This class action, filed by the ACLU and other public interest organizations in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenges the legality of two alleged practices of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD): (1) denying bail to people who want to post bail and have already obtained a court order setting bail on the ground that the federal government has filed an "immigration detainer" asking the LASD to hold them; and (2) denying such persons release from the Los Angeles County jail for 48 hours or more on the basis of the immigration detainer, even though all charges against them have been dismissed, they have been acquitted of the charge for which they were being held, they were ordered released, or they have served their sentence. The plaintiffs argued that although immigration detainers are voluntary requests, as a matter of practice and policy, LASD held every person who is the subject of an immigration detainer beyond their release dates solely on the basis of the detainer. According to the Complaint, these practices violated state law, and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and their state law analogues (Cal. Constitution, Art. I, §§ 7, 13).
The Complaint was filed on Oct. 19, 2012. It included five named plaintiffs, and asserted claims on behalf of the putative class of all persons who are or will be (1) detained in the custody of the LASD, (2) have an immigration hold placed on them by ICE while in LASD custody that was not supported by a lawful probable cause determination, (3) are entitled to be released from LASD custody under applicable federal or state law (which creates a liberty interest in such release), (4) due to LASD policy and practice are not released (to the extent that they were otherwise entitled to release) but held in LASD custody on the authority of the ICE hold after they were eligible for release from LASD custody.
The case was soon transferred to Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell. After attempts at mediation, the parties moved into discovery. In the meantime, one of the plaintiffs who had already been released from LASD custody had gone missing and apparently had been deported. On Apr. 27, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted defendants’ motion to dismiss this plaintiff without prejudice. In the same order, Judge O’Connell dismissed as moot this plaintiff’s attorneys’ motion to withdraw as his counsel.
On Jul. 9, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part LASD’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. Judge O’Connell dismissed plaintiffs’ claims for money damages under provisions of the California state constitution (Art. I, §§ 7, 13), finding that these provisions do not confer private rights of action for damages. Furthermore, Judge O’Connell dismissed plaintiffs’ claim under California’s Tom Bane Civil Rights Act for damages for threats, intimidation, or coercion interfering with U.S. or state constitutional rights, finding that plaintiffs had not shown that LASD engaged in such wrongful conduct independently of the detentions. However, Judge O’Connell also denied LASD’s challenge to plaintiffs’ other state law claims. She found that plaintiffs had sufficiently complied with the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act for suing a public entity, and were not barred by public entity immunity because they alleged they were unlawfully confined. She also let stand plaintiffs’ claims against the Sheriff in his official capacity as not duplicative of claims against the County.
On July 28, 2015, Judge O'Connell granted LASD's motion to consolidate this case with a related case, Gonzales v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
. Both plaintiffs and ICE had opposed LASD’s motion, both arguing that the cases involved different defendants and substantially different legal issues and factual questions about defendants’ liability. Nevertheless, Judge O’Connell ordered the consolidation for pretrial purposes, finding the two cases to both concern the legality of ICE detainers, specifically whether they must be supported by individualized probable cause determinations.
On Sept. 17, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend the scheduling order and the pleadings. She allowed plaintiffs to amend their California statutory claims for violations of their right to timely release and release on bail. However, she denied plaintiffs leave to add equal protection claims under California statutes and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, finding that plaintiffs had not shown diligence in requesting an amendment for these claims. Plaintiffs then filed a First Amended Complaint on Oct. 2, 2015.
On Nov. 20, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint, as well as granting defendants’ motion to strike several paragraphs of the complaint pleading equal protection claims. For the latter, Judge O’Connell found that these pleadings were barred by her Sept. 17, 2015 order. However, Judge O’Connell also ruled in favor of plaintiffs on several points. First, she found that defendants’ state statutory discretionary immunity did not bar plaintiffs’ claims, as plaintiffs did not allege that a public employee engaged in a discretionary act or omission causing injury. She also found that plaintiffs stated a valid negligence per se claim under state law (though she also dismissed another negligence per se claim as duplicative). Finally, she found that plaintiffs adequately pleaded an actionable coercive act independently of the detentions themselves, by alleging that LASD falsely recorded and treated ICE detainers as mandatory detentions.
On Dec. 7, 2015, plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint, slightly modifying the claims in the initial complaint. They alleged violations of Fourth Amendment due process and unlawful seizure; and state law on false imprisonment, negligence per se, release on bail, and timely release.
On Sept. 9, 2016, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs’ motions for class certification. She certified most of plaintiffs’ proposed classes and subclasses. For the Roy
plaintiffs, the classes and subclasses certified included all LASD inmates held on the basis of ICE detainers beyond their scheduled time of release from custody, so long as they did not have final orders of removal. Some of these would have otherwise been eligible to post bail. For the Gonzalez
plaintiffs, the classes certified included all persons in the Central District of California subject to an ICE detainer and held for at least 48 hours, but who were not in removal proceedings and had not been issued final orders of removal or ICE administrative warrants.
On Feb. 22, 2017, a class of the Roy
plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment, asking the court to end ICE’s use of detainers for over 48 hours with no judicial determination of probable cause for this detention. Plaintiffs alleged the issue was appropriate for summary judgment because ICE had admitted that no judge reviews ICE detainers to determine probable cause within 48 hours of the arrest. This lack of determination, plaintiffs alleged, thus violated the Fourth Amendment. The court has not yet ruled on this motion.
This case is ongoing.Dan Osher - 05/27/2013
Tania Morris Diaz - 12/05/2014
Ava Morgenstern - 03/09/2017