A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled today that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department may continue to require in-person registration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling was made during a telephonic hearing in response to ACOL’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order.
Although the judge noted that infection to COVID-19 is a “significant concern”, she interpreted state law requirements to obtain fingerprints and photos as to require that all registrants, including those at high risk due to age and/or medical condition, must register in person. She did not address the fact that the Los Angeles Police Department is currently registering individuals by phone only.
“The court’s ruling today shows a complete disregard for the lives of registrants and their families,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.
During oral argument, ACSOL stated that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is not equipped to protect registrants from a potentially fatal exposure to COVID-19. Therefore, denial of the TRO would be unconscionable and barbaric.
The sheriff’s department attorney stated during oral argument that LASC is “taking measures” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its stations. However, the attorney failed to provide any evidence related to those measures.
“The central argument made by the attorney representing the Department of Justice is that it would be difficult for the government to change current registration procedures,” stated Bellucci. According to that attorney, there are more than 500 law enforcement agencies that register individuals on a period basis.
Despite today’s ruling, a lawsuit filed by ACSOL that challenges in-person registration by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continues. The lawsuit was filed on March 26 and is one of a total of five lawsuits filed in state court regarding the same issue. The lawsuits were filed against the City of Murrieta on March 23, against the City of San Diego on March 24, against the City of Sacramento on March 25, against the County of Los Angeles on March 26 and against the County of San Diego on March 27.
In addition, ACSOL filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court on April 1 against the Attorney General challenging the state form created by the AG which falsely states that in-person registration is required. The AG’s form is currently being used by all law enforcement agencies during the registration process.