Herzog is gone forever, but his untimely death should not affect court proceedings or legislation approved by the California legislature designed to prevent the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from releasing a parolee in a different county than the one in which they committed their offense without the mandatory notice required by California law.
Lassen County and Susanville attorneys await a decision from the appellate court that may come any day now regarding a writ of mandate the county filed alleging the state did not follow the proper procedure when it paroled Herzog in Lassen County.
A writ of mandate is the process used to compel a governmental agency to comply with the law.
The point may be moot with Herzog’s death — his apparent suicide has removed him from Lassen County forever — but a definitive ruling from the appellate court could help Lassen County, as well as other counties, should the state attempt to dump an infamous parolee somewhere else with little notification.
The Lassen County writ is important because the state did not honor the old 45-day notification period in Herzog’s parole.
State law now requires counties receive a 60-day notice from CDCR before releasing a parolee in a county other than the one in which he or she was convicted. Lassen County received a two-day notice Herzog would be paroled here, spreading outrage throughout the region.
Lassen County Superior Court Judge Donald Sokol ruled in favor of the writ filed by former Lassen County Senior Deputy County Counsel Traci Witry and Susanville City Attorney Peter Talia Nov. 8, 2011.
According to Sokol’s ruling, Herzog was to be immediately removed from Lassen County.
The state appealed Sokol’s ruling, obtained a stay and the matter is now under review by the appellate court.
Dan Logue, representing the Third Assembly District, has been a strong advocate for Northeastern California.
He sponsored AB 44, legislation requiring the state to increase the notice period for law enforcement and the citizens for public comment.
Witnesses and victims receive a 90-day notice from CDCR.
AB 44 passed the assembly by a 74-0 vote and by a 34-0 vote in the senate.
The California State Association of Counties, California State Sheriffs’ Association, the Regional Council for Rural Counties and the Urban Counties Caucus supported the bill. There was no opposition.
Herzog is dead, that’s certain, but the efforts by Lassen County and its elected officials in the state legislature should not be in vain.
No county in the state and its citizens should ever again have to endure the horror of having a serial killer released in its midst without the proper notice and without an opportunity to respond or comment just because it’s a convenient solution for a state agency.
We pray Lassen County, Susanville and its representatives in the state legislature will continue to carry the day.
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