Watch CBS News

San Francisco public defender office protests court case backlog

Mounting backlog in San Francisco courts prompts protest
Mounting backlog in San Francisco courts prompts protest 03:02

SAN FRANCISCO -- The public defender's office in San Francisco has organized a series of sit-ins to protest the backlog in the court system that they say violates the constitution by excessively detaining people without a trial. 

San Francisco public defender's office Chief of Policy Angela Chan says she's frustrated about the severe trial backlog.

SF court backlog protest
SF court backlog protest CBS

"There's a human rights crisis in our jails, right down the street. Right next to this courthouse. 15 people are detained pretrial past their constitutionally mandated speedy trial deadline under the 6th Amendment," explained Chan.

On Friday, she joined dozens of public defenders outside the Hall of Justice to launch the "Summer Sit-Ins," a series of demonstrations to raise awareness about the issue. 

"That's why we are spending our limited resources to be out here every Friday for two months. Because if these individuals were a different skin color or had more money, there's no way the courts would do this," Chan said, drawing attention to the potential disparities within the justice system.

She said currently more than 1,100 individuals are awaiting their trial date. According to Chan, a trial date should be set within 30 days of arrest for a misdemeanor case and 60 days for a felony case. The existing backlog is causing significant delays.

To address the backlog, Chan proposes that the Superior Court consider dismissing some cases that have exceeded their trial deadlines. Additionally, she suggests increasing the number of trials and utilizing vacant buildings to accommodate court proceedings.

The San Francisco Superior Court issued a statement in response to the mounting concerns.  

"We are committed to fair and prompt handling of all cases. We will continue to send criminal cases to trial in a timely manner based on the priorities set out by the Legislature and the appellate courts," the statement read. 

The court is currently reviewing the decision made by the Court of Appeal and considering its options, refraining from further comments due to pending litigation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.