Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Ford postponed a decision Friday on the legality of a 1990 state law that allows counties to charge cities for booking prisoners into county-run jails.
Ventura County cities have refused to pay the fees. In return, the county has withheld about $700,000 in property taxes from the cities.
As a result of the county's decision, the cities have cut their jail bookings considerably, leaving minor crime offenders on the streets, police said.
In an attempt to get their money back, cities in 17 counties around the state have sued to have the state law overturned. Ford is scheduled to render a decision at a March 27 hearing.