro A self-described homeless outreach advocate was recently arrested near...

63-Year-Old Man Killed in Westchester Tent Fire

July 22, 2021

July 22, 2021

LAFD investigating Wednesday night incident  By Sam Catanzaro A 63-year-old man died in a tent following a fire in Westchester...

Opinion: Why Silence the Sheriff? Bonin Bashing of Villanueva Backfires at the Wrong Moment!

July 21, 2021

July 21, 2021

By Nick Antonicello Don’t like the message? Please don’t shoot the messenger! For that seems to be the case when...

Bonin’s Encampment to Home Moves 131 Homeless Into Housing: YO! Venice Show – July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Bonin’s Encampment to Home Moves 131 Homeless Into Housing * LAFD...

Unidentified Skeletal Remains Found in Ballona Wetlands Amid Search for Missing Person

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Authorities make discovery amid search for Kolby Story this past Friday  By Sam Catanzarto Unidentified skeletal remains were found Friday...

Beach Closures Lifted After Sunday Discharge of 17 Million Gallons of Raw Sewage From Hyperion Plant

July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

17 million gallons of raw sewage discharged from Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant Sunday Night By Sam Catanzaro Beach closures have...

Petition for Recall of Councilmember Bonin Approved for Circulation

July 13, 2021

July 13, 2021

Signature gathering phase now set to begin after Tuesday approval by City Clerk  By Sam Catanzaro The Los Angeles City...

Deadline Extended For Unhoused To Move Belongings Off Boardwalk: YO! Venice Show – July 12, 2021

July 12, 2021

July 12, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Deadline Extended For Unhoused To Move Belongings Off Boardwalk * Pedestrian...