Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho this week filed a high-profile civil lawsuit against the city of Sacramento regarding homeless camps, but it’s unclear when a judge will actually make a ruling.
Two lawsuits filed Monday in Sacramento Superior Court, one by Ho and a companion suit by city residents and business owners, are currently set for a court date Aug. 16, 2024 — nearly a year away.
But court dates will happen sooner than that, Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Rochelle Beardsley said in an email via District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shelly Orio.
“This is the current case management conference date assigned by the court,” the email said. “However, additional dates regarding pretrial litigation will be set as needed in the coming weeks and months.”
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi is assigned to both cases, according to the court website.
The lawsuits ask Sueyoshi to order the city to clear more homeless encampments and provide more mental health and substance use services. They argue the camps are a public safety issue, blocking sidewalks, causing parks to be littered with needles and deterring customers from local businesses.
City officials have said that under its interpretation of the 2018 U.S. Court of Appeals Martin v. Boise case, the city cannot clear camps unless it has spaces to move people into. Currently, there are an estimated 9,300 homeless people countywide, but the city and county only have about 2,300 shelter beds. The council on Aug. 1 tasked City Manager Howard Chan to quickly open more sanctioned campsites called Safe Grounds, but he has not yet done so.
Another civil lawsuit, seeking the opposite type of order from a judge and filed in a separate court system, received a court date relatively quickly.
The Sacramento Homeless Union on June 24, 2022, filed a federal lawsuit asking U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley to issue an order barring the city of Sacramento from clearing homeless camps due to extreme heat. That lawsuit got a first hearing less than a month later, on July 15, 2022. At that time, the judge ordered the city to temporarily stop sweeps — a ruling the city last month appealed.
The case remained open and the union filed another motion in August 2023 again asking Nunley to order the city to pause sweeps, which he did. That order has since expired.
But unlike the Ho lawsuit, the homeless union’s lawsuit was filed in federal court.
The homeless union said it plans to submit an intervention brief in Ho’s lawsuit asking for Sueyoshi to dismiss it.