Bay Area Legal Aid files lawsuit to compel San Francisco Police Department to comply with the law and protect survivors of domestic violence

Categories: Announcements, Homepage, News

UPDATED May 16, 2019:

Since our filing, we have seen significant coverage of this critical issue for survivors’ legal rights in Bay Area media. Stories filed to date include:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bay Area Legal Aid files lawsuit to compel San Francisco Police Department to comply with the law and protect survivors of domestic violence 

Contact: Taylor Brady, tbrady@baylegal.org, P: (510) 250-5234, Mobile (415) 314-0697; Fawn Jade Korr, fkorr@baylegal.org, (415) 982-1300 ext. 6351; Jeanne Finberg, jeanne.finberg@gmail.com, (510) 504-8871.

SAN FRANCISCO – Bay Area Legal Aid attorney Fawn Jade Korr and pro bono co-counsel Jeanne Finberg filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, May 6, 2019, to force the San Francisco Police Department to fulfill its legal and ethical responsibilities to keep survivors of domestic violence safe. The SFPD has failed to comply with CA Family Code § 6228, a statute enacted 20 years ago requiring law enforcement agencies to produce copies of incident reports when requested by domestic violence survivors within 5 working days of the request.

“At its core, this law was enacted to protect women,” says Bay Area Legal Aid attorney Fawn Jade Korr. “It is unacceptable that SFPD has been unable to achieve compliance with this statute and we intend to hold them accountable.”

It has been nearly two years since Bay Area Legal Aid raised this issue with the Department; other advocates have worked for many years to call attention to the Department’s noncompliance. Over the past year, attorneys and advocates have worked in good faith with the Department and members of the Police Commission to arrive at a compliance plan. With repeated delays, communication breakdowns, and no viable plan in sight, Bay Area Legal Aid is now taking legal action to spur the Department and City Attorney into action. Making incident reports available quickly facilitates timely action on restraining orders in situations where even a short delay can mean additional violence, injury, and death.

“We don’t know how many women have died as a result of SFPD’s failure to act to enforce this law,” says pro bono counsel Jeanne Finberg, “but we do know that women who cannot get orders for protection are in danger. And we know that women will continue to be injured and killed as a result of SFPD’s footdragging. Protecting against abusers is serious business, and it’s time that SFPD got with the program.”

“Our primary concern is the safety of our clients, and the safety of the unrepresented survivors in our community,” says Korr. “San Francisco needs to understand that this law is part of a coordinated and comprehensive approach to violence against women and SFPD has a clear duty to comply with this law. It owes its survivors of domestic violence that much.”

View the petition filed in SF Superior Court here.