Yesterday, the federal court for the Northern District of California granted class certification in Buffin v. San Francisco, the lawsuit challenging San Francisco money bail as unconstitutional. Now, if the court strikes down the money bail system, the ruling will apply to all class members, thousands of San Franciscans who are jailed solely because of their poverty.
In the decision, the court certified the following class:
“All pre-arraignment arrestees (i) who are, or will be, in the custody of the San Francisco Sheriff; (ii) whose bail amount is determined by the Felony and Misdemeanor Bail Schedule as established by the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco; (iii) whose terms of pretrial release have not received an individualized determination by a judicial officer; and (iv) who remain in custody for any amount of time because they cannot afford to pay their set bail amount.”
Equal Justice Under Law, a Washington D.C.-based civil rights nonprofit, filed the lawsuit on Oct. 28, 2015 on behalf of Riana Buffin and Crystal Patterson, who were unable to afford their bail after being arrested in San Francisco in 2015. The lawsuit alleges that San Francisco’s bail system violates the principles of due process and equal protection, making it unconstitutional.
This is a big step forward in the litigation and brings the plaintiffs one step closer to vindication in this case. We look forward to helping to end this inherently discriminatory system that creates one system of justice for people who are rich and another for people who are poor.