Letter to the California Judicial Council Regarding COVID-19

On April 20, 2020, the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law submitted a letter to the California Judicial Council on behalf of 37 law faculty from around the state of California addressing the Judicial Council’s recent orders that extend the statutory time for criminal hearings. The letter asks for the Judicial Council to heed the warnings of public health experts as well as the frightening precedent of places like Rikers Island and Cook County Jail that have seen the deaths of people incarcerated there from COVID-19. In the context of jails that are woefully equipped to maintain sanitary conditions, provide adequate testing, or follow any of the CDC guidelines for care, it is pressing that people incarcerated in the jails spend less time there rather than more. The letter urges the Judicial Council to amend the orders so as to preserve the statutory timelines set out in the California Penal Code for people currently in custody so they will not be subjected to prolonged periods of time in facilities that place them at incredibly high risk of serious injury or death due to COVID-19.

Read the letter.

Resources on Bail

Students in the first ever Bail Practicum at UCLA School of Law, co-taught by Alicia Virani and Robin Steinberg, partnered with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office to provide robust representation to clients in pretrial detention. During the Fall semester, UCLA Law students appeared on the record in 12 felony cases to advocate for their client’s release pretrial. 70% of the students cases resulted in either a bail reduction or the client being released on their own recognizance. This project is particularly important at a time when cash bail is in flux in the state of California.

From their experience conducting these bail hearings over the semester, students created the following resources for public defenders as well as the families and communities of those incarcerated pretrial. The students who created these materials are: Maryam Abidi, Kelsey Atkinson, Sarah Austin, Taylor De Laveaga, Adella Gorgen, Kaveh Landsverk, Delaram Kamalpour, Alexandra Trantham, Ethan Van Buren, and Jeremy Varon.

More Information

Contact Information

Máximo Langer
Faculty Director, Criminal
Justice Program

2468 Law Building


Alicia Virani
Associate Director, Criminal
Justice Program

2354 Law Building


Assistant: Katie Henkel