A federal judge in Oakland has dismissed a host of motions that would have fast-tracked a constitutional challenge to the use of monetary bail in San Francisco, but she allowed a Washington, D.C., group to continue a civil rights lawsuit that could have a nationwide impact.
The organization Equal Justice Under Law brought the lawsuit in October on behalf of two low-income women arrested in San Francisco but never formally charged. The lawsuit alleges Riana Buffin's $30,000 bail and Crystal Patterson's $150,000 bail amounted to a punishment that unequally hits poor people, in violation of the 14th Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law.
"If you're very rich, you can purchase your freedom, even if you're rich and dangerous," plaintiffs' lead attorney Phil Telfeyan said. "In fact, it's better to be rich and dangerous in San Francisco than poor and have no risk."
"I understand your big-picture argument," U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers told Telfeyan. "Your job as the plaintiffs' attorney is to figure out how to get there."