FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 8, 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: PubDef-MediaRelations@sfgov.org | (628) 249-7946
Judge Dismisses Case Against Woman Held in SF Jail for 2.5 Years, Citing Lack of Evidence
Sarina Borg was jailed nearly two years past her Constitutionally mandated trial deadline
SAN FRANCISCO — On Nov. 7, a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed charges against Sarina Borg, a mother who had been detained in SF County Jail without bail for nearly two years past her Constitutionally mandated deadline to face trial, and for more than two and a half years total. Borg was accused of aiding and abetting a homicide in May 2020, and her case finally went to trial in October 2022. On Monday, Judge Teresa Caffese found that the prosecution failed to present substantial evidence that Borg was aware of the intentions of the individual who is alleged to be the shooter, and granted Borg’s motion for a directed verdict of acquittal before the case could go to the jury. Deputy Public Defender Alexandra Pray represented Borg.
“Ms. Borg has maintained her innocence since the beginning and never waived her right to a speedy trial,” said Pray. “While we are relieved that the judge rightfully dismissed these charges, Ms. Borg’s prolonged pretrial incarceration has been deeply traumatic to her health and the well-being of her family.”
The dismissal of charges against Borg comes amid an oppressive trial backlog that has left hundreds of people waiting for their day in court to defend themselves against charges for which they stand accused. The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office has been tracking the growing trial backlog in San Francisco Superior Court. According to the latest available data from Oct. 4, there are 770 individuals awaiting trial whose Constitutionally-mandated trial deadlines had passed, and 180 of those individuals remain incarcerated in SF County Jail.
“When a mother is forced to sit in jail for 2.5 years while the court continues to violate speedy trial deadlines for hundreds of people, and when prosecutors aggressively pursue charges where they cannot meet the burden of proof, we all need to question what it means to be presumed innocent in San Francisco,” said Public Defender Mano Raju, whose office has been pushing SF Superior Court to address the alarming backlog that has delayed hundreds of trials and left people languishing in jail under isolating and dangerous conditions throughout the pandemic. “I commend Ms. Borg and her defense team for never giving up on defending her innocence, especially in the face of such egregious violations of her rights and liberty.”
The defense team was led by Deputy Public Defender Alexandra Pray; Deputy Public Defender Eric Fleischaker as second chair; Investigator Jose Mendoza; Paralegals Nathan Conn and Melissa Campos; and Law Clerks Sara Westcot and Grant Schwall.