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Judicial Watch announced that the Superior Court of California, San Francisco County overruled San Francisco Sheriff Vicky Hennessy’s move to end a Judicial Watch taxpayer lawsuit challenging the Sheriff’s sanctuary policy. The lawsuit challenges restrictions on the ability of sheriff’s deputies to communicate freely with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) about inmates’ citizenship, immigration status, and release dates (Cynthia Cerletti v. Vicki Hennessy, Sheriff (No. CGC-16-556164)).
The November 21, 2017 ruling came in a December 2016 lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch on behalf of California taxpayer Cynthia Cerletti. The lawsuit alleges Sheriff Hennessy’s restrictions on communications with ICE conflict with federal immigration law and are therefore invalid.
San Francisco’s sanctuary policy received national attention on July 1, 2015, when Kathryn Steinle was gunned down at one the city’s most popular tourist spots, allegedly by Jose Ines Garcia Zarate (formerly known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez), an illegal alien who had been released from the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department despite a request from ICE that he be detained for possible deportation. On Thursday, November 30, a San Francisco jury acquitted Zarate of murder.
In rejecting the attempt to end the lawsuit, presiding Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn wrote there is “sufficient support at this stage of the case for Ms. Cerletti’s allegation that the Sheriff’s policy prohibiting or restricting release information about suspected priority aliens stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of Congress’ asserted purpose of enabling federal immigration officials to gain access to inmates who may have violated federal immigration laws.” The lawsuit may now proceed to discovery.