What’s Happening in San Francisco Courtrooms 

What’s happening in city courthouses often goes unnoticed by the general public. To help make this information more accessible, the Foghorn has compiled a list of San Francisco court case updates.

Protestors chained themselves to each other and their vehicles, and reportedly threw their car keys into the bay, as a means to halt all traffic on the bridge. Screenshot from @sfchronicle on Instagram.
  1. Bay Bridge Protesters Arraigned in Court

On Friday Feb. 2, 80 protesters were arraigned in court for their involvement with the Bay Bridge Shutdown, a large-scale protest in support of a cease-fire in Gaza in which protesters shutdown the Bay Bridge last November, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. 

Pro-Palestine activists rallied outside the court, demanding the protesters’ charges be dropped. The protesters were charged with five misdemeanors, including false imprisonment, refusal to comply with a peace officer, and unlawful public assembly, as reported by NBC Bay Area.

Friday was the second round of arraignments for protesters involved in the Bay Bridge shutdown, the first happened on Thursday, Feb. 1.

On Feb. 1 approximately 40 of the protesters’ defense attorneys argued for the charges to be dropped and requested an opportunity to rival them in front of a judge.  The next hearing is scheduled for March 14.

In a Feb. 2 press release from her office, Jenkins “reassert[ed]” her “commitment to pursuing justice to ensure that the suspect is held accountable for this senseless crime.” Screenshot from @sfchronicle on Instagram.
  1. Jenkins Speaks Out on Defendant’s Court Absence

Dennis James Duree, 40, is accused of stabbing two people in the Mission and SoMa districts on Dec. 28, 2023: fatally maiming a 45-year-old man and severely injuring a 38-year-old woman, according to a District Attorney press release. He was arrested, charged with murder on Jan. 16 and immediately placed in the San Francisco County Jail. 

As of this week, it has been eight times that Duree’s presence was requested in the courtroom. He has yet to leave custody in the jail. 

Duree’s situation is reflective of a larger theme in San Francisco courthouses — defendants refusing to appear in court to delay their prosecution, an issue which San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has been quite vocal about. 

“This is not an isolated situation,” Jenkins told the San Francisco Standard.  “It has become what is allowed at the Hall of Justice.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told the San Francisco Chronicle that only in a “very specific set of circumstances” can a defendant be forcibly removed from their cell. Duree’s situation does not warrant such a removal. 

On the day of publication, Duree has an arraignment scheduled in the courthouse. It is yet to be seen whether he will attend. If he is convicted of all charges, he could face up to 40 years in prison. 

  1. General Motors Sues the City of San Francisco

Cruise’s parent company, General Motors (GM), is suing the city of San Francisco. The corporation claims that the city overtaxed them from 2016-2022, requesting a refund of $108 million in taxes and $13 million in interest and penalties, according to court documents

The basis of the suit is GM’s claim that since they are based in Detroit, Mich., the taxes coming from the City are unfair. 

GM further argues that the taxes are invalid due to their company’s low sales in the city, which they claim were approximately $677,000 in the past year.

This comes following the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspending Cruise’s permits to operate in the city, after an incident last October where an automated vehicle dragged a pedestrian for 20 feet. GM concurrently pulled all autonomous vehicles off the streets. 

GM’s lawsuit is an amendment to one which began in 2021, the Hill reports, in which GM sought a refund for the 201 -2020 tax years. It has grown in size and significance with this amended filling. 

Both the City of San Francisco and GM have declined to publicly comment on the case proceedings. 

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, News Editor: Niki Sedaghat

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