‘That policy argument can be acted upon only by … political branches of government, or perhaps by Congress—but not by federal judges applying California law…’
(Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times) A federal appeals court Monday unanimously upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against San Francisco for failing to alert immigration authorities of the release of the immigrant who killed Kathryn Steinle.
The suit, brought by Steinle’s parents, alleged that San Francisco was negligent for failing to comply with a 2015 request by Immigration and Customs Enforcement representatives to hold the jailed immigrant until federal authorities could take custody.
Juan Francisco Lopez–Sanchez, also known as Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, shot and killed Steinle, 32, near Pier 14 of San Francisco’s Embarcadero about 2 months after his release from county jail.
Lopez–Sanchez was in the country without legal authorization.
“The tragic and unnecessary death of Steinle may well underscore the policy argument” against a former sheriff’s decision “to bar his employees from providing the release date of a many-times convicted felon to ICE,” a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided.
“But that policy argument can be acted upon only by California’s state and municipal political branches of government, or perhaps by Congress—but not by federal judges applying California law as determined by the California Supreme Court,” the panel said.
A San Francisco jury in 2017 acquitted Lopez–Sanchez of homicide charges, finding him guilty instead of being a felon in possession a gun.
His lawyer argued that he found the gun, which was wrapped in cloth, on the pier, and the weapon accidentally discharged when he unwrapped it.
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