Last night, in a motion for summary judgment in Buffin v. San Francisco (136, 2017-10-31 P Summary Judgment), Equal Justice Under Law asked the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to declare money bail in the state of California unconstitutional and end its wealth-based detention scheme that traps the poorest among us in a cycle of incarceration and poverty.
The bail industry — acting as the defense since City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Sheriff Vicky Hennessy declared that they would not defend money bail last year — also filed a motion for summary judgment. In their brief, the bail industry trivializes the harm of pretrial detention and ignores the fundamental unconstitutionality of money bail.
Recently, many California officials have spoken out forcefully against money bail:
- In October, Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote in a court filing, “The Department of Justice has determined that it will not defend any application of the bail law that does not take into consideration a person’s ability to pay, or alternative methods of ensuring a person’s appearance at trial.”
- San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced that his office will file challenges in every criminal case in which bail is set.
- Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye established a workgroup that found money bail to be “unsafe and unfair” and recommended replacing money bail with a risk-based assessment program.
As our case moves forward, Executive Director and lead attorney, Phil Telfeyan, is confident that our arguments will prevail and that the court will stand with these others in pushing to bring the money system in California to an end.