Phil Telfeyan Speaks about his Suit against Money Bail

Jeff Adachi (right) poses next to Phil Telfeyan (left) and Vanguard Director David Greenwald (center)
Jeff Adachi (right) poses next to Phil Telfeyan (left) and Vanguard Director David Greenwald (center)

Saturday night marked a successful Vanguard Court Watch event with San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi as the keynote speaker.  Phil Telfeyan discussed the lawsuit against bail reform filed in federal court by his group, Equal Justice Under the Law, which challenges the monied bail system.  A panel discussion also featured the ACLU’s Mica Doctoroff and Jessica Bartholow from the Western Center on Law & Poverty.

In his talk, Phil Telfeyan discussed the plight of his client – a woman with no criminal record and responsible for the care of her 80-year-old grandmother.  Because of the bail put on her, she would have had to come up with $15,000 in bail.  She needed immediate release from custody, Mr. Telfeyan explained, and the bail bonds people allowed her to come up with just $1500 but she would have to pay back the full $15,000 bail at the highest rate of interest allowed under the law.

Amazingly, the case against her was exceedingly weak and the San Francisco District Attorney’s office dropped the charges – but that did not end her bail obligations to pay back the debt.  Now she and her family are having to pay $200 a month for years.

The Vanguard audience, thanks to Sunny Shine’s agreement to match all money raised, raised $436 for this woman and Ms. Shine matched that to raise the donation to $872, which can allow her to not have to make payments for four months.

This troubling case raises the need for bail reform.

Here are the remarks of Phil Telfeyan:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Davis Progressive

    for those wondering why the issue of bail is important, listen to the video and the story that telfeyan tells – and remember that woman’s life is ruined and she committed no crime that she was convicted of.

  2. Alan Miller

    I’m convinced.  I was unaware (probably because I’ve never had a direct or indirect touch with the system) that you still had to pay your 10% if you were not convicted.  That would be a difficult push for someone who is living paycheck-to-paycheck, as most people do.  This sounds like the bail equivalent of confiscating property at drug raids before a conviction, and allowing the sale to enhance government budgets.  I’d like to hear the “con” argument (from someone other than a bail bondsperson).

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