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One judge cannot increase bail previously set by another judge, even if the second jurist believes the original decision was in error, a state appeal court ruled Wednesday. “For one superior court judge, no matter how well intended, even if correct as a matter of law, to nullify a duly made, erroneous ruling of another superior court judge places the second judge in the role of a one-judge appellate court,” Justice Laurence Rubin wrote for Los Angeles’ Second District Court of Appeal. “Stated slightly differently,” he continued, “because a superior court is but one tribunal, an order ‘made in one department during the progress of a cause can neither be ignored nor overlooked in another department …’” Justices Candace Cooper and Paul Boland concurred. The decision comes in a case in which L.A. County Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan increased Wilmer Eduardo Alberto’s bail from the $35,000 previously set by fellow Judge David Wesley to more than $1 million. Wesley had handled the arraignment for Alberto on charges of attempted murder and second-degree robbery, but Kwan later was assigned the case for all purposes. According to Wednesday’s ruling, Kwan determined that there was good cause to reconsider the amount of bail because she felt Judge Wesley had not complied with statutory standards for departing from the bail schedule for all felony charges and had failed to consider all relevant factors before setting bail at $35,000. Alberto, whose accomplice had tried to shoot a parking lot attendant during an armed robbery, argued that Kwan’s decision didn’t constitute good cause. The appeal court agreed. “The present case,” Justice Rubin wrote, “does not fall within either of two narrow lines of cases which appear to authorize one trial judge to reconsider an issue already decided by a colleague: One, where the first judge is unavailable � or two, where the first order was made through inadvertence, mistake or fraud.” The appeal court remanded the case to the superior court with the option of setting bail at $35,000 or transferring the case back to Judge Wesley to reconsider his earlier ruling. The case is In re Alberto, 02 C.D.O.S. 9863.

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