Lopez-Valenzuela v. Arpaio

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 10-15-2014
  • Case #: 11-16487
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: En Banc: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski; Circuit Judges Thomas, McKeown, Berzon, Bybee, Smith, Watford; Dissents by Circuit Judge O'Scannlain and Tallman; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Nguyen
  • Full Text Opinion

If bail is denied for certain serious felony offenses based on the illegal immigration status of the accused, and there is a great presumption of guilt for the charge in question, the substantive component of Due Process granted under the Fourteenth Amendment is violated and is considered to be unlawful pretrial punishment.

In 2006, Proposition 100 was approved by Arizona voters. Proposition 100 prohibited Arizona state courts from setting bail for serious felony offenses for those who entered or have remained in the United States illegally, and if the proof of the charging offense is great. In 2008, Angel Lopez-Valenzuela and Isaac Castro-Armenta, who were both charged with state crimes and held in Maricopa County jails, filed a class action again Maricopa County, the County Sheriff, the County Attorney, and Presiding judge arguing that by not granting undocumented immigrants, arrested for a wide range of felonies, bail or pretrial release is against the substantive component of Due Process granted under the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, the plaintiff's argued that Proposition 100 has no compelling governmental interest and that the laws unlawfully punish arrestees before trial. The district court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification but dismissed the claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On appeal, the Ninth Circuit applied a heightened substantive due process analysis, under United States v. Salerno, in order to determine whether Proposition 100 was unconstitutional. First, the panel considered whether the Proposition violated substantive due process by permitting punishment prior to trial. The panel held that Proposition 100 was an excessive act of power on behalf of the court to assure an arrestee’s presence for trial. Second, the panel applied general due process principles in order to determine if the law constituted an unlawful intrusion of arrestees' liberty. The panel held that Proposition 100 is against substantive due process because: (1) it does not address an established particularly acute problem; (2) is not limited to a specific category of extremely serious offenses; and, (3) does not afford individualized determination of flight risk or dangerousness that is essential, according to Salerno. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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