SF Examiner Reports on the “Legal Logjam” in SF Courts Keeping Hundreds in Jail Past Trial Deadlines

“If we’re going to prioritize anything as The City reopens, the most important thing to prioritize, according to our Constitution, should be people’s right to liberty,” [raju] said.

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office has been raising the alarm on pandemic-induced trial delays that have impacted hundreds of accused people who are waiting to go to trial, many of them months past their legal deadline for trial, and stuck in jail under 23-hour lockdown unable to visit family members in person and feeling increased pressure to take plea deals just to get out. These are people like our client Mr. Welch who spent a year in jail, eight months past his trial deadline, yet was finally acquitted by a jury in under an hour. Veteran San Francisco reporter Al Saracevic, now at the SF Examiner, interviewed Public Defender Mano Raju about the efforts he and the office continue to make to get the SF Superior Court to utilize more courtrooms and get creative to address this constitutional and humanitarian crisis in San Francisco courts and jails. The story ran on the front page of the Sunday Examiner on May 8, 2022.

“I don’t know what the sticking point is,” said Raju. “We should have every single Civic Center courtroom in every possible San Francisco courtroom. And if we need to use other buildings in The City, let’s do that. We’ll try cases anywhere. High school gyms. Moscone Center. Wherever it needs to be. Just give us a space.”


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