By Edward Meiners
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Steve Green was denied release from custody here in San Francisco County Superior Court Wednesday after he left a court-appointed drug treatment center on two occasions because of a fear of COVID.
Green is now currently being held on $40,000 bail after being charged with assaulting an elderly person last year.
Green was originally assigned to HealthRIGHT 360 in order to receive drug treatment while his case was ongoing. HealthRIGHT 360 runs several facilities throughout California to provide in-patient medical, mental health and drug treatment.
However, the defendant described a dire situation at the facility in San Francisco. “Somebody had Covid, they were really sick, and they put me in the same room,” said Green.
At the time Green was not vaccinated and was afraid to be at the facility, so he left. “I was scared,” claimed the defendant.
After another outbreak at the facility, Green was eventually placed at a Travelodge Hotel. However, the hotel lacked necessary amenities and Green left there as well. He claimed he left because he had to get clothes.
The prosecution painted a different picture of events. According to prosecutor Cecily Brewster, ankle monitoring showed that Green had traveled between Daly City and San Leandro while he was supposed to be residing at the Travelodge.
Eventually, in March, he removed the monitor and left the hotel permanently. He was picked up by police in early June and has remained in custody since.
Green’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Landon Davis, asserted that Green deserved another opportunity to await his trial outside police custody.
However, when Davis stated his client was open to entering “intensive inpatient treatment” again, Judge Linda Colfax responded, “It seems he’s not able to do so given the events so far.”
A friend of Green’s appeared at the hearing and offered that Green be released to stay at his home. The judge denied this request. “I am not inclined to give release without a specific program in place,” explained Colfax.
The prosecution was open to further treatment for Green, but felt he had to be under supervision of some kind.
“It is the People’s position that this case is too serious [to allow for Green’s release],” asserted DDA Brewster. “Mr. Green is alleged to have taken a stick and hit an elder for no apparent reason, causing injury.”
While, in Brewster’s opinion, these alleged crimes were reprehensible, she also made it clear that other factors were also under consideration. “Green has clear substance abuse problems,” she claimed.
Without a concrete plan for Green’s release, Judge Colfax denied the motion, and Green will continue to be held in custody. However, Brewster stated she would see how quickly Green could meet with San Francisco’s Alternative Sentencing Program. Should he be placed in another facility, Green could file another motion for release.
In Davis’s estimation, Green remains in custody because of a backlog of cases awaiting trial in San Francisco. “The reason he’s still here is because he hasn’t had a trial date,” stated the PD.
Green left the Travelodge only after the court was unable to meet his scheduled trial date of March 12, the PD said, adding Green is not alone in having his trial deferred.
Davis explained that currently over 500 cases in the city were “in limbo,” awaiting trial. “I think there’s no pressure to have these trials resolved,” he said.
While San Francisco’s court system moves at a glacial pace, it is unclear how many people are awaiting trial in inadequate, or in the case of HealthRIGHT 360, possibly dangerous circumstances.