Public Defender Mano Raju and DA Chesa Boudin Condemn ICE Arrest outside SF Criminal Court

(From SF PD and SF DA press release) — On election day, Tuesday, March 3, federal immigration agents arrested a San Francisco resident in front of the courthouse steps of 850 Bryant Street as he was entering criminal court for a hearing. ICE agents acted without a judicial warrant and therefore in violation of state law.

The San Francisco Public Defender and the District Attorney have condemned this action, and are calling on ICE to stop making courthouse arrests.  Advocates say that this is the first time this type of courthouse immigration enforcement has occurred in San Francisco. Two weeks ago, ICE agents arrested at least 3 people at the Sonoma County Superior Court Campus.

“California law explicitly forbids a civil enforcement agency, including ICE, from making a civil arrest without a warrant outside a courthouse. ICE’s illegal conduct undermines community trust and public safety. This type of action scares people—including victims, witnesses, the accused, or those participating in treatment – and deters them from coming to court,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju. “San Francisco will not allow such egregious abuse of power to go unchecked; we will provide immediate and zealous representation to anyone subject to such illegal activity.”

“ICE actions in or near our courthouses deters people from accessing our justice system, making us all less safe,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

“ICE’s conduct here disturbed and disrupted the entire court,” said Emi Maclean, Deputy Public Defender. “We will stand up to prevent these attacks. The Bay Area has a vibrant network of legal and community advocates who are ready to provide immediate and aggressive defense for immigrants caught up in these kinds of illegal actions.”

Studies have proven that sanctuary cities are safer than non-sanctuary cities. Crime is lower in sanctuary counties compared with non-sanctuary counties. Victims are also more likely to come forward, and immigrant communities are more likely to participate as witnesses to crimes.

There will be a joint press conference with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and community organizations on Monday, March 9, at 12pm on the steps of 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco. Details to follow.

All Charges Dismissed Against Edgewood Employee

(From Press Release – Public Defender’s Office)  –  This morning, all charges were dismissed against Kenneth Ofigho, 31, a former employee of Edgewood Center, who has consistently maintained his innocence after being wrongly accused of inappropriately touching a minor in April 2019.

The charges were dismissed after a lengthy review of all the evidence, including the lack of any DNA evidence, and a witness who was present and did not corroborate the allegations. The court also diligently reviewed over 700 pages of records from Edgewood Center, which describes itself as a facility that helps individuals and their loved ones who struggle with mental illness and behavioral health issues. Ultimately, Assistant District Attorney Lalah Morris dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence to support the burden of proof.

Deputy Public Defender Sylvia Nguyen said, “Mr. Ofigho has been living a nightmare for almost a year and, unfortunately, he will suffer the professional ramifications of these false allegations for years to come despite his innocence.”

Mr. Ofigho had absolutely no contact with the criminal legal system prior to these allegations. Numerous current and former co-workers, along with family and friends, submitted letters of support and offered to testify to his good character.

Ms. Nguyen added, “The presumption of innocence failed Mr. Ofigho from the start. Since these accusations were made, he was taken to jail, later placed on house arrest, lost his job, and was publicly humiliated by having his name and picture circulated in the news media. Thanks to our team’s relentless investigation and persistence in seeking the truth, he has been vindicated and is finally free to move forward with his life.”

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