• TRAFFIC FINE POLICY BANNED IN CALIFORNIA COURT SYSTEM: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Motorists in some California counties will no longer have to pay traffic tickets before they can contest them in court under a new rule adopted Monday by the state court system’s governing body.
The Judicial Council voted unanimously to abolish the practice of demanding bail as a prerequisite to challenging a traffic citation. The vote came as state officials have raised concerns that traffic fines and penalties are ensnaring minority and low-income residents. Fines have skyrocketed in California over the past two decades, and courts have grown reliant on fees as a result of budget cuts during the recession.
The Judicial Council’s decision takes effect immediately, and also requires courts to notify traffic defendants that they don’t have to make the payments to appear in court in any instructions or other materials they provide to the public.
Many county courts do not require payment before motorists can appear in traffic court.
But the American Civil Liberties Union sent letters in April to eight Northern and Central California counties where it found the practice was stated on the counties’ websites. Those counties included Fresno and Shasta, but not San Francisco or Sacramento.
“Folks who are completely innocent may not even be able get in front of a judge to explain their innocence because they can’t pay the $500 or $600 up front,” said Christine Sun, legal director of the ACLU of Northern California.
• JUSTICES REJECT NRA APPEAL OVER SAN FRANCISCO GUN LAWS: WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has turned down another National Rifle Association-led appeal aimed at loosening gun restrictions and instead left in place two San Francisco gun laws.
The court on Monday let stand court rulings in favor of a city measure that requires handgun owners to secure weapons in their homes by storing them in a locker, keeping them on their bodies or applying trigger locks. A second ordinance bans the sale of ammunition that expands on impact, has “no sporting purpose” and is commonly referred to as hollow-point bullets.
Gun rights supporters have been frustrated by the court’s unwillingness to expand on a seminal gun rights ruling from 2008.
• COURT UPHOLDS LOCKUP FOR BOY WHO KILLED NEO-NAZI DAD: RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California boy who shot and killed his neo-Nazi father in 2011 lost a bid to have his case tossed when a state appellate court on Monday rejected his arguments that a judge wrongly considered statements he made to authorities in violation of his Miranda rights and allowed him to be evaluated by a doctor without his attorney being present.
A division of the 4th District Court of Appeal also said there was substantial evidence to support the court’s finding that the boy understood what he had done was wrong, and the court had considered all of the relevant evidence before sending him to juvenile lockup as opposed to a less restrictive residential treatment center.
Authorities say the boy shot and killed his father, 32-year-old Jeffrey Hall, at point-blank range as he slept on a sofa in their home on May 1, 2011, after a night of drinking. The boy told officers his father had repeatedly abused him, according to the appeals court.
He also had a history of violence that pre-dated his father’s involvement with white supremacist causes, prosecutors said. At age 5, he stabbed a teacher with a pencil during his first day in kindergarten. He also tried to strangle a teacher with a phone cord, according to prosecutors.
• FOUNDER OF CALIFORNIA’S VENERABLE FIELD POLL DIES AT 94: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mervin Field, who founded the authoritative Field Poll, a mainstay of California and national politics for decades, died Monday of natural causes. He was 94.
The Field Poll has published more than 2,500 reports on public opinion since Field launched the company in San Francisco in 1947. It gained a national reputation as an independent, non-partisan public opinion news service.
California Journal selected Field as one of 30 men and women who had the greatest influence on California government and politics in the 20th century. The journal said Field “has been the man who explained Californians to one another and the nation.”