CSAC Bulletin Article

Appeal Court Decision on $0 Bail

May 7, 2020

A decision issued by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Ayala, et al. v. The Superior Court of San Diego County addresses the application of the Judicial Council’s emergency rule for a $0 bail schedule.

In this case, petitioners challenged the San Diego Superior Court’s implementation order as inconsistent with the Judicial Council’s emergency rule. Petitioners contended that bail for offenses and violations covered by the rule must be set at $0, and the superior court has no authority to increase bail or impose conditions in an individual case.

San Diego Superior Court’s implementation was consistent with Judge J. Richards Couzens’ memorandum that CSAC previously shared. The memorandum highlighted the practical implementation of the rule, including:

The emergency bail schedule is a setting of presumptive $0 bail, not a requirement for “no bail” releases. Therefore, nothing in the rule precludes the court from imposing reasonable conditions of release.

Nothing in the rule inhibits the ability of the court to exercise discretion when setting bail. The court maintains the ability to depart from the $0 bail schedule based on individual case factors, criminal history, or good cause to protect public safety or assure future court appearances.

In deciding this case, the Fourth District Court of Appeal stated:

“We conclude the implementation order is not inconsistent with Emergency Rule 4. The history and language of the rule show that the Judicial Council intended to adopt a statewide bail schedule, which like countywide bail schedules sets the presumptive bail amount for the covered offenses and violations. The Judicial Council did not intend to suspend the array of statutes governing bail, as well as the superior court’s inherent authority, which allow the court to depart from the scheduled bail amount or impose bail conditions in individual cases under appropriate circumstances. We further conclude petitioners have not shown the implementation order or its procedures violate any 4 guarantees of the federal or state constitutions, at least on the current record. We therefore deny the petitions.”

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