By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief
SACRAMENTO (2:11 p.m., Wednesday/March 18, 2020) – Information obtained exclusively by the VANGUARD at this hour indicates that – because of the coronavirus threat – the Sacramento County Jail is now releasing scores of inmates – and that all Sacramento County law enforcement officers are authorized to cite and release defendants on most misdemeanor warrants.
The orders are causing some “havoc” for defense counsel, who are attempting to contact their clients with this information, according to sources.
“BY ORDER OF THE COURT AND EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, the Sacramento County Sheriff s Department is authorized to grant accelerated release of inmates. Releases can be no more than 30 (thirty) actual days early of an inmate’s sentence. This order includes misdemeanors and felonies….(this) shall remain in effect until May 31, 2020,” reads one of the orders signed by Sacramento County Superior Court Presiding Judge Russell L. Hom.
Another order grants the Sheriff’s Department permission to immediately “grant the release of 46 misdemeanor inmates with a ‘No OR and/or PC 853.6 condition’ as specified…not to appear before June 1, 2020.”
Yet a third order, good until May 31, 2020, immediately authorizes “all law enforcement officers…to cite and release defendants on misdemeanor warrants pursuant to Penal Code Section 853.6. This order includes misdemeanor warrants indicating NO O/R and/or NO 853.6 release comments. This order does not include arrests for misdemeanor warrants pursuant to PC§ 853.6(a)(2 PC §853.6(a)(3) or PC § 853.6(i).”
A statement released by the Sacramento Superior Court states:
“The Coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a world pandemic and the federal government has declared a national state of emergency…Due to the increasing risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity for additional and significant measures to protect the health and safety of our community, including court personnel, court operations shall be reduced to critical proceedings only as set forth in the General Order of the Presiding Judge, dated March 17, 2020.
“The court shall continue to handle critical proceedings occurring in criminal, general civil, family, probate, juvenile delinquency and dependency and other identified areas. Judicial officers and minimum court staff required to perform critical functions shall continue to work. All other cases, including any other scheduled hearings and matters are continued to dates to be determined.
“Our decision to cease court operations except those deemed critical has not been made lightly. We have made this decision with due consideration to the increasing measures necessary to protect the health and safety of our community and court personnel, as well as the importance for all courts to ensure access to justice, protect due process, and provide a forum for the orderly resolution of disputes under law.
“We remain committed to serving the people of Sacramento County and through the uninterrupted handling of critical proceedings, the court will continue to serve the most immediate needs of the most vulnerable in our community including the elderly, children, victims of domestic violence, those whose life and liberty are at stake. We look forward to restoring our Court to full operational status as soon as possible.”
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