UPDATE: January 16, 2018 – Judge Issues Split Ruling in Money Bail Case
In a split ruling, a federal judge denied summary judgment to both California bail agents and a proposed class of San Francisco arrestees challenging money bail as unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said she could not rule that San Francisco County Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and her office violated detainees’ fundamental right to liberty by holding them because they could not afford bail.
“Given that even those who pay the set bail amount are detained for some measure of time, the court cannot find that any amount of detention per se is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs’ motion thus fails,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote, noting that “the evidence at trial must ultimately show the full context of the detentions at issue.”
She also found the plaintiffs hadn’t met their initial burden of showing some kind of plausible, less restrictive alternative to money bail, saying, “The current record is insufficient on this point.”
Once plaintiffs have made a showing of a plausible, less restrictive alternative, the burden will shift to the California Bail Agents Association, having stepped into the shoes of the Sheriff as intervenor defendant, to show plaintiffs’ proposed alternative would be less effective at serving the government’s compelling interest(s) and/or more restrictive than the existing methods.
CBAA looks forward to a trial on the merits of this important case, and in demonstrating in court that California’s bail law clearly meets constitutional muster.