FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 30, 2022
CONTACT: SF Public Defender’s Office |Valerie.Ibarra@sfgov.org | (628)249-7946
SF Jury Acquits Man Who Spent 331 Days in Jail, Nearly 8 Months Past his Legal Deadline for Trial
SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday, a San Francisco jury acquitted Isaac Tuialuuluu of a felony assault charge after finding that he was acting in self-defense during a family dispute in March 2021. Mr. Tuialuuluu spent a total of 331 days in SF County Jail, and a trial courtroom was not made available until February 2022, nearly 8 months past the original trial deadline.
Deputy Public Defender Scott Grant, who led the defense team for Mr. Tuialuuluu, said, “We are relieved and grateful that the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, but we are also dismayed that it took this long for this case to go to trial while Mr. Tuialuuluu suffered the indecency of pandemic conditions in SF County Jail.”
The defense team included Deputy Public Defender Scott Grant, Paralegal Liliana Vera, Investigator Collin Olsen, and UC Berkeley law student intern Natalie Kaliss.
San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju has taken legal actions to compel SF Superior Court to follow state law and prioritize criminal trials for people in custody, hundreds of whom have seen the statutory deadlines for their trials pass. In February, Mr. Raju and a group of taxpayers, which included mothers of incarcerated adults, filed a petition in the California Court of Appeal seeking relief for the growing number of people whose speedy trial rights have been violated.
“I implore the Court to follow the example of other counties to find ways to make more courtroom space available for criminal jury trials and end the injustice that hundreds of legally innocent people are having to endure due to the growing trial backlog,” said Mr. Raju.
“I implore the Court to follow the example of other counties to find ways to make more courtroom space available for criminal jury trials and end the injustice that hundreds of legally innocent people are having to endure due to the growing trial backlog,” said Mr. Raju. “I applaud our skilled and dedicated Public Defender team who helped secure the acquittal of Mr. Tuialuuluu. Other community members who are trapped in jail, like Mr. Tuialuuluu was, have a right to have their cases tried.”
As of January 2022, there were nearly 250 people – making up 30% of the San Francisco County Jail population – whose trial deadlines had passed. The jail remains under pandemic conditions, subjecting people to 23-hour lockdowns, no exposure to sunlight, and no in-person family visits.