Commentary: New Quota System for DA’s Office

One of the most frequent complaints about the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office under former District Attorney David Henderson had been the intractability of their prosecutions. Far too many minor cases were pursued well beyond the point that they should have. The District Attorney’s office often failed to adequately use discretion in which cases to prosecute. And they would be extremely reticent to drop even cases that they either could not win or should not pursue. We can see those practices at work in three fairly high profile cases–the Buzayan case which was dismissed by a Judge, the Khalid Berney case which was dismissed after a judge forced the prosecutors to reintroduce their evidence, and the Bernita Toney case where the Jury acquitted the defendant.

A more reasonable prosecutor’s office would not have pursued convictions in this questionable cases to begin with. In two of the cases, they were pursued because of orders from the command and leadership structure to the Deputy District Attorney that they must obtain a conviction and under no condition could they drop the charges.

This practice does not serve the public good from a fiscal or policy standpoint. The District Attorney’s Office is to represent the interests of the state in pursuing criminal prosecutions. Often, they mistake that for being a prosecution machine where their job is solely to gain convictions rather than pursue actual justice. Sometime justice requires strong prosecutions to put dangerous criminals behind bars and protect society. However, at other times that means using discretion to realize when the public interest is better served by dropping poor cases against individuals who pose no threat or against whom the cases are weak and questionable to begin with.

It is within this framework that newly elected District Attorney Jeff Reisig enters the picture. Reisig of course came with the support of David Henderson as well as most of the deputy district attorneys in this county. That said there was some hope that policies would change. The evidence so far indicates that the policies have not changed.

One clear example is the establishment of a new bulletin board that tracks the progress of cases. Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution. The implication is that those with the most prosecutions are doing the best job. In some ways that sounds like a good incentive.

However, the logical conclusion of this policy is the creation of a quota system. This leads to an inevitable continuation if not exacerbation of the current problems in the system.

First, those Deputy District Attorneys with many cases will be looked at more favorably than those with fewer cases. This means that there is an unstated incentive to get more cases onto the board by pursuing prosecutions rather than dropping charges.

Second, those Deputy District Attorneys with more convictions will look more favorably than those with fewer cases. This means again that there is an unstated incentive to obtain more prosecutions. Again this means that there is a disincentive to drop the charges or the case when it is clear like the cases mentioned above that there is a weak case or no strong compelling public interest to pursue charges.

The implication of this is that those Deputy District Attorneys who pursue more cases and obtain more convictions will be promoted, awarded, acknowledged and that those with fewer will not. Thus an unstated quota system emerges from this practice.

Why is this a bad idea? Statistics can be a measure of good performance on the part of prosecutors, however, they can always indicate dogmatism that serves neither the defendant nor the public interest.

We can use a clear example of police quotas for speeding tickets. Is the officer with more speeding tickets issued doing a better job or is he simply pursuing a greater frequency of marginal cases in order to increase his statistics?

The use of such incentives structures moves us in the wrong direction. It is clear that Jeff Reisig is continuing his predecessor’s questionable prosecutorial discretion and in some ways even outdoing it. Yolo County needs to rethink its policies in this area because a lot of people are unfortunately getting caught in the crossfire and most do not have the resources to fight it.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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.

Related posts

104 thoughts on “Commentary: New Quota System for DA’s Office”

  1. Davisite

    Doug… You appear to have reached a conclusion that this board that tracks the progress of cases will be a quota system and then go on to discuss the very negative aspects of such a quota system. I do not see this in the same light. This board’s role should( and I hope is created to be) similar to the peer-review structure that exists in hospitals and law firms to maintain oversight on cases. If this is the function of the DA board, it can be a positive move.

  2. Davisite

    Doug… You appear to have reached a conclusion that this board that tracks the progress of cases will be a quota system and then go on to discuss the very negative aspects of such a quota system. I do not see this in the same light. This board’s role should( and I hope is created to be) similar to the peer-review structure that exists in hospitals and law firms to maintain oversight on cases. If this is the function of the DA board, it can be a positive move.

  3. Davisite

    Doug… You appear to have reached a conclusion that this board that tracks the progress of cases will be a quota system and then go on to discuss the very negative aspects of such a quota system. I do not see this in the same light. This board’s role should( and I hope is created to be) similar to the peer-review structure that exists in hospitals and law firms to maintain oversight on cases. If this is the function of the DA board, it can be a positive move.

  4. Davisite

    Doug… You appear to have reached a conclusion that this board that tracks the progress of cases will be a quota system and then go on to discuss the very negative aspects of such a quota system. I do not see this in the same light. This board’s role should( and I hope is created to be) similar to the peer-review structure that exists in hospitals and law firms to maintain oversight on cases. If this is the function of the DA board, it can be a positive move.

  5. Davisite

    Doug… I was making the assumption that the board did more than look at a list of pending case and outcomes. You would not need a board for this. As I said, it was my HOPE that the board would have some form of peer-review input for on-going cases as well as an evaluation-review of the outcome of cases.

  6. Davisite

    Doug… I was making the assumption that the board did more than look at a list of pending case and outcomes. You would not need a board for this. As I said, it was my HOPE that the board would have some form of peer-review input for on-going cases as well as an evaluation-review of the outcome of cases.

  7. Davisite

    Doug… I was making the assumption that the board did more than look at a list of pending case and outcomes. You would not need a board for this. As I said, it was my HOPE that the board would have some form of peer-review input for on-going cases as well as an evaluation-review of the outcome of cases.

  8. Davisite

    Doug… I was making the assumption that the board did more than look at a list of pending case and outcomes. You would not need a board for this. As I said, it was my HOPE that the board would have some form of peer-review input for on-going cases as well as an evaluation-review of the outcome of cases.

  9. Davisite

    Doug.. just reread your piece. Do you mean an actual board(bulletin)? where the names, cases and outcomes are posted? If so, as regards my previous posts, NEVER MIND. I guess the idea of a bulletin board posting was so idiotic to me that I misread the word “board” to mean a group of people sitting aroung a table. That made some sense.

  10. Davisite

    Doug.. just reread your piece. Do you mean an actual board(bulletin)? where the names, cases and outcomes are posted? If so, as regards my previous posts, NEVER MIND. I guess the idea of a bulletin board posting was so idiotic to me that I misread the word “board” to mean a group of people sitting aroung a table. That made some sense.

  11. Davisite

    Doug.. just reread your piece. Do you mean an actual board(bulletin)? where the names, cases and outcomes are posted? If so, as regards my previous posts, NEVER MIND. I guess the idea of a bulletin board posting was so idiotic to me that I misread the word “board” to mean a group of people sitting aroung a table. That made some sense.

  12. Davisite

    Doug.. just reread your piece. Do you mean an actual board(bulletin)? where the names, cases and outcomes are posted? If so, as regards my previous posts, NEVER MIND. I guess the idea of a bulletin board posting was so idiotic to me that I misread the word “board” to mean a group of people sitting aroung a table. That made some sense.

  13. Doug Paul Davis

    Good point–I edited “board” so that it reads “bulletin board” so that it is clear to everyone exactly what is being used. To clarify–I don’t mean that they created a board as in a group of people, but a bulletin board that tracks cases, DDAs, and victories.

  14. Doug Paul Davis

    Good point–I edited “board” so that it reads “bulletin board” so that it is clear to everyone exactly what is being used. To clarify–I don’t mean that they created a board as in a group of people, but a bulletin board that tracks cases, DDAs, and victories.

  15. Doug Paul Davis

    Good point–I edited “board” so that it reads “bulletin board” so that it is clear to everyone exactly what is being used. To clarify–I don’t mean that they created a board as in a group of people, but a bulletin board that tracks cases, DDAs, and victories.

  16. Doug Paul Davis

    Good point–I edited “board” so that it reads “bulletin board” so that it is clear to everyone exactly what is being used. To clarify–I don’t mean that they created a board as in a group of people, but a bulletin board that tracks cases, DDAs, and victories.

  17. Anonymous

    I can see how a bulletin board could be effective in helping to monitor progress of cases. It would be a good thing if it helped increase focus on speeding things along.

    However, I agree the monitoring of convictions is a big negative. The goal should be how many times justice prevailed, not how many convictions can be posted onto a wall. I think most people think DA’s have some interest in justice – unfortunately that is not the case and everything comes down to “winning”. SAH

  18. Anonymous

    I can see how a bulletin board could be effective in helping to monitor progress of cases. It would be a good thing if it helped increase focus on speeding things along.

    However, I agree the monitoring of convictions is a big negative. The goal should be how many times justice prevailed, not how many convictions can be posted onto a wall. I think most people think DA’s have some interest in justice – unfortunately that is not the case and everything comes down to “winning”. SAH

  19. Anonymous

    I can see how a bulletin board could be effective in helping to monitor progress of cases. It would be a good thing if it helped increase focus on speeding things along.

    However, I agree the monitoring of convictions is a big negative. The goal should be how many times justice prevailed, not how many convictions can be posted onto a wall. I think most people think DA’s have some interest in justice – unfortunately that is not the case and everything comes down to “winning”. SAH

  20. Anonymous

    I can see how a bulletin board could be effective in helping to monitor progress of cases. It would be a good thing if it helped increase focus on speeding things along.

    However, I agree the monitoring of convictions is a big negative. The goal should be how many times justice prevailed, not how many convictions can be posted onto a wall. I think most people think DA’s have some interest in justice – unfortunately that is not the case and everything comes down to “winning”. SAH

  21. Davisite

    Keeping tract publicly of the number of “kills” and the competition to become the leading “Ace”….sounds like too much testosterone in the DA’s office… Where are you when we need you, Pat Lenzi?

  22. Davisite

    Keeping tract publicly of the number of “kills” and the competition to become the leading “Ace”….sounds like too much testosterone in the DA’s office… Where are you when we need you, Pat Lenzi?

  23. Davisite

    Keeping tract publicly of the number of “kills” and the competition to become the leading “Ace”….sounds like too much testosterone in the DA’s office… Where are you when we need you, Pat Lenzi?

  24. Davisite

    Keeping tract publicly of the number of “kills” and the competition to become the leading “Ace”….sounds like too much testosterone in the DA’s office… Where are you when we need you, Pat Lenzi?

  25. Rich Rifkin

    “One of the most frequent complaints about the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office under former District Attorney David Henderson had been the intractability of their prosecutions. Far too many minor cases were pursued well beyond the point that they should have.”

    Exactly who was lodging theses complaints?

    “The District Attorney’s office often failed to adequately use discretion in which cases to prosecute. And they would be extremely reticent to drop even cases that they either could not win or should not pursue.”

    You would be right in your allegation if it is the case that the Yolo DA’s office under Henderson had an unusually low percentage of convictions in cases which it brought to trial. Do you have objective numbers to prove your charge?

    “We can see those practices at work in three fairly high profile cases–the Buzayan case which was dismissed by a Judge, the Khalid Berney case which was dismissed after a judge forced the prosecutors to reintroduce their evidence, and the Bernita Toney case where the Jury acquitted the defendant.”

    Those are fairly subjective cases. I’m not saying that you are wrong in all three of those. However, anyone can pick out a few cases out of the thousands that went before the DA when Henderson was in charge. It seems to me that your allegation is insubstantial unless you can show what I said above — that the Yolo DA failed in court disproportionately. You very well may be right — I just don’t know the numbers.

    “A more reasonable prosecutor’s office would not have pursued convictions in this questionable cases to begin with.”

    Again, totally subjective.

    “In two of the cases, they were pursued because of orders from the command and leadership structure to the Deputy District Attorney that they must obtain a conviction and under no condition could they drop the charges.”

    Where is your evidence for this allegation? Where are those “orders?”

    “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    Is this unique to Yolo County? I would imagine that most District Attorneys do something similar.

    “The implication is that those with the most prosecutions are doing the best job.”

    Not necessarily. It means they are pursuing the most cases. If those largely turn out to be acquittals, no one would accuse the DDA of “doing the best job.”

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that the DA’s judge each other by their ability to win convictions (or good pleas). They are not morons who get excited because their name goes up on a board.

    “In some ways that sounds like a good incentive. However, the logical conclusion of this policy is the creation of a quota system.”

    Because it is human nature to want to “win,” the logical conclusion is that the only quota that individual DDA’s would like to see next to their names is the number of convictions or guilty pleas.

    “This leads to an inevitable continuation if not exacerbation of the current problems in the system.”

    Though you have claimed that the DA’s office brings a disproportionate number of cases which cannot win in court, you have not proved that point. As such, it’s a stretch to say that the management practice “exacerbates” this problem, when you have yet to objectively demonstrate the problem.

    “First, those Deputy District Attorneys with many cases will be looked at more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    David, don’t ignore human nature. If one DDA is working on, for example, a high profile murder case that will take a year to conclude, and another is mowing over 50 traffic violations, no one will “look more favorably” at the latter DDA. Human nature just does not work that way. People aren’t quite that stupid. Not even your “moderators.”

    “This means that there is an unstated incentive to get more cases onto the board by pursuing prosecutions rather than dropping charges.”

    In fact, that conclusion doesn’t even follow from your very shaky premise. What it would do, if your premise were right, is that it would give DDAs an incentive to get as many plea bargains as possible. When a case is plead out, it moves quickly. If it goes to trial, it takes much more time. So if all a DDA wanted was to handle as many cases as possible, he would have a great incentive to never go to trial.

    “Second, those Deputy District Attorneys with more convictions will look more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    I assume you mean “be looked upon more favorably.” And if so, you are repeating yourself, without establishing your facts or even following a logical conclusion.

    “This means again that there is an unstated incentive to obtain more prosecutions. Again this means that there is a disincentive to drop the charges or the case when it is clear like the cases mentioned above that there is a weak case or no strong compelling public interest to pursue charges.”

    Again, that is completely wrong. You are ignoring the fact that it takes a lot of time to pursue cases that will not result in convictions. If a DA resolves those weak cases quickly, he can make a much bigger name for himself by getting convictions in more promising cases. The DA who pursues the weak cases will be tied up endlessly with those, and thus will get his name on the board much less than his colleagues.

    “The implication of this is that those Deputy District Attorneys who pursue more cases and obtain more convictions will be promoted, awarded, acknowledged and that those with fewer will not.”

    Yes, that is the implication. And because it makes so little logical sense, it almost certainly is a misreading of what is going on in the DA’s office.

    “Thus an unstated quota system emerges from this practice.”

    Whether stated or not, all DA offices have quota systems. They are hired to get convictions. And if a DDA cannot do that, he will not last.

    However, if he pursued your assigned strategy, to treat weak or difficult cases equally with strong ones, he would hamper his conviction quota, and thus not succeed.

    “Why is this a bad idea? Statistics can be a measure of good performance on the part of prosecutors, however, they can always indicate dogmatism that serves neither the defendant nor the public interest.”

    I tend to agree with that. However, because our justice system is antagonistic — the people on one side, the defense on the other — it is human nature that this will accrue. I don’t know of a better way to prosecute crimes, but maybe that is what you should be addressing, whether or not the system should be one of antagonism.

  26. Rich Rifkin

    “One of the most frequent complaints about the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office under former District Attorney David Henderson had been the intractability of their prosecutions. Far too many minor cases were pursued well beyond the point that they should have.”

    Exactly who was lodging theses complaints?

    “The District Attorney’s office often failed to adequately use discretion in which cases to prosecute. And they would be extremely reticent to drop even cases that they either could not win or should not pursue.”

    You would be right in your allegation if it is the case that the Yolo DA’s office under Henderson had an unusually low percentage of convictions in cases which it brought to trial. Do you have objective numbers to prove your charge?

    “We can see those practices at work in three fairly high profile cases–the Buzayan case which was dismissed by a Judge, the Khalid Berney case which was dismissed after a judge forced the prosecutors to reintroduce their evidence, and the Bernita Toney case where the Jury acquitted the defendant.”

    Those are fairly subjective cases. I’m not saying that you are wrong in all three of those. However, anyone can pick out a few cases out of the thousands that went before the DA when Henderson was in charge. It seems to me that your allegation is insubstantial unless you can show what I said above — that the Yolo DA failed in court disproportionately. You very well may be right — I just don’t know the numbers.

    “A more reasonable prosecutor’s office would not have pursued convictions in this questionable cases to begin with.”

    Again, totally subjective.

    “In two of the cases, they were pursued because of orders from the command and leadership structure to the Deputy District Attorney that they must obtain a conviction and under no condition could they drop the charges.”

    Where is your evidence for this allegation? Where are those “orders?”

    “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    Is this unique to Yolo County? I would imagine that most District Attorneys do something similar.

    “The implication is that those with the most prosecutions are doing the best job.”

    Not necessarily. It means they are pursuing the most cases. If those largely turn out to be acquittals, no one would accuse the DDA of “doing the best job.”

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that the DA’s judge each other by their ability to win convictions (or good pleas). They are not morons who get excited because their name goes up on a board.

    “In some ways that sounds like a good incentive. However, the logical conclusion of this policy is the creation of a quota system.”

    Because it is human nature to want to “win,” the logical conclusion is that the only quota that individual DDA’s would like to see next to their names is the number of convictions or guilty pleas.

    “This leads to an inevitable continuation if not exacerbation of the current problems in the system.”

    Though you have claimed that the DA’s office brings a disproportionate number of cases which cannot win in court, you have not proved that point. As such, it’s a stretch to say that the management practice “exacerbates” this problem, when you have yet to objectively demonstrate the problem.

    “First, those Deputy District Attorneys with many cases will be looked at more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    David, don’t ignore human nature. If one DDA is working on, for example, a high profile murder case that will take a year to conclude, and another is mowing over 50 traffic violations, no one will “look more favorably” at the latter DDA. Human nature just does not work that way. People aren’t quite that stupid. Not even your “moderators.”

    “This means that there is an unstated incentive to get more cases onto the board by pursuing prosecutions rather than dropping charges.”

    In fact, that conclusion doesn’t even follow from your very shaky premise. What it would do, if your premise were right, is that it would give DDAs an incentive to get as many plea bargains as possible. When a case is plead out, it moves quickly. If it goes to trial, it takes much more time. So if all a DDA wanted was to handle as many cases as possible, he would have a great incentive to never go to trial.

    “Second, those Deputy District Attorneys with more convictions will look more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    I assume you mean “be looked upon more favorably.” And if so, you are repeating yourself, without establishing your facts or even following a logical conclusion.

    “This means again that there is an unstated incentive to obtain more prosecutions. Again this means that there is a disincentive to drop the charges or the case when it is clear like the cases mentioned above that there is a weak case or no strong compelling public interest to pursue charges.”

    Again, that is completely wrong. You are ignoring the fact that it takes a lot of time to pursue cases that will not result in convictions. If a DA resolves those weak cases quickly, he can make a much bigger name for himself by getting convictions in more promising cases. The DA who pursues the weak cases will be tied up endlessly with those, and thus will get his name on the board much less than his colleagues.

    “The implication of this is that those Deputy District Attorneys who pursue more cases and obtain more convictions will be promoted, awarded, acknowledged and that those with fewer will not.”

    Yes, that is the implication. And because it makes so little logical sense, it almost certainly is a misreading of what is going on in the DA’s office.

    “Thus an unstated quota system emerges from this practice.”

    Whether stated or not, all DA offices have quota systems. They are hired to get convictions. And if a DDA cannot do that, he will not last.

    However, if he pursued your assigned strategy, to treat weak or difficult cases equally with strong ones, he would hamper his conviction quota, and thus not succeed.

    “Why is this a bad idea? Statistics can be a measure of good performance on the part of prosecutors, however, they can always indicate dogmatism that serves neither the defendant nor the public interest.”

    I tend to agree with that. However, because our justice system is antagonistic — the people on one side, the defense on the other — it is human nature that this will accrue. I don’t know of a better way to prosecute crimes, but maybe that is what you should be addressing, whether or not the system should be one of antagonism.

  27. Rich Rifkin

    “One of the most frequent complaints about the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office under former District Attorney David Henderson had been the intractability of their prosecutions. Far too many minor cases were pursued well beyond the point that they should have.”

    Exactly who was lodging theses complaints?

    “The District Attorney’s office often failed to adequately use discretion in which cases to prosecute. And they would be extremely reticent to drop even cases that they either could not win or should not pursue.”

    You would be right in your allegation if it is the case that the Yolo DA’s office under Henderson had an unusually low percentage of convictions in cases which it brought to trial. Do you have objective numbers to prove your charge?

    “We can see those practices at work in three fairly high profile cases–the Buzayan case which was dismissed by a Judge, the Khalid Berney case which was dismissed after a judge forced the prosecutors to reintroduce their evidence, and the Bernita Toney case where the Jury acquitted the defendant.”

    Those are fairly subjective cases. I’m not saying that you are wrong in all three of those. However, anyone can pick out a few cases out of the thousands that went before the DA when Henderson was in charge. It seems to me that your allegation is insubstantial unless you can show what I said above — that the Yolo DA failed in court disproportionately. You very well may be right — I just don’t know the numbers.

    “A more reasonable prosecutor’s office would not have pursued convictions in this questionable cases to begin with.”

    Again, totally subjective.

    “In two of the cases, they were pursued because of orders from the command and leadership structure to the Deputy District Attorney that they must obtain a conviction and under no condition could they drop the charges.”

    Where is your evidence for this allegation? Where are those “orders?”

    “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    Is this unique to Yolo County? I would imagine that most District Attorneys do something similar.

    “The implication is that those with the most prosecutions are doing the best job.”

    Not necessarily. It means they are pursuing the most cases. If those largely turn out to be acquittals, no one would accuse the DDA of “doing the best job.”

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that the DA’s judge each other by their ability to win convictions (or good pleas). They are not morons who get excited because their name goes up on a board.

    “In some ways that sounds like a good incentive. However, the logical conclusion of this policy is the creation of a quota system.”

    Because it is human nature to want to “win,” the logical conclusion is that the only quota that individual DDA’s would like to see next to their names is the number of convictions or guilty pleas.

    “This leads to an inevitable continuation if not exacerbation of the current problems in the system.”

    Though you have claimed that the DA’s office brings a disproportionate number of cases which cannot win in court, you have not proved that point. As such, it’s a stretch to say that the management practice “exacerbates” this problem, when you have yet to objectively demonstrate the problem.

    “First, those Deputy District Attorneys with many cases will be looked at more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    David, don’t ignore human nature. If one DDA is working on, for example, a high profile murder case that will take a year to conclude, and another is mowing over 50 traffic violations, no one will “look more favorably” at the latter DDA. Human nature just does not work that way. People aren’t quite that stupid. Not even your “moderators.”

    “This means that there is an unstated incentive to get more cases onto the board by pursuing prosecutions rather than dropping charges.”

    In fact, that conclusion doesn’t even follow from your very shaky premise. What it would do, if your premise were right, is that it would give DDAs an incentive to get as many plea bargains as possible. When a case is plead out, it moves quickly. If it goes to trial, it takes much more time. So if all a DDA wanted was to handle as many cases as possible, he would have a great incentive to never go to trial.

    “Second, those Deputy District Attorneys with more convictions will look more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    I assume you mean “be looked upon more favorably.” And if so, you are repeating yourself, without establishing your facts or even following a logical conclusion.

    “This means again that there is an unstated incentive to obtain more prosecutions. Again this means that there is a disincentive to drop the charges or the case when it is clear like the cases mentioned above that there is a weak case or no strong compelling public interest to pursue charges.”

    Again, that is completely wrong. You are ignoring the fact that it takes a lot of time to pursue cases that will not result in convictions. If a DA resolves those weak cases quickly, he can make a much bigger name for himself by getting convictions in more promising cases. The DA who pursues the weak cases will be tied up endlessly with those, and thus will get his name on the board much less than his colleagues.

    “The implication of this is that those Deputy District Attorneys who pursue more cases and obtain more convictions will be promoted, awarded, acknowledged and that those with fewer will not.”

    Yes, that is the implication. And because it makes so little logical sense, it almost certainly is a misreading of what is going on in the DA’s office.

    “Thus an unstated quota system emerges from this practice.”

    Whether stated or not, all DA offices have quota systems. They are hired to get convictions. And if a DDA cannot do that, he will not last.

    However, if he pursued your assigned strategy, to treat weak or difficult cases equally with strong ones, he would hamper his conviction quota, and thus not succeed.

    “Why is this a bad idea? Statistics can be a measure of good performance on the part of prosecutors, however, they can always indicate dogmatism that serves neither the defendant nor the public interest.”

    I tend to agree with that. However, because our justice system is antagonistic — the people on one side, the defense on the other — it is human nature that this will accrue. I don’t know of a better way to prosecute crimes, but maybe that is what you should be addressing, whether or not the system should be one of antagonism.

  28. Rich Rifkin

    “One of the most frequent complaints about the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office under former District Attorney David Henderson had been the intractability of their prosecutions. Far too many minor cases were pursued well beyond the point that they should have.”

    Exactly who was lodging theses complaints?

    “The District Attorney’s office often failed to adequately use discretion in which cases to prosecute. And they would be extremely reticent to drop even cases that they either could not win or should not pursue.”

    You would be right in your allegation if it is the case that the Yolo DA’s office under Henderson had an unusually low percentage of convictions in cases which it brought to trial. Do you have objective numbers to prove your charge?

    “We can see those practices at work in three fairly high profile cases–the Buzayan case which was dismissed by a Judge, the Khalid Berney case which was dismissed after a judge forced the prosecutors to reintroduce their evidence, and the Bernita Toney case where the Jury acquitted the defendant.”

    Those are fairly subjective cases. I’m not saying that you are wrong in all three of those. However, anyone can pick out a few cases out of the thousands that went before the DA when Henderson was in charge. It seems to me that your allegation is insubstantial unless you can show what I said above — that the Yolo DA failed in court disproportionately. You very well may be right — I just don’t know the numbers.

    “A more reasonable prosecutor’s office would not have pursued convictions in this questionable cases to begin with.”

    Again, totally subjective.

    “In two of the cases, they were pursued because of orders from the command and leadership structure to the Deputy District Attorney that they must obtain a conviction and under no condition could they drop the charges.”

    Where is your evidence for this allegation? Where are those “orders?”

    “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    Is this unique to Yolo County? I would imagine that most District Attorneys do something similar.

    “The implication is that those with the most prosecutions are doing the best job.”

    Not necessarily. It means they are pursuing the most cases. If those largely turn out to be acquittals, no one would accuse the DDA of “doing the best job.”

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that the DA’s judge each other by their ability to win convictions (or good pleas). They are not morons who get excited because their name goes up on a board.

    “In some ways that sounds like a good incentive. However, the logical conclusion of this policy is the creation of a quota system.”

    Because it is human nature to want to “win,” the logical conclusion is that the only quota that individual DDA’s would like to see next to their names is the number of convictions or guilty pleas.

    “This leads to an inevitable continuation if not exacerbation of the current problems in the system.”

    Though you have claimed that the DA’s office brings a disproportionate number of cases which cannot win in court, you have not proved that point. As such, it’s a stretch to say that the management practice “exacerbates” this problem, when you have yet to objectively demonstrate the problem.

    “First, those Deputy District Attorneys with many cases will be looked at more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    David, don’t ignore human nature. If one DDA is working on, for example, a high profile murder case that will take a year to conclude, and another is mowing over 50 traffic violations, no one will “look more favorably” at the latter DDA. Human nature just does not work that way. People aren’t quite that stupid. Not even your “moderators.”

    “This means that there is an unstated incentive to get more cases onto the board by pursuing prosecutions rather than dropping charges.”

    In fact, that conclusion doesn’t even follow from your very shaky premise. What it would do, if your premise were right, is that it would give DDAs an incentive to get as many plea bargains as possible. When a case is plead out, it moves quickly. If it goes to trial, it takes much more time. So if all a DDA wanted was to handle as many cases as possible, he would have a great incentive to never go to trial.

    “Second, those Deputy District Attorneys with more convictions will look more favorably than those with fewer cases.”

    I assume you mean “be looked upon more favorably.” And if so, you are repeating yourself, without establishing your facts or even following a logical conclusion.

    “This means again that there is an unstated incentive to obtain more prosecutions. Again this means that there is a disincentive to drop the charges or the case when it is clear like the cases mentioned above that there is a weak case or no strong compelling public interest to pursue charges.”

    Again, that is completely wrong. You are ignoring the fact that it takes a lot of time to pursue cases that will not result in convictions. If a DA resolves those weak cases quickly, he can make a much bigger name for himself by getting convictions in more promising cases. The DA who pursues the weak cases will be tied up endlessly with those, and thus will get his name on the board much less than his colleagues.

    “The implication of this is that those Deputy District Attorneys who pursue more cases and obtain more convictions will be promoted, awarded, acknowledged and that those with fewer will not.”

    Yes, that is the implication. And because it makes so little logical sense, it almost certainly is a misreading of what is going on in the DA’s office.

    “Thus an unstated quota system emerges from this practice.”

    Whether stated or not, all DA offices have quota systems. They are hired to get convictions. And if a DDA cannot do that, he will not last.

    However, if he pursued your assigned strategy, to treat weak or difficult cases equally with strong ones, he would hamper his conviction quota, and thus not succeed.

    “Why is this a bad idea? Statistics can be a measure of good performance on the part of prosecutors, however, they can always indicate dogmatism that serves neither the defendant nor the public interest.”

    I tend to agree with that. However, because our justice system is antagonistic — the people on one side, the defense on the other — it is human nature that this will accrue. I don’t know of a better way to prosecute crimes, but maybe that is what you should be addressing, whether or not the system should be one of antagonism.

  29. blog administrator

    An additional cause for comment deletion has been added. Authors of comments on this blog shall be referred to in the manner they themselves have selected.

  30. blog administrator

    An additional cause for comment deletion has been added. Authors of comments on this blog shall be referred to in the manner they themselves have selected.

  31. blog administrator

    An additional cause for comment deletion has been added. Authors of comments on this blog shall be referred to in the manner they themselves have selected.

  32. blog administrator

    An additional cause for comment deletion has been added. Authors of comments on this blog shall be referred to in the manner they themselves have selected.

  33. Anonymous

    Come on, a way of keeping track of what goes on in the office is not automatically about quotas. Criticize the policy if it is shown to be continued but don’t assume these things are related.

  34. Anonymous

    Come on, a way of keeping track of what goes on in the office is not automatically about quotas. Criticize the policy if it is shown to be continued but don’t assume these things are related.

  35. Anonymous

    Come on, a way of keeping track of what goes on in the office is not automatically about quotas. Criticize the policy if it is shown to be continued but don’t assume these things are related.

  36. Anonymous

    Come on, a way of keeping track of what goes on in the office is not automatically about quotas. Criticize the policy if it is shown to be continued but don’t assume these things are related.

  37. Rich Rifkin

    Before this comment is deleted, you should know that the moderator of this blog is now censoring me, by removing my comments that disagree with his point of view.

  38. Rich Rifkin

    Before this comment is deleted, you should know that the moderator of this blog is now censoring me, by removing my comments that disagree with his point of view.

  39. Rich Rifkin

    Before this comment is deleted, you should know that the moderator of this blog is now censoring me, by removing my comments that disagree with his point of view.

  40. Rich Rifkin

    Before this comment is deleted, you should know that the moderator of this blog is now censoring me, by removing my comments that disagree with his point of view.

  41. Rich Rifkin

    This is what David Greenwald sent to me (and presumably others).

    Dear Readers:

    When I created this blog, one of the reasons I allowed people to choose an anonymous name was to allow conversation about the issues of the day where people felt free to contribute without fear of intimidation or retribution. Anonymity is a respected principal on the People’s Vanguard of Davis. Any attempt in the future to “out” an otherwise anonymous individual, will be construed as an attempt to tamper and interfere with the operations of this blog. Moreover, from this point forward, any commenter who wishes to post their comments in anonymity shall have their right to do so. Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion of that comment by either myself, Davisite or The Law. Any questions should be directed toward me.

    Sincerely,

    David Greenwald
    Editor and Founder
    People’s Vanguard of Davis
    (530) 400-2512

    So why did Greenwald change the rules? Because his moderator likes to defame people whom he disagrees with. His moderator can attack them by name, but now no one is allowed to use the moderator’s real name.

    This is a dangerous and bad precedent.

  42. Rich Rifkin

    This is what David Greenwald sent to me (and presumably others).

    Dear Readers:

    When I created this blog, one of the reasons I allowed people to choose an anonymous name was to allow conversation about the issues of the day where people felt free to contribute without fear of intimidation or retribution. Anonymity is a respected principal on the People’s Vanguard of Davis. Any attempt in the future to “out” an otherwise anonymous individual, will be construed as an attempt to tamper and interfere with the operations of this blog. Moreover, from this point forward, any commenter who wishes to post their comments in anonymity shall have their right to do so. Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion of that comment by either myself, Davisite or The Law. Any questions should be directed toward me.

    Sincerely,

    David Greenwald
    Editor and Founder
    People’s Vanguard of Davis
    (530) 400-2512

    So why did Greenwald change the rules? Because his moderator likes to defame people whom he disagrees with. His moderator can attack them by name, but now no one is allowed to use the moderator’s real name.

    This is a dangerous and bad precedent.

  43. Rich Rifkin

    This is what David Greenwald sent to me (and presumably others).

    Dear Readers:

    When I created this blog, one of the reasons I allowed people to choose an anonymous name was to allow conversation about the issues of the day where people felt free to contribute without fear of intimidation or retribution. Anonymity is a respected principal on the People’s Vanguard of Davis. Any attempt in the future to “out” an otherwise anonymous individual, will be construed as an attempt to tamper and interfere with the operations of this blog. Moreover, from this point forward, any commenter who wishes to post their comments in anonymity shall have their right to do so. Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion of that comment by either myself, Davisite or The Law. Any questions should be directed toward me.

    Sincerely,

    David Greenwald
    Editor and Founder
    People’s Vanguard of Davis
    (530) 400-2512

    So why did Greenwald change the rules? Because his moderator likes to defame people whom he disagrees with. His moderator can attack them by name, but now no one is allowed to use the moderator’s real name.

    This is a dangerous and bad precedent.

  44. Rich Rifkin

    This is what David Greenwald sent to me (and presumably others).

    Dear Readers:

    When I created this blog, one of the reasons I allowed people to choose an anonymous name was to allow conversation about the issues of the day where people felt free to contribute without fear of intimidation or retribution. Anonymity is a respected principal on the People’s Vanguard of Davis. Any attempt in the future to “out” an otherwise anonymous individual, will be construed as an attempt to tamper and interfere with the operations of this blog. Moreover, from this point forward, any commenter who wishes to post their comments in anonymity shall have their right to do so. Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion of that comment by either myself, Davisite or The Law. Any questions should be directed toward me.

    Sincerely,

    David Greenwald
    Editor and Founder
    People’s Vanguard of Davis
    (530) 400-2512

    So why did Greenwald change the rules? Because his moderator likes to defame people whom he disagrees with. His moderator can attack them by name, but now no one is allowed to use the moderator’s real name.

    This is a dangerous and bad precedent.

  45. Anonymous

    The bulletin board might be a way to detect stalled cases or where one attorney has too many cases at critical points. The board might also be abused if something like diversion or prosecutor request to dismiss is not included in the possible (positive) outcomes. If aquittal (negative) and conviction (positive) is the only way cases are being tracked, then the problems with the DA’s office will continue.

    Maybe there should be another board in the Public Defenders office where cases are kept track of in the same way, with a bonus system based on acquittals. Attorneys would then fight over who gets the easy, ridiculous cases that the DA’s office brings forward to help increase their acquittal rate and increase their income. Or they could reward high producing defenders with the better office, a legal secretary assigned to just them, the prime parking space, trips to exotic locations for “conferences,” etc.

    I’m kidding here,…….but then am I?

  46. Anonymous

    The bulletin board might be a way to detect stalled cases or where one attorney has too many cases at critical points. The board might also be abused if something like diversion or prosecutor request to dismiss is not included in the possible (positive) outcomes. If aquittal (negative) and conviction (positive) is the only way cases are being tracked, then the problems with the DA’s office will continue.

    Maybe there should be another board in the Public Defenders office where cases are kept track of in the same way, with a bonus system based on acquittals. Attorneys would then fight over who gets the easy, ridiculous cases that the DA’s office brings forward to help increase their acquittal rate and increase their income. Or they could reward high producing defenders with the better office, a legal secretary assigned to just them, the prime parking space, trips to exotic locations for “conferences,” etc.

    I’m kidding here,…….but then am I?

  47. Anonymous

    The bulletin board might be a way to detect stalled cases or where one attorney has too many cases at critical points. The board might also be abused if something like diversion or prosecutor request to dismiss is not included in the possible (positive) outcomes. If aquittal (negative) and conviction (positive) is the only way cases are being tracked, then the problems with the DA’s office will continue.

    Maybe there should be another board in the Public Defenders office where cases are kept track of in the same way, with a bonus system based on acquittals. Attorneys would then fight over who gets the easy, ridiculous cases that the DA’s office brings forward to help increase their acquittal rate and increase their income. Or they could reward high producing defenders with the better office, a legal secretary assigned to just them, the prime parking space, trips to exotic locations for “conferences,” etc.

    I’m kidding here,…….but then am I?

  48. Anonymous

    The bulletin board might be a way to detect stalled cases or where one attorney has too many cases at critical points. The board might also be abused if something like diversion or prosecutor request to dismiss is not included in the possible (positive) outcomes. If aquittal (negative) and conviction (positive) is the only way cases are being tracked, then the problems with the DA’s office will continue.

    Maybe there should be another board in the Public Defenders office where cases are kept track of in the same way, with a bonus system based on acquittals. Attorneys would then fight over who gets the easy, ridiculous cases that the DA’s office brings forward to help increase their acquittal rate and increase their income. Or they could reward high producing defenders with the better office, a legal secretary assigned to just them, the prime parking space, trips to exotic locations for “conferences,” etc.

    I’m kidding here,…….but then am I?

  49. Doug Paul Davis

    Anonymous: My primary problem with any sort of system is that if an individual is actually not guilty or in the case of Mr Berny, charged excessively for a minor crime, why should it reflect negatively on a prosecutor who either drops the case or loses a case that they should lose?

  50. Doug Paul Davis

    Anonymous: My primary problem with any sort of system is that if an individual is actually not guilty or in the case of Mr Berny, charged excessively for a minor crime, why should it reflect negatively on a prosecutor who either drops the case or loses a case that they should lose?

  51. Doug Paul Davis

    Anonymous: My primary problem with any sort of system is that if an individual is actually not guilty or in the case of Mr Berny, charged excessively for a minor crime, why should it reflect negatively on a prosecutor who either drops the case or loses a case that they should lose?

  52. Doug Paul Davis

    Anonymous: My primary problem with any sort of system is that if an individual is actually not guilty or in the case of Mr Berny, charged excessively for a minor crime, why should it reflect negatively on a prosecutor who either drops the case or loses a case that they should lose?

  53. Richard

    and, then, there’s another bulletin board for DAs and police officers who leak confidential juvenile information to the Davis Enterprise

    –Richard Estes

  54. Richard

    and, then, there’s another bulletin board for DAs and police officers who leak confidential juvenile information to the Davis Enterprise

    –Richard Estes

  55. Richard

    and, then, there’s another bulletin board for DAs and police officers who leak confidential juvenile information to the Davis Enterprise

    –Richard Estes

  56. Richard

    and, then, there’s another bulletin board for DAs and police officers who leak confidential juvenile information to the Davis Enterprise

    –Richard Estes

  57. Anonymous

    “………Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion…”

    ASSUMED name of the anonymous poster, to be more accurate.

  58. Anonymous

    “………Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion…”

    ASSUMED name of the anonymous poster, to be more accurate.

  59. Anonymous

    “………Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion…”

    ASSUMED name of the anonymous poster, to be more accurate.

  60. Anonymous

    “………Any comment that uses the name of an anonymous poster will result in an immediate deletion…”

    ASSUMED name of the anonymous poster, to be more accurate.

  61. Anonymous

    Doug, I enjoy reading your blog. On this one I have to chime in. If the purpose or consquence in creating this Bulletin Board is to establish a quota system or track all the prosecutions in the office, then there must be a very large wall to hang a very large board. I’m not sure how many DDA’s there are in the office, nor am I sure how many cases they are handling, but I imagine that there isn’t a Bulletin Board around that is large enough to do an effective job of what you say the board is meant to do. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

  62. Anonymous

    Doug, I enjoy reading your blog. On this one I have to chime in. If the purpose or consquence in creating this Bulletin Board is to establish a quota system or track all the prosecutions in the office, then there must be a very large wall to hang a very large board. I’m not sure how many DDA’s there are in the office, nor am I sure how many cases they are handling, but I imagine that there isn’t a Bulletin Board around that is large enough to do an effective job of what you say the board is meant to do. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

  63. Anonymous

    Doug, I enjoy reading your blog. On this one I have to chime in. If the purpose or consquence in creating this Bulletin Board is to establish a quota system or track all the prosecutions in the office, then there must be a very large wall to hang a very large board. I’m not sure how many DDA’s there are in the office, nor am I sure how many cases they are handling, but I imagine that there isn’t a Bulletin Board around that is large enough to do an effective job of what you say the board is meant to do. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

  64. Anonymous

    Doug, I enjoy reading your blog. On this one I have to chime in. If the purpose or consquence in creating this Bulletin Board is to establish a quota system or track all the prosecutions in the office, then there must be a very large wall to hang a very large board. I’m not sure how many DDA’s there are in the office, nor am I sure how many cases they are handling, but I imagine that there isn’t a Bulletin Board around that is large enough to do an effective job of what you say the board is meant to do. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

  65. Anonymous

    The way the bulletin board sounds, it tracks the cases in trial – who’s in, who’s out, and whether it is a “win” or a “loss”. It couldn’t fit all the cases in the whole office -that’d be thousands.

    Sounds like competition between the lawyers for who goes to trial the most and who wins in trial. This makes taking the quick and easy cases to trial the most likely to get high offers. It seems to be a quota system. Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.

    Expect more frequent jury duty!

  66. Anonymous

    The way the bulletin board sounds, it tracks the cases in trial – who’s in, who’s out, and whether it is a “win” or a “loss”. It couldn’t fit all the cases in the whole office -that’d be thousands.

    Sounds like competition between the lawyers for who goes to trial the most and who wins in trial. This makes taking the quick and easy cases to trial the most likely to get high offers. It seems to be a quota system. Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.

    Expect more frequent jury duty!

  67. Anonymous

    The way the bulletin board sounds, it tracks the cases in trial – who’s in, who’s out, and whether it is a “win” or a “loss”. It couldn’t fit all the cases in the whole office -that’d be thousands.

    Sounds like competition between the lawyers for who goes to trial the most and who wins in trial. This makes taking the quick and easy cases to trial the most likely to get high offers. It seems to be a quota system. Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.

    Expect more frequent jury duty!

  68. Anonymous

    The way the bulletin board sounds, it tracks the cases in trial – who’s in, who’s out, and whether it is a “win” or a “loss”. It couldn’t fit all the cases in the whole office -that’d be thousands.

    Sounds like competition between the lawyers for who goes to trial the most and who wins in trial. This makes taking the quick and easy cases to trial the most likely to get high offers. It seems to be a quota system. Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.

    Expect more frequent jury duty!

  69. Rich Rifkin

    “Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.”

    This is the exact opposite conclusion from what David Greenwald’s description of the “bulletin board” would suggest.

    David wrote: “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    If David’s description is correct, it suggests clearly that prosecutor’s would be rewarded not for taking every case to trial, but rather by resolving cases quickly, including pleading them out whenever possible.

  70. Rich Rifkin

    “Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.”

    This is the exact opposite conclusion from what David Greenwald’s description of the “bulletin board” would suggest.

    David wrote: “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    If David’s description is correct, it suggests clearly that prosecutor’s would be rewarded not for taking every case to trial, but rather by resolving cases quickly, including pleading them out whenever possible.

  71. Rich Rifkin

    “Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.”

    This is the exact opposite conclusion from what David Greenwald’s description of the “bulletin board” would suggest.

    David wrote: “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    If David’s description is correct, it suggests clearly that prosecutor’s would be rewarded not for taking every case to trial, but rather by resolving cases quickly, including pleading them out whenever possible.

  72. Rich Rifkin

    “Woe to the Deputy District Attorneys who make reasonable offers to move thier cases along by plea bargains. They will have to take those to trial now.”

    This is the exact opposite conclusion from what David Greenwald’s description of the “bulletin board” would suggest.

    David wrote: “Deputy District Attorney’s get their names placed on the board as the case enters the system and they get their case tracked to an inevitable acquittal or prosecution.”

    If David’s description is correct, it suggests clearly that prosecutor’s would be rewarded not for taking every case to trial, but rather by resolving cases quickly, including pleading them out whenever possible.

  73. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I feel like I’m looking at a puzzle and each little piece is a small piece of information that helps complete a larger picture.

    So here’s how I see it right now, and frankly that could change with further and more complete information.

    When they arrested Halema, and this is a pattern because I’ve now spoken to probably 20 people with identical stories, they gave her the option of diversion. Diversion means that they take a guilty plea and they go through a series of steps to be processed. That gives the prosecutor a quick conviction and most people take it because they lack the resources to fight. The ones that we hear about are the ones where the individual decides that they are innocent and they wish to contest it–Buzayan, Bernita Toney, etc. That’s clearly part of this process.

    I don’t know exactly how that fits in with the new bulletin board concept. But that would be something to explore.

  74. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I feel like I’m looking at a puzzle and each little piece is a small piece of information that helps complete a larger picture.

    So here’s how I see it right now, and frankly that could change with further and more complete information.

    When they arrested Halema, and this is a pattern because I’ve now spoken to probably 20 people with identical stories, they gave her the option of diversion. Diversion means that they take a guilty plea and they go through a series of steps to be processed. That gives the prosecutor a quick conviction and most people take it because they lack the resources to fight. The ones that we hear about are the ones where the individual decides that they are innocent and they wish to contest it–Buzayan, Bernita Toney, etc. That’s clearly part of this process.

    I don’t know exactly how that fits in with the new bulletin board concept. But that would be something to explore.

  75. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I feel like I’m looking at a puzzle and each little piece is a small piece of information that helps complete a larger picture.

    So here’s how I see it right now, and frankly that could change with further and more complete information.

    When they arrested Halema, and this is a pattern because I’ve now spoken to probably 20 people with identical stories, they gave her the option of diversion. Diversion means that they take a guilty plea and they go through a series of steps to be processed. That gives the prosecutor a quick conviction and most people take it because they lack the resources to fight. The ones that we hear about are the ones where the individual decides that they are innocent and they wish to contest it–Buzayan, Bernita Toney, etc. That’s clearly part of this process.

    I don’t know exactly how that fits in with the new bulletin board concept. But that would be something to explore.

  76. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I feel like I’m looking at a puzzle and each little piece is a small piece of information that helps complete a larger picture.

    So here’s how I see it right now, and frankly that could change with further and more complete information.

    When they arrested Halema, and this is a pattern because I’ve now spoken to probably 20 people with identical stories, they gave her the option of diversion. Diversion means that they take a guilty plea and they go through a series of steps to be processed. That gives the prosecutor a quick conviction and most people take it because they lack the resources to fight. The ones that we hear about are the ones where the individual decides that they are innocent and they wish to contest it–Buzayan, Bernita Toney, etc. That’s clearly part of this process.

    I don’t know exactly how that fits in with the new bulletin board concept. But that would be something to explore.

  77. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    What you describe here, diversion, fits in with the idea that the DA’s office is trying to move cases along quickly, rather than taking every case to trial. Now, it may also be true that the Yolo DA’s office lacks reasonable discretion, and because of that lack of discretion, they are either a) pushing people without resources into accepting pleas or other lesser “solutions” such as a diversion program or b) taking too many cases to trial.

    The key question I would suppose, then, is does the DA’s office lack proper discretion? In other words, compared to most DA’s in California, is the Yolo DA pursuing convictions or pleas in cases where either the evidence is weak or the crime itself is insignificant or not a priority to anyone.

    Based on some facts that you have reported on your blog (and others that I have read in The Enterprise and in The Bee), it seems like that may be the case. I don’t know that it is the case, but it seems provable one way or the other. (I would compare the outcomes — go to trial, plea bargain, or drop charges — of similar types of arrests; and if Yolo County was disproportionately low in the third category, and there was not otherwise a good explanation for that, that would suggest that our DA’s office lacks discretion.)

    That said, I don’t see how the “bulletin board” plays into this discretion question, even if the lack of discretion is demonstrably true. As I say above, I think the bulletin board likely is just a motivator for DDAs to move as many cases through the system as quickly as possible. Insofar as those DDAs can get people into diversion or get pleas or get quick convictions, they will be rewarded. Insofar as DDAs get stuck in long trials, particularly for low-priority cases, they will be punished.

  78. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    What you describe here, diversion, fits in with the idea that the DA’s office is trying to move cases along quickly, rather than taking every case to trial. Now, it may also be true that the Yolo DA’s office lacks reasonable discretion, and because of that lack of discretion, they are either a) pushing people without resources into accepting pleas or other lesser “solutions” such as a diversion program or b) taking too many cases to trial.

    The key question I would suppose, then, is does the DA’s office lack proper discretion? In other words, compared to most DA’s in California, is the Yolo DA pursuing convictions or pleas in cases where either the evidence is weak or the crime itself is insignificant or not a priority to anyone.

    Based on some facts that you have reported on your blog (and others that I have read in The Enterprise and in The Bee), it seems like that may be the case. I don’t know that it is the case, but it seems provable one way or the other. (I would compare the outcomes — go to trial, plea bargain, or drop charges — of similar types of arrests; and if Yolo County was disproportionately low in the third category, and there was not otherwise a good explanation for that, that would suggest that our DA’s office lacks discretion.)

    That said, I don’t see how the “bulletin board” plays into this discretion question, even if the lack of discretion is demonstrably true. As I say above, I think the bulletin board likely is just a motivator for DDAs to move as many cases through the system as quickly as possible. Insofar as those DDAs can get people into diversion or get pleas or get quick convictions, they will be rewarded. Insofar as DDAs get stuck in long trials, particularly for low-priority cases, they will be punished.

  79. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    What you describe here, diversion, fits in with the idea that the DA’s office is trying to move cases along quickly, rather than taking every case to trial. Now, it may also be true that the Yolo DA’s office lacks reasonable discretion, and because of that lack of discretion, they are either a) pushing people without resources into accepting pleas or other lesser “solutions” such as a diversion program or b) taking too many cases to trial.

    The key question I would suppose, then, is does the DA’s office lack proper discretion? In other words, compared to most DA’s in California, is the Yolo DA pursuing convictions or pleas in cases where either the evidence is weak or the crime itself is insignificant or not a priority to anyone.

    Based on some facts that you have reported on your blog (and others that I have read in The Enterprise and in The Bee), it seems like that may be the case. I don’t know that it is the case, but it seems provable one way or the other. (I would compare the outcomes — go to trial, plea bargain, or drop charges — of similar types of arrests; and if Yolo County was disproportionately low in the third category, and there was not otherwise a good explanation for that, that would suggest that our DA’s office lacks discretion.)

    That said, I don’t see how the “bulletin board” plays into this discretion question, even if the lack of discretion is demonstrably true. As I say above, I think the bulletin board likely is just a motivator for DDAs to move as many cases through the system as quickly as possible. Insofar as those DDAs can get people into diversion or get pleas or get quick convictions, they will be rewarded. Insofar as DDAs get stuck in long trials, particularly for low-priority cases, they will be punished.

  80. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    What you describe here, diversion, fits in with the idea that the DA’s office is trying to move cases along quickly, rather than taking every case to trial. Now, it may also be true that the Yolo DA’s office lacks reasonable discretion, and because of that lack of discretion, they are either a) pushing people without resources into accepting pleas or other lesser “solutions” such as a diversion program or b) taking too many cases to trial.

    The key question I would suppose, then, is does the DA’s office lack proper discretion? In other words, compared to most DA’s in California, is the Yolo DA pursuing convictions or pleas in cases where either the evidence is weak or the crime itself is insignificant or not a priority to anyone.

    Based on some facts that you have reported on your blog (and others that I have read in The Enterprise and in The Bee), it seems like that may be the case. I don’t know that it is the case, but it seems provable one way or the other. (I would compare the outcomes — go to trial, plea bargain, or drop charges — of similar types of arrests; and if Yolo County was disproportionately low in the third category, and there was not otherwise a good explanation for that, that would suggest that our DA’s office lacks discretion.)

    That said, I don’t see how the “bulletin board” plays into this discretion question, even if the lack of discretion is demonstrably true. As I say above, I think the bulletin board likely is just a motivator for DDAs to move as many cases through the system as quickly as possible. Insofar as those DDAs can get people into diversion or get pleas or get quick convictions, they will be rewarded. Insofar as DDAs get stuck in long trials, particularly for low-priority cases, they will be punished.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for