Today I attended the "Stand Up for Justice" Rally at San Francisco City Hall! This event was organized by the Bar Association of San Francisco, and our Attorney General Kamala Harris showed up as well as many other amazing lawyers and politicians. The focus was on how the lack of court funding is affecting our most vulnerable citizens.
|CA Attorney General Kamala Harris addresses the importance of the court system to access to justice and equality for ALL|
|SF Mayor Ed Lee|
Kelly Dermody, the President of the Bar Association of San Francisco, hosted the event and introduced all the speakers. The first was of course, none other than Miss Attorney General, Kamala Harris. Harris stressed the importance of proper funding for our court system. The people who will suffer the most from the drastic cuts to the court system in California are the underprivileged and underrepresented. She emphasized that having access to justice is a fundamental tenet upon which this country was founded, and to close the doors to the courts means to close the doors to justice.
|Supervisor David Chiu|
|SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi (also a Hastings alum!)|
The severe defunding of the court system has given rise to some really crucial constitutional issues such as due process of law. People will be waiting longer and longer to receive justice. Hearings are postponed time after time and the line for the court clerk (which is open one hour less each day) is out of control. At 4:00 pm when the clerk's office closes, whoever is still in line is out of luck. They cannot even use a drop box; they must simply COME BACK another time.
Many of these people are victims of domestic violence. Imagine this, ladies: Your abusive husband just beat you and you have bruises all over your body. As you pick up the phone to call the police, he yells at you and tells you that if you call the police, both you and your child won't be long for this earth. You have no choice but to leave and go immediately to the court to file a restraining order. You get to the court, wait in line for hours with your restless and frightened child, and alas, it is 4:00. The court doors close in your face and you have not even had the chance to file your papers.
Now what? Do you go back home and risk your lives? Do you stay in a shelter? Nobody in this country should be faced with this kind of dilemma. The courts need to be open, accessible, well funded and staffed so that every citizen has equal access to justice. The de-funding of the court system is real, and it is a scary thing for many people, especially victims of domestic violence.
Take a look at what has happened just in the Bay Area alone:
- San Francisco has closed six courtrooms
- 67 court personnel were laid off, including 29 court reporters and ALL 8 court funded commissioners
- In San Mateo, 114 positions were eliminated
There is a crisis going on in the justice system, and it affects all of us. Here were some of my favorite speakers from today.
|Senator Joe Dunn (Ret.) (State Bar of California)|
|Justice Carlos Moreno (Ret.)|
|Judge La Doris Dordell (Ret.)|
|Ramon Arias (Bay Area Legal)|
|Julie Rumsey (SEIU)|
Click here to find your elected representatives! If you are not familiar with them, this is the time to find out who they are and what they are all about! They were elected to serve you and if you are unhappy, you need to let them know.
Call Governor Jerry Brown at: (916) 445-2841.
|Me (second to the right) and 3 of my awesome BLSA buddies at the rally!|