Los Angeles Superior Court Issues Preliminary Injunction in Money Bail Lawsuit

Los Angeles Superior Court Issues Preliminary Injunction in Money Bail Lawsuit

For Immediate Release: May 16, 2023 

Press Contacts:
Cheryl Bonnachi, Civil Rights Corps | 818-339-6928 | cheryl@civilrightscorps.org

Sara Rosenblit, Munger, Tolles and Olson, LLP | press@mto.com

Lucy Sears, Public Justice | (240) 676-4499 | lsears@publicjustice.net


Los Angeles Superior Court Issues Preliminary Injunction in Money Bail Lawsuit

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff grants motion for preliminary injunction, halting enforcement of LA County’s cash bail schedule, expanding pretrial release in LA County

 Los Angeles, CA — Today, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic preliminary injunction (PI) ensuring that people will no longer be detained because they are unable to pay cash bail. The injunction requires the LA Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department to follow a policy enacted during the pandemic in Los Angeles, home to the largest jail system in the country, that does not require people arrested in low-level, non-violent offenses to pay money bail before they are released.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff ruled that the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit had demonstrated they are likely to succeed in showing that it is unconstitutional for LA County and City of LA to jail people between arrest and their first court date simply because they cannot afford to pay money bail. This ruling follows a months-long hearing, which included weeks of testimony from experts on the harms of wealth-based detention, which demonstrated that money bail undermines public safety. The court concluded: “[T]he uncontroverted evidence shows the PI will reduce the incidence of new criminal activity and failures to appear for future court proceedings . . . and decrease overcrowding at these Defendants’ jail facilities.”

The court also noted that the defendants “do not dispute” the plaintiffs’ arguments, and that “many public officials in California” including LA’s own Probation Department and Board of Supervisors have expressed “profound doubts about the wisdom, fairness, and constitutionality of the pretrial money bail system that operates to detain arrestees in jail solely because they are too impoverished to pay money bail.”

Pursuant to today’s preliminary injunction, effective May 24, 2023, LAPD and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department will no longer be able to jail individuals who would have been released under LA’s most recent “emergency bail schedule,” which was implemented to reduce jail overcrowding during the pandemic. The parties will then have until July 5, 2023 to work together to design “constitutionally sound, effective, concrete, administrable, and enforceable plans and procedures” for pre-arraignment release of arrested individuals. The court expects the lawsuit to proceed to a trial on the merits in 2024.

The class action lawsuit, Urquidi v. Los Angeles et. al, was filed in November 2022 on behalf of jailed individuals Phillip Urquidi, Terilyn Goldson, Daniel Martinez, Arthur Lopez, Susana Perez, and Gerardo Campos. They are joined as plaintiffs by an interfaith coalition of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice); its Executive Director Reverend Jennifer Gutierrez; Reverend Gary Bernard Williams, Pastor Saint Mark UMC and Board Member of CLUE; and Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Professor of Rabbinic Literature, American Jewish University.

“Our clients were arrested and kept in jail for five days because they simply couldn’t pay money to buy their release,” said Public Justice’s Debtors’ Prison Project Senior Attorney Brian Hardingham. “Pre-trial detention destroys lives, and we hope this ruling will pave the way for lasting policy changes that will strengthen and protect communities of color and low-income people disproportionately harmed by the for-profit bail industry.”

“The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has committed to closing Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) and reducing LA County’s dangerously high jail population but has failed to act. This ruling is an important step to reduce pretrial jailing, but now the Board must deliver on its promise to invest in the necessary community resources and care,” said Ambrose Brooks S., JusticeLA Coalition Coordinator.

“While this case is still ongoing, we are pleased with Judge Riff’s ruling, which has an immediate impact on most individuals arrested in Los Angeles County,” said Munger, Tolles & Olson Chair Brad Brian, who along with Salil Dudani of Civil Rights Corps argued the motion for the preliminary injunction. “We are confident that LA County bail policies are unconstitutional, and look forward to proving that at trial.”

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Civil Rights Corps, Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Public Justice, and Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, LLP.

Learn more about the case here.


Civil Rights Corps is a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the American legal system through innovative civil rights litigation. CRC works with individuals accused and convicted of crimes, their families and communities, people currently or formerly incarcerated, activists, organizers, judges, and government officials to challenge mass human caging and to create a legal system that promotes equality and human freedom.

Public Justice is a national legal advocacy organization focused on impact litigation, education, and policy advocacy. Public Justice’s Debtors’ Prison Project uses strategic litigation to combat the criminalization of poverty, fight the imposition of abusive fines and fees, and compel governments and their for-profit partners to stop conditioning freedom on ability to pay and abandon predatory collection tactics. 

Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP is one of the largest and most successful civil rights firms in the country. HSRD pursues justice through individual and class action lawsuits, legal services, education, and community-based efforts. 

Munger, Tolles and Olsen LLP is a law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. MTO maintains a national and international practice, with principal areas of focus including litigation, corporate, labor and employment, environmental, financial restructuring and tax. Learn more: www.mto.com

JusticeLA is a partnership of grassroots organizations, advocates, directly impacted communities, and stakeholders to reduce the footprint of incarceration by stopping jail expansion and reclaiming, reimagining and reinvesting dollars away from incarceration and into community-based systems of care.


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