After careful consideration and consultation with impacted communities, advocates, and the
Debt Free Justice California (DFJC) coalition, Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D – LA) has made the
groundbreaking Families Over Fees Act a two-year bill.
Three years ago, during Brandon Greene’s first week working as a lawyer in a new clinic affiliated with the East Bay Community Law Center, he was handed a stack of cases to review. Each involved a client who was struggling to pay down the fines and fees that easily accumulate in California’s criminal justice system. It was his job to help. A handful of the cases were so old that he couldn’t find current contact information for the clients. He quickly realized that “some of those folks,” even if he did reach them, “could not get back on their feet at all” because of their debt. “The folks who were being affected were mostly indigent,” he said. “Everything costs money. Every program costs money. And a lot of folks can’t afford to pay these things.”
In 2017, Neumann helped represent First They Came for the Homeless, an organized encampment, against an eviction by BART. In 2018, he represented the RV-based Berkeley Friends on Wheels, and assisted in representing Oakland’s Housing and Dignity Village camp. He’s now working on a lawsuit against Caltrans, which, according to Neumann, has been “taking property and destroying it,” a violation, he argues, of the Fourth Amendment.