|Robert Salonga interviewed SF Public Defender Mano Raju for the San Jose Mercury article: Attorney General asks California Supreme Court to restore Humphrey bail-reform ruling. California Attorney General Javier Beccera sent a letter asking the Calfornia Supreme Court to restore a landmark 2018 appellate ruling in the Humphrey case – which requires judges to take ability-to-pay into consideration when setting cash bail – before the CA Supreme Court makes its final ruling.
Kenneth Humphrey was charged with stealing a bottle of cologne and $5 from an elderly neighbor at a San Francisco residential hotel in May 2017. Humphrey’s bail was initially set at $600,000, and later reduced to $350,000, but still well beyond his ability to pay or post bond.
On appeal, the First District court sided with Humphrey’s counsel — the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and nonprofit Civil Rights Corps — and in its 2018 decision wrote that Humphrey was “entitled to a new bail hearing at which the court inquires into and determines his ability to pay, considers nonmonetary alternatives to money bail, and, if it determines petitioner is unable to afford the amount of bail the court finds necessary, follows the procedures and makes the findings necessary for a valid order of detention.”
San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju said in a statement Wednesday that implementing the Humphrey decision is an “an essential safeguard.”
“Without this protection, poor people — many of whom are Black and Brown — will languish in custody instead of having the opportunity to live free, fight their case and participate in effective programming, if necessary, while awaiting their day in court,” Raju said. “Making this decision binding on all California courts is essential to ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system.”