Monday Morning Thoughts: What Went Wrong in the Criminal Prosecution of Eric Pape

Last week the Vanguard broke the tragic news about the death of Eric Pape.  The most tragic aspect of the death of Mr. Pape is not only was it avoidable, it was foreseeable.  While the DA’s race has become a recent focus of many in the community, there is blame to go around from the handling of it by hospital staff to the handling of the case by the district attorney’s office.

Last week, the Vanguard ran this story and on Sunday it was followed up by the Enterprise.  It gives us insight to the thinking of the DA’s office.

Chief Deputy DA Jonathan Raven told the paper: “He wishes Eric’s case had been referred for a mental health court assessment early on in the proceedings.

“Nothing in my 23 years as a prosecutor has weighed more on me then the tragic loss of Eric Pape,” Mr. Raven said. “I have been going over and over in my head what the DA’s office and the whole criminal justice system could have done differently with this very challenging case.”

That’s a good start to acknowledge errors were made.  Still, as Public Defender Tracie Olson points out, “the purpose of mental health court is to rehabilitate mentally ill individuals who have committed crimes — which her office believes didn’t apply in this situation.

“We were litigating Eric’s case because we did not believe a crime had been committed, much less a felony,” Ms. Olson said.

Our view is this – the case was mishandled from the start.

First, the hospital deserves a huge amount of blame here.  They brought in a guy who had just attempted to commit suicide, suffered serious injuries, and was clearly having some sort of anxiety attack.  What do they do?  They have a nurse, untrained in how to respond to mental illness, attempt to restrain him and, instead of calming things down, he initiates physical contact.

The patient goes from lying on the bed to being pushed up against the wall; in the meantime, the nurse suffers an injury that appears to have been the result of a previous injury.

The question is whether this was criminal conduct let alone felony conduct.

Mr. Raven argued that the serious injuries stemming from the assault is “felony conduct” but the public defender believes that the conduct, stemming from a mental illness, should not be prosecuted in the first place.

She told the paper, “If an individual strikes someone in the midst of a seizure, that individual would never be prosecuted.  We’ve got to start viewing mental illness for what it is — a health condition that no one voluntarily signs up for.”

We also have to look at the totality of the circumstances: suicide attempt, 5150, no prior criminal history, college student – this is not someone who simply lost their temper and assaulted someone, this was someone in the throes of a mental health episode whose situation was mishandled and perhaps escalated by hospital staff.

The system also failed Mr. Pape.  His deputy public defender had sought to have Judge Dan Maguire reduce the charges to a misdemeanor, but the prosecution had apparently not completed their investigation of Mr. Pape – they didn’t even know why he was in the hospital to begin with.

Judge Maguire stated: “The real question for the Court with regard to 17(b) is what’s going on with Mr. Pape and why is (he) here?  Is there a 5150?  If so, what’s it all about? …  I don’t have any of that information, so I can’t reduce to a misdemeanor without knowing the story respecting Mr. Pape.”

The timeline is important here.  The incident happened in mid-January.  He was arrested in mid-April.  The preliminary hearing took place June 14 – so less than two months from the arrest.  The defense was still attempting to get medical records at the time that the preliminary hearing took place and, clearly, the prosecution did not even know that Mr. Pape was in custody on a Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150.

Neither did the officers know.  The responding officer, Mariano Lopez of the Davis Police Department, testified that the victim did not indicate what the defendant had been doing there at the emergency room that day.  He said, “Not in detail.”

So no one apparently knew why Mr. Pape was at Sutter Davis – especially not the police and not the prosecution.

We can debate whether this should have been charged conduct given the circumstances, we can debate how this should have been handled, but I think Mr. Raven knows this wasn’t handled the appropriate way.  Unfortunately, we see these kinds of cases all the time.

What people need to understand is that the Eric Pape case – we have been covering the courts for over eight years now and we see these kinds of cases all the time.  Usually they don’t end in suicide, obviously, but they are cases that are overcharged or perhaps criminalized unnecessarily and could be better handled in other ways.

This one was a mental health case.   There is some debate over whether it should have gone to mental health court or whether it should have been charged at all.  But prosecuting this case in a traditional way makes little sense.  There is no mens rea, no intention or knowledge of wrongdoing here.  There is no criminal history.

We have heard time and time again the touting of the Neighborhood Court program, but part of my criticism of that program is it takes cases that no one else would ever prosecute and ends up putting them in the system.  But these are primarily victimless crimes.  The district attorney’s office has never expanded to a whole host of other cases that don’t need to be in the court system.

To me, these kinds of cases are endemic to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.  They make up the heart of the overcharged and over-prosecuted cases.

The only reason we know about this case is first the work of the Vanguard, and second, the fact that Mr. Pape ended up taking his own life.  Most people caught in this system suffer in silence and lack the resources to truly be heard.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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.

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110 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: What Went Wrong in the Criminal Prosecution of Eric Pape”

  1. Howard P

    The timeline is important here.  The incident happened in mid-January.  He was arrested in mid-April.  The preliminary hearing took place June 14 – so less than two months from the arrest. 

    So, the January was 2017?

  2. Ken A

    If as David says these kinds of cases are “endemic” (regularly found) in Yolo County I’m wondering if someone can post the names of all the other people charged with assault in Yolo County who took their own lives (or even the names of all the other cheese shoplifters doing hard time)…

    1. Ken A

      The link shows there have been at least three people in the past decade (“endemic”?) facing hard time for shoplifting stuff worth under $5, but the main point of this article is suicide so I’m guessing that David can’t name a single person in Yolo County facing battery charges that took their own life yet he still uses the word “endemic” trying to bash the current DA…

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        The link shows a number of cases where the punishment was disproportionate to the offense. That’s the whole point of the complaint over overcharging. I have personally seen dozens of such cases in my time covering the courts.

  3. Tia Will

    I would like to share how these types of cases can be handled differently.

    1. As an obstetrician, I have been grabbed, hit and kicked numerous times, sometimes with enough force to leave bruises. We all accept this as patient’s behavior out of control from pain, not intentional violence. No one claims criminality. No one calls the police. The patient is talked down, the situation de-escalated, and appropriate medical management is pursued to alleviate the cause….her pain and anxiety. This should also be the case in mental health situations.

    2. One example of another way to handle a mental health issue in the ER. I was a fourth year medical student doing intake on ER patients already triaged as minor cases. I approached the assigned patient, clip board in hand to take a history. He abruptly sat up, lunged forward, and put his hands around my throat. No one panicked. Hearing me call out, a senior resident walked up, calmly put his hand on the patient’s shoulder, called him by name, and in a low, calm voice simply said….”Please let her go”. No one called the police. Turns out, the patient was known by the resident to be a schizophrenic . Patient was admitted to inpatient psych for appropriate care, resident returned to work, as did I. Potential tragedy averted by having the right information, right judgement, and right approach.

  4. Tia Will

    Responding to the previous article on this topic, one poster opined that it is exclusively the fault of the individual who commits suicide. That is certainly true if one takes the narrowest view possible. But what it does not acknowledge is that mental illness, including including self harm does not occur in a vacuum. Individual responsibility should not preclude us, as a society from looking at ways in which we can make life more bearable for those who struggle with mental illness. As a society, both our medical systems and our legal systems are woefully inadequate at dealing with the issues of the mentally ill. I would hope, if nothing else, this tragic case will strengthen our willingness to look at what approaches are both more effective and more humane, and implementing as soon as possible.

  5. Jeff M

    I am disgusted with the Vanguard’s continued attempt to exploit the emotions related to a suicide for politics.  This is not a community blog, this is a mouthpiece of liberal social justice political propaganda.

    No matter what you think the mistakes made were, none of them were responsible for the choice this young man made for taking his own life.  That was 100% his mistake.  If you want to point the finger of blame, point it at yourself for previously failing to advocate strongly enough for needed services to support people with suicide risk while you were otherwise busy protesting, resisting and raging on fake news.

    And I came to work today to see our Riesig signs destroyed.   This is yet another indication of the type of person that represents the character of the typical Johansson supporter.  Exploiting a suicide and destroying personal property.   The real high-quality members of our community.  Disgusting.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “I am disgusted with the Vanguard’s continued attempt to exploit the emotions related to a suicide for politics. This is not a community blog, this is a mouthpiece of liberal social justice political propaganda.”

      But you were completely fine with some of the attacks on Johansson.

      I’ve made the point that this issue raises an ongoing concern and I’ve asked you to give me a number – how many such cases would it take to prove to you this was a pattern, I’ve yet to see you come up with a number.

      1. Jeff M

        I believe, and you can correct me if I am wrong, but the Yolo DA’s office prosecutes about 7,000 cases per year.  I think Riesig has been our DA for 12 years.   So that is 84,000 cases.

        Crime has decreased every single year since Riesig has been the DA relative to the population increases.

        The number of mistakes you cite are quite frankly twaddle… a tiny little percentage of the overall workload that this DA undertakes.

        Riesig is clearly a DA that focuses as an advocate for the victims of crime as his first priority.   Johansson is clearly a candidate that would focus his advocacy on the perpetrators of crime as his fist priority.  Johansson thus should remain an activist and not a DA.

        1. Eric Gelber

          The number of mistakes you cite are quite frankly twaddle… a tiny little percentage of the overall workload that this DA undertakes.

          And the number of unarmed black men shot by police is also a tiny percentage of overall police encounters. That doesn’t mean the Stephon Clark incident and similar cases should be dismissed as “twaddle.” As I noted in response to the prior article on this subject, and as noted in this article, there were mistakes, incompetence, and poor judgment evidenced at many stages of this tragedy. Discussion of these issues is not exploiting suicide for politics; it’s part of the process of identifying systemic problems so one can learn from them and, hopefully, correct things going forward.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Exactly. I think people need to remember that each mistake has the potential to ruin someone’s life.

        2. Jim Hoch

          “Discussion of these issues is not exploiting suicide for politics”

          Unless it appears on the campaign site for a DA candidate in which case it fails the “smell test”.

        3. Tia Will

          Jeff

          Let’s take the statistical model you have supplied and apply it to medicine. On average I was responsible for 10 patient’s a shift, for about 48 shifts a year for 30 years for somewhere around 14,400 patients and their unborn children over the course of my career. If I made, over that time, 5 or so mistakes of judgement that cost women their lives or significantly led to an increased risk for the safety of the labor and delivery unit, I would expect them to find someone likely to be able to do the job more effectively. I certainly would not consider those cases “twaddle” and I doubt the involved families would either.

        4. Jeff M

          Exactly. I think people need to remember that each mistake has the potential to ruin someone’s life.

          You have made many more mistakes in your profession.   Many more.  The largest it your exploitation of a suicide for political purposes.

          But the DA has a job that is much different than yours.  You can make your mistakes without much consequence.   It is irrational to expect perfection from anyone in any profession.

          You think Johansson would not make mistakes?  He has made mistakes before even coming to the ballot for the job he is completely unqualified to take.

          Your pursuit of perfection in things related to crime and punishment is not only foolish, but dangerous.   You believe that somehow Riesig destroyed lives of criminals and criminal suspects and because of this you would vote for a weak on crime candidate that would lead to more real victims of crime.

          If you were balanced and not a paid activist extremist against law enforcement you would have to admit that Riesig has been fabulous at striking the balance.

        5. David Greenwald

          Jeff: Mistakes by a DA ruin people’s lives.  A lot of the mistakes made by this DA are avoidable.  You’re defending things that you not only have not experienced but are really indefensible.

          Also charging someone with a life penalty for stealing cheese is not a “mistake” – it was intentional and they defended it in court. So I think perhaps you are mischaractizing “mistakes.”

        6. Jeff M

          The cheese-stealer was up on three strikes.  Chronic theft was the obvious implication.

          DAs don’t make the law, they simply enforce it.  It appears that you want an activist DA that would ignore some laws and exploit others to satiate your ideological interests.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Your second paragraph is a cop out and it misunderstands what had to happen: He was up on three strikes only because they contorted to make the theft itself a felony rather than a misdemeanor. They weren’t just following the law, they intentionally chose to charge him in such a way so as to make it a felony. And this is a case of a man suffering from mental illness, who needed treatment not prosecution. Perfect example of the problem here.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I think if you treat the problem rather than the symptom you have a chance. I think that throwing a mentally ill individual in prison for life for petty theft is absurd. That cure is worse than the disease.

        7. Jeff M

          That is not Reisig’s responsibility when there are no treatment alternatives.   Why do you see police and prosecuting attorneys as needed to be surrogate parents or social and psychological therapists?  Don’t you get that there is a role called law enforcement?

        8. Keith O

          What we’re seeing here is RDS.

          Reisig Derangement Syndrome.

          It doesn’t matter what he does, liberals will try to turn it into a negative.

        9. Jeff M

          What Phil Wrote:

          We don’t have any ability to divert the suicide victim to an appropriate mental health treatment facility. At least the “system” does not. Nowhere in this abbreviated story is there mention of what the family did, or did not do, to gain treatment. Kudos to Tia, who in a remarkably candid comment concedes the obvious; Reisig can’t be blamed for society’s failure to properly fund a mental health system. But as the column intends, we’ll blame him anyway.

          Suppose we support the notion this case was overcharged. The probable cause standard for charging a criminal act is fully achieved and Reisig must also be mindful he’s supposed to serve “The People,” and there are several victims here.  So, Reisig charges a misdemeanor battery. Yipee. That’s the answer!

          The irony–had anybody thought this through– is that nothing changes with the plight and agony of this particular defendant. The fellow continues to remains free from custody and needed care, he still is anxiety-ridden over his prolonged pending criminal charges. Time-wise, his potential for self-destruction is increased with a misdemeanor charge. The misdemeanor trial court docket is even more crowded than for felonies. Another irony an injustice, had the defendant been in custody, he’d get a quicker trial and resolution to his anxiety.

          Long court delays. Nobody disputes this is a problem. If you want a court trial, you wait seemingly forever. It’s much worse in other jurisdictions. Reisig does not have any authority or funding capability to add additional court rooms and staff. He’d surely do it if he could, it would make his job (and Johannson’s) a lot easier. But we’ll blame him anyway. And Reisig had no role or responsibility in the irrelevant Workers’ Comp dispute. Shall we blame him for that as well?

          Some feel that electing Mr. Johannson DA will somehow reduce the sad stories as described here. But we’re never specifically told how. If Mr. Johansson has a viable plan to find or divert the necessary hundreds of millions of dollars to create quicker access to courtroom relief and a dynamic mental health care system, let’s hear about it. If Mr. Johannson comes up with credible program for this long festering problem, Reisig will vote for him.

        10. Eric Gelber

          Jeff M:

          What Phil wrote.

          The problem is with what Phil didn’t write. There were opportunities at more than one juncture by more than one party to exercise discretion in this matter and, in each instance, it was exercised poorly with tragic results.

        11. Jim Hoch

          “There were opportunities at more than one juncture by more than one party to exercise discretion in this matter and, in each instance, it was exercised poorly with tragic results.”

          But if you can exploit it for your own ends than that’s the way he would have wanted it.

        12. Jeff M

          “There were opportunities at more than one juncture by more than one party to exercise discretion in this matter and, in each instance, it was exercised poorly with tragic results.”

          No.  This is messed up.

          Nobody can read anyone else’s mind.  Healthy people cannot for a moment consider that a person would take their own life.  Healthy people don’t even consider it because they would never do it.   And we are all not trained psychiatrists.

          How do you think this projection makes the suicide victim’s family and friends feel?  I mean you are expecting the DA to somehow get to some point where he guesses that this person is a suicide risk?  Who does that? What the hell is wrong with human biology where a man hikes alone into the red rocks, gets stuck and then cuts off his own arm with a dull pocket knife after 10 days so he can survive, and yet others have a bad day and decide to end it?  Even close ones… husbands, wives, mothers and fathers… they cannot see it coming.  And even if they could, most could not stop it.

          Suicide is a tragic byproduct of a sickness.  Depression is a sickness.  It is like a cancer in that it is unfortunate and likely to lead to premature death.   It is even common for someone that decides to take their own life to act more normal right before they do it.

          True that some are saved.  They find something that gives them a reason to live another day and another day.  And maybe their sickness… their depression is treated or miraculously goes away.  But that is not a choice others can make for them.  There might be luck… someone reaches out at just the right time and says the right things that cause a delay in the suicide that leads to a change.  But that is just luck.  Or maybe they never really wanted to do it.  Maybe they were crying for help and would take it to a point just short of suicide.  We outsiders, we family, we friends… we can never know because at this point we cannot read the mind of another.

          This is the effed up part of this entire thing.  Blaming others for a suicide is wrong.  It is seriously wrong.  It is wrong for family and friends.  It is certainly wrong for outsiders with a political agenda to support.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Here is the problem – you acknowledge that mental illness is a disease, but you miss the point that it is treatable and that in this case instead of treating it, the prosecution criminalized the conduct and put pressure on the individual suffering from the illness. The irnoy is that the supervising deputy DA ACKNOWLEDGED that this was mishandled but you won’t.

        13. Eric Gelber

          Blaming others for a suicide is wrong.

          Blaming for a sucide is also not the point. Whatever the ultimate outcome, this matter was handled poorly from the start—from ER staff not properly trained in the use of physical restraint, to the reporting of this incident to law enforcement, to the decision to press charges, to the decision to charge as a felony, etc. This case came to our attention because of how it ended. But it reveals a more systemic problem of how we treat—or fail to treat—mental illness.

        14. Ken A

          Eric points out that this started with “ER staff not properly trained in the use of physical restraint”.  Has Dean Johansson announced that if elected he will require that all nurses in Yolo County to start twice a week Aikido or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training so they have the skills to restrain people without getting injured?

        15. Jim Hoch

          “Blaming for a suicide is also not the point.”  No, clearly that is the point of the article. The article is entitled “What Went Wrong in the Criminal Prosecution of Eric Pape” which shows the author’s thesis that the prosecution is responsible for this tragedy.

          Mental illness is primarily treated through prosecution and incarceration in California. That’s how we roll.

          The LA County Men’s Central Jail had, and maybe still has, the largest mentally ill population in the world. I was working there for a few months so I can attest to the size of the need. Many families are praying for their loved ones to get arrested. It’s the only time they are well fed and housed. Generally it’s safer in than out and you know where they are.

          If you want to prevent such events in the future you need to look to Sacramento, not Woodland.

    2. Alan Miller

      > This is yet another indication of the type of person that represents the character of the typical Johansson supporter.

      Hey JM, I agree with you about the exploitation of the suicide, but the above is right out of Rush Limbaugh’s “The worst person on your side is an example of how all of you think” strategy.  It’s childish.

      (now I’ve pissed off everybody.  It’s a good day.)

  6. Tia Will

    Jeff

    If you want to point the finger of blame, point it at yourself for previously failing to advocate strongly enough for needed services to support people with suicide risk while you were otherwise busy protesting, resisting and raging on fake news.”

    Ok, I admit to posting while angry. So moderators, feel free to edit if I cross the line.

    First, let’s consider the source of this comment which I believe to be the same individual who is completely willing to publicly lie to get his way. The same individual who stood up in public comment regarding fluoride and accused myself and another doctor of trying to “poison the children of Davis”. Who then came up to me within a few days and jokingly said that he knew that was not our intent but used it for dramatic effect. Now accuses the Vanguard of “fake news”. Really ?

    Next, I know you did not name my partner or myself directly but have frequently painted us with the same brush since we are both closely associated with the Vanguard. I am deeply offended by your “fake news” assertion that we have not “advocated strongly enough for needed services”. So let me address why this offends me.

    My partner is a nationally known expert in the field of self harm prevention. He has developed programs for the state and gives trainings and talks on this subject across the US and in Canada as well as being a published author in this area. On the local level he participated for years on the county Mental Health Board.

    While I do not have his mental health expertise, I have commented on this subject many times often after consultation with him to make sure my facts and opinions  are in alignment. As a member of our administrative team in the department of OB/GYN I pushed for improved mental health services. I sit on the Yolo County Public Health Council, the Maternal, Child, Health Board and the Fetal, Infant Mortality review all of which deal with issues of mental as well as physical health and wellness. I did this while still working and now in retirement.

    So please, Jeff, inform me of just what “advocating strongly enough” would mean to you. Would it perhaps include keeping my mouth shut when you do not happen to agree with my opinions?  And how about backing up your egregious claim by informing the Vanguard readership just exactly what you have done to advocate for improvements in our mental health care system ?

     

    1. Jeff M

      My comment wasn’t directed at you personally except for my disgust for exploiting a suicide for politics.

      But your partner is not the one posting.  It is fantastic that your partner invests this time and effort into supporting the need for suicide prevention.  Bravo.  My family has contributed copious dollars and time to the cause.

      You have no reason to get angry, just clean up your act for exploiting the emotions of a suicide for politics.

       

      1. Tia Will

        Jeff

        just clean up your act for exploiting the emotions of a suicide for politics.”

        You make much about exploiting emotions. In a case such as this, I wonder whose feelings we should be more supportive of. Should we value more highly the feelings of the mother of the individual who committed suicide, who stated publicly on the Vanguard that she was in agreement with my post? Or maybe we should value more highly the “feelings” of an individual known to lie before city council for gain, who for his own political purposes will not answer substantive questions & refuses to substantiate negative claims he has “suspicions” about, but is more than willing to impugn others.

        Every one gets to make their own decision, but I will go with the mother.

        1. Howard P

          The services were Saturday…

          Eric, may you rest in peace, free of the BS spouted here who really care not about you, but have axes to grind…

          I care, as does my ‘source’…

  7. Tia Will

    Jeff

    In addition to your not lying about my motives in public as you have admitted to doing in the past, I would also appreciate it if you would not decide how I should feel and decide and state publicly how you know better than I what my motives are. You acknowledged my partner’s substantive efforts, but completely ignored my substantive contributions so as to make it look as though all I do in this area is to post on the Vanguard. Smooth.

    And you still have not told me how any of these “twaddle” mistakes have made our community any safer.

    1. Jeff M

      Don’t ask silly and irrational questions if you expect an answer.  Riesig has done a fantastic job keeping Yolo Country safe despite your few examples.

      By the way, mistakes made by the medical industry are the leading cause of unnecessary death in this country.  Seems like your profession is severely prone to making mistakes.  Maybe you are in a glass house at this point.

  8. Tia Will

    Jeff

    The largest it your exploitation of a suicide for political purposes.”

    No. That is not what I am doing. Pointing out facts, contributory factors, and presenting alternative ways of handling situations is not “exploitation”. That is your interpretation of what I am doing. Coming from a self avowed public liar for public drama, I suppose I should not take offense. But, yet, I do.

      1. Tia Will

        Alan

        “Self avowed”

        Yes Alan.  A local pediatrician and I had both spoken for the pro side of water fluoridation. We both spoke on the demonstrated facts as we knew them to be. Jeff got up and accused both of us of “trying to poison” the children of Davis. Within a week, he came to me and told me that he “knew we weren’t really trying to poison anyone and had just said that “for effect”. That was a lie. And yet he was willing to say it publicly to get his way. And now he is accusing me of exploitation. I least I have never stood before the council and knowingly lied. Something that he can never say.

         

        1. Jeff M

          Don’t remember that way at all.  The lie was all yours and your support group claiming that there were all these poor children that had poor dental health.  I offered $10k toward a mobile dental van and tried in vain to find those activists that claimed the kids needed the services so that I could help.  Turned out there were no kids that needed the help.  Obamacare to the rescue and the state programs… and the fact that fluoride was in every toothpaste…even the ones that taste like bubblegum, and it is all very in-expensive and all those supposed poor families that needed you to put fluoride in the water thus forcing everyone else to consume it.

          And right there on the toothpaste tube is your beloved government saying that fluoride is a poison.

          So no lies from me.  My point was that I knew you did NOT really want to poison people.  But then again, a lot of doctors over-prescribe drugs these days.  Someone needs to stand up to them.  Maybe I should have called it over-drugging.

      2. Howard P

        If someone is a self avowed liar… they’re obviously lying about that… something about a circle… and the jerks who do it… (lying, of course)

         

        1. Howard P

          Thx… loved that episode… “in real time”… (and the re-runs)

          I try to get things right at least twice a day… like a stopped clock…

          Guess you missed my ‘subtle’ one?  Or just being the adult and ignoring it? Either work, but we’re both digressing..

  9. Tia Will

    Jeff

    your profession is severely prone to making mistakes”

    True as written. But as a member of the specific specialty which has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the USA, and having been involved in development of the evidence based safety protocols that helped achieve this success, I believe I have a right to use my expertise in the area of preventive health care and harm reduction to make recommendations for improvements. While you may not appreciate those efforts, they are acknowledged by our county health experts whose opinions I value over yours.

    1. Jeff M

      The point is that both professions are difficult with respect to professional judgement.  It would be impossible to be perfect… to never make a mistake.   Thousands of transactions that have life and death impacts and considerations and thus the assessment of performance must look at the big picture and not focus on the few mistakes made.

      You have not made a case… not even close… that Riesig’s performance demonstrates a propensity to make mistakes.  If Riesig is to be considered a bad DA from your short list of things you call mistakes, then almost every medical professional, including you, should be considered a bad medical professional.

      And if you are really worried about a DA that makes mistakes, Johansson clearly has some anger issues and demonstrates great risk for making mistakes.  However, in his case the risks are that he will make mistakes that lead to more harm to Yolo County’s law abiding residents.

      Change for change sake is a destructive pursuit.  By any reasonable objective measures for any county in CA, Riesig would be considered a highly performing and accomplished DA.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        “By any reasonable objective measures for any county in CA, Riesig would be considered a highly performing and accomplished DA.”

        Highest trial rate in the state. One of the lowest trial conviction rates in the state. Middle of the tier crime rate but top 10 in per capita incarceration. Those are all reasonable objective measures that suggest he is not a highly performing and accomplished DA>

        1. Jeff M

          Since Reisig has come to office, the amount of crime per resident has fallen until the last couple of years.  However, violent crime has fallen significantly every year.  It is only property crime that has increased.  Thanks to lots of cheese theft in the county and thanks to props 57 and 47. 

          But Yolo is still a crime-ridden place and it has a lot to do with the gang members you seem to have a soft spot for. Reisig is tough on gangs and that works for me and most of the other voters in Yolo County.

          In terms of his progressive performance…

          Started Yolo County’s first “Human Trafficking Unit” to help rescue children lured or forced into sex slavery, catch the criminals responsible and put an end to these dehumanizing crimes.

          Created the Yolo DA’s “Multi-Cultural Community Council (“MCCC”)” to provide a forum for regular and direct interaction between the DA and communities of color.

          Launched a “Citizens’ Academy” to help the public learn about his office, the criminal justice system and improve transparency.

          Started the Yolo County Neighborhood Court system applying the progressive principles of restorative justice. 

          DA and DA staff participate in community events and also take their message to places typically underserved, like migrant camps.

          Notes that 80% of people in prison are high school drop outs and works with educators across Yolo County in a collaborative effort to reduce truancy and dropouts through early interventions and strategic mediations with students and their families.

          Partnered with Yolo County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jesse Ortiz and the MCCC to sponsor a “Youth Academy” for challenged young adults. The first graduating academy included over 23 youth of color and many young women.

          He also worked with judges and defense attorneys to start a program allowing real DUI trials to be conducted in high school auditoriums — allowing students to witness first-hand the criminal justice process and learn about the legal consequences of peoples’ choices.

          Is a strong advocate for universal preschool and early educational interventions that can help reduce mass incarceration.

          His “Environmental Protection Unit” has worked with prosecutors, scientists and officials across the state to pursue dozens of cases that have shut down illegal toxic dumps and continues to protect our lands, water and air quality.

          He has also worked to protect farmworkers from negligent chemical use and safeguard culturally sensitive sites.

          The Anti-Defamation League (“ADL”) has consistently recognized Yolo DA as a leader in this arena. In addition, Jeff was the first District Attorney in California to require all of his prosecutors to participate in a day long training, presented by instructors from the Museum of Tolerance, on reducing implicit bias in prosecution.

          Like I wrote, Reisig would be a welcome DA in every other county in CA.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “Since Reisig has come to office, the amount of crime per resident has fallen until the last couple of years.”

            The crime rate in Yolo has followed the statewide trends which means that others have achieved similar results without draconian measures.

        2. Jeff M

          Your measures don’t reflect his performance based on what his role and job is.  It only reflects your confirmation bias.

          Tia criticizes him for under-charging some cases.

          You people are just not rational.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You are the least rational person here – you’ve presented no evidence, you’ve argued strictly by assertion, and you’ve back it up with nothing. I’ve raised several objective measures – you reject them. That doesn’t invalidate them, it simply reflects the fact that you and I have different values of what we want to see.

        3. Jeff M

          In my world you assess the performance of a professional with the job description.  Maybe you can back your opinion here by reporting what you think the job description of a DA is and attribute Reisig’s performance to his key job accountabilities.

          I have done this and he appears to be knocking it out of the park… going above and beyond what the job description entails.

      2. Tia Will

        Jeff

        1. Both professions are difficult. Human perfection is not attainable. However, that does not mean that we should not be continuously seeking improvement.

        2. Some people can “police” themselves. When I was 57, I became aware that my judgement when fatigued was no longer as sound as it was when I came in fresh in the morning. and my response time slowed.  I asked to be relieved of my L&D duties on this basis. This was not easy as it was my favorite part of the job. But it was necessary before I made the serious judgement error that killed a patient or put the unit at risk. I do not see similar signs of introspection or self awareness in Mr. Reisig.

        3. I disagree with you about whether or not a pattern of poor judgement has been demonstrated. I believe so, you disagree. This is necessarily a subjective assessment.

        4. Again, as you have on several occasions alluded to Johansson’s anger management issues and unfitness for the job without providing even one substantiated example.

        5. I agree with you that change for the sake of change is frequently destructive. That is not what I am seeking. I am seeking change for two reasons. I do not share your favorable impression of the performance of Mr. Reisig. I have read his platform  and attended forums where Dean Johansson has spoken and his approach to law enforcement is more closely aligned with my vision of how to improve community safety. Aren’t those factors on which we should be determining our vote?

  10. Howard P

    Key “take-away” … Eric needed positive intervention, which may have included remaining in custody, and receiving MH assistance.

    Not within the “ken”, responsibility, or power of the DA…

    1. David Greenwald

      What I was told is that in between the incident and being charged, he had enrollment in an IOP program and was progressing well, but being charged with the crime and the anxiety over the trial and his future began to erode the progress he had made.

      1. Howard P

        So… was the proximate cause the DA?  How would you KNOW what he [Eric] was thinking?  I say this as the parent of a friend of his, and yes, I question folk’s motivations on pursuing this.  Mother, perhaps out of grief…

        I also say this being inclined towards the challenger, but NOT because of this issue…

        Services were Saturday… a family member (source) attended…

  11. Tia Will

    I agree with Don. On the note of acrimony, perhaps I can explain my position better.

    When in his mid teens, my son came to me and told me that if he could have found a certain, painless way to commit suicide, he would already have done it. Thankfully, we had great medical support, got same day hospitalization and psychiatrists and counselors that were superb and helped both he and I get through a devastating time in our lives. Having come uncomfortably close to losing him, I can tell you that my response was to share our experience ( with his permission). Had he died, I would have come forward to see if my experience could be helpful to others. What some here see as exploitation, I see as a sincere effort to learn what we can so as to prevent future similar tragedies from occurring. I believe that everyone’s time line for grief and action are different. I think it is very troubling to be so judgmental as to believe that we know what is in heart of another.

    1. Ken A

      Like Tia I also “think it is very troubling to be so judgmental as to believe that we know what is in heart of another.” and if my friend was posting multiple articles to his blog that said decisions by the current DA caused a young man to take his life I would tell him to stop.  Politics is slimy, but this is the worst I have ever seen in this County…

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I think Eric’s comment is a better way to think about it, although I would add “contributed” rather than “caused” as a better and more accurate description.

        Still I think Eric put this succinctly and well: “Whatever the ultimate outcome, this matter was handled poorly from the start—from ER staff not properly trained in the use of physical restraint, to the reporting of this incident to law enforcement, to the decision to press charges, to the decision to charge as a felony, etc. This case came to our attention because of how it ended. But it reveals a more systemic problem of how we treat—or fail to treat—mental illness.”

        1. Howard P

          may have contributed” would be most honest… the only person who might know for sure is unavailable for comment/clarification.. that won’t be changing anytime soon…

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I disagree. He shared things with people around him in real time. They were adamant that this was a major issue that was heavily weighing on him.

        2. Howard P

          If he shared his intention to end his life, and no one acted, you can add all them to being “contribitors”, no question.  And they had the best, last chance to intervene and get help for him.  I’d make them most culpable, if it was, as you say, ‘in real time’.  If they were so adamant, why did none of them ACT?

          Sorry, that is the sad truth… if they knew where things were headed, and didn’t act, they had better own that!

          Hard to blame “society”, if those closest didn’t act.

        3. Howard P

          You presume I presume.

          Out of respect for the deceased, his family and friends, am ending this here, on my side… you can do any damn thing you want…

  12. Tia Will

    Jeff

    So no lies from me.  My point was that I knew you did NOT really want to poison people”

    But that isn’t what you said in council is it?  You specifically claimed that I was trying to poison them. Knowledge that your statement was untrue is what made it a lie.

    I did not make any statements that I knew were untrue.

      1. Tia Will

        Jeff

        So which of my posts are you alluding to as a “false memory”?

        What you said at City Council? That is verifiable on tape.

        That you admitted that you knew at the time you said it that you knew it was false?  I can’t prove that you said it in private. But you just confirmed it this morning by writing:

        “My point was that I knew you did NOT really want to poison people”

        But that didn’t stop you from accusing me of it in public at the city council.

        So maybe what we need to review is the definition of a lie: lie is a statement used intentionally for the purpose of deception.

        Which is exactly what you said you did.

      1. Tia Will

        Jeff

        Dosage matters. The amount that was proposed to be added to the water was far less than the amount you admitted that your children self administered from tooth paste thus causing them to have fluorosis as you noted. If they had been getting it through the water instead of from toothpaste, they would not have had the fluorosis to begin with.

        1. Jeff M

          Do not swallow.   Says right there on the packaging.  Yet you want it to be put in the drinking water.   With kids and their bubble gum flavored toothpaste, you cannot prevent them from swallowing some.  And then you add more in the water.  So in effect you would be advocating for poisoning people.  Although I know that would not be your intent.

          What does this have to do with Johansson being a terrible choice for DA given that we already have an A+ DA?

  13. Tia Will

    I remain  very disturbed about the accusation of “exploitation”. Many of you, like me, have a timeline that you seem to feel is an “appropriate time to discuss these types of sensitive issues.

    My timeline having faced life threatening mental illness with both of my children was immediately.

    Eric’s family’s time line was whenever David got their permission to first publish.

    So for each of you who has accused us of exploitation, please provide the exact date on which you feel it would not be “exploitation” to discuss errors and possible preventative measures to try to prevent the next similar case?

    1. David Greenwald

      The other problem I have with this is if you are troubled by charging policies of the DA’s office – as embodied by this incident and many others – when do you raise the issue?  It’s just like when people protest the death of Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin – you do it in real time in the moment.

      1. Howard P

        Please note that Garner and Martin died “at other’s hands”… directly… proximate… not same, by a longshot… if you can’t see that, can’t help you…

        And legitimate law enforcement wasn’t even the equation for Martin… that was a stupid, knuckle-dragging cracker who did that… he (Zimmerman?) should have either been committed on a MH thing, or imprisioned for 20+ years…

        1. Howard P

          There is a presumption, in auto collisions, that the person who had the last, best chance to avoid the crash, has culpability… think about that…

    2. Howard P

      That last line is so “out of line”… particularly your ‘demand’ for exact date, from folk that view things differently than you…

      One of my family members attended Eric’s services, as a friend.

      Oh, and I ‘reported’ your comment, based on your last line…

    3. Jim Hoch

      If you look at the title of the article “What Went Wrong in the Criminal Prosecution of Eric Pape” it’s clear that David is exploiting this tragedy for his war against Reisig.  The timing is irrelevant.

      1. David Greenwald

        How can timing be irrelevant?  In fact, I would argue that timing is the only thing that matters.  (A) This just happened.  (B) There is a limited window to raise relevant policy issues.  If this were brought up in July, you’d say, why didn’t you raise it before, now Reisig’s been reelected for another four years.  There is no good time to have policy discussions.  But the reality is that when Eric Garner died, people had debates over police oversight.  Why is this any different? Moreover – if not now – when? I know you won’t answer these questions.

      2. Howard P

        Not sure I agree fully, but David and Tia’s (particularly her latest post) surely point in that direction… I say this, not as an endorsement but as a fact, I’m VBM, and voted for the challenger… it was a ‘tweener’…

        Nice thing… won’t turn my VBM ballot in until election day [PSA… if you’re VBM, you can turn it in at any polling place]… just in case someone does a “stupid” or I get p’d off at their supporters [PSA, again… you can always surrender your VBM ballot, and vote in your home precinct… from someone who has been a poll worker for over 20 years… I know this “stuff”]

        I agree, in the main… but not fully…

  14. Ron

    The next comment with be the 100th! (And really, I still haven’t gathered much objective information regarding the substantive differences between the two candidates.)

    1. Howard P

      Thank you for your lack of sensitivity on this matter/topic, and for not moving any football forward…

      Nice job!

      Also thank you for your admission of “haven’t gathered much objective information regarding the substantive differences between the two candidates.”  Bravo!

      Have a great evening… you have 3 wks to decide,,,edited

      1. Ron

        Howard:  You acknowledged above there are strong political overtones on display, here. And frankly, by the time that I got to the end of these comments (over the past couple of days), I almost lost track of the actual tragedy that occurred.  There was another article that reported on the tragedy itself, and I refrained from commenting there.  This article (once again) is focused on the DA (as well as many of the comments which followed).

        The ongoing series of articles criticizing the current DA have not shed any light on the actual differences between the candidates, in terms of the choices that they would make.  Or, the ramifications of those choices.  In other words, there isn’t much value here, regarding that. Instead of making a sarcastic comment (as you’ve done above), perhaps you could state whether or not you agree with that.

        1. Ron

          I realize that the implication here is that the challenger would have either not prosecuted this case at all, or would have done so at a lesser level.  And that a tragedy might, or might not have been avoided.

          I was speaking at a broader level, regarding the series of articles and comments criticizing the DA.  Does the challenger support less prosecution, in general?  Or, for certain types of crimes?  If so, what are the ramifications of that?

          Instead, what we have is a series of articles attacking the DA. Given the anecdotal examples, coupled with the overwhelmingly political nature of this blog (and the probability that we’re only getting one side of the story, since the DA is usually not going to respond to the daily onslaught), I find it difficult to automatically trust the conclusions.

        2. Ron

          In further response to Howard, I’d suggest that it’s the job of media to move the ball forward, in terms of relevant information. And, I’m not seeing this occurring, here.

          Commenters engaging in attacks on each other day-after-day (usually based upon biases of some type), is ultimately boring.  And yet, that’s what the comment section turns into almost every day.  (With that direction normally established by the article, itself.)

          Perhaps engaging in constant conflict is a sport/hobby, for some. Gives them a purpose in life, I guess.

  15. Tia Will

    Howard

    That last line is so “out of line”… particularly your ‘demand’ for exact date, from folk that view things differently than you…”

    I think it is out of line to make criticisms of another’s intent, thoughts, actions without being willing to propose what you think is the right thing to do. Easy to cast stones. Difficult to analyze and propose something better.

    During my time on our administrative team, if you were going to criticize another team member, it was incumbent upon you to make an alternative proposal.

    To those who have been very critical of my posts, I have noted few to no responses to the substantive comments I have made. There was one comment only recognizing that I did not blame the DA for the suicide at all, but cited multiple factors. I noted different options in the ER based on actual events – no comment. What seems to me to be the case is that objectors to the timing are more interested in critiquing the Vanguard than they are actually looking at what alternatives might have helped to secure a better outcome.

    1. Howard P

      Welcome to the real world… when someone does something right, no comment made… very rare an “atta’ person”… ever let City folk (employees) know that you appreciate the good job they did?  Keeping water flowing to your house, making sure the wastes you produce going away?

      As to responding positively to, or even acknowleging,  “substantive comments” made by others (in this case, you)… suggest you look at your own track record before you complain about that…

      I do acknowledge you were not directly part of the “pile-on”, leaving Eric’s death at the feet of the DA, except for the fact you never criticized the folk who did “pile on”…

      Here’s hoping for you to have a great Wednesday…

  16. David Greenwald Post author

    Ron:

    I’ve debated over how to respond to your post, but the first point will be that while this is definitely an article critical of the current DA (among others on this case), the intent here is to highlight what I consider an ongoing problem in the criminal justice system and not to facilitate your understanding of the differences between the incumbent and challenger.  I view that as the purview of the campaigns.

    Nevertheless, I think if you read this closely you will see there is a fundamental difference between how the DA and Public Defender’s office would handle this.

    Jonathan Raven is clearly conflicted over the handling but believes it to be clear “felony conduct.”

    Tracie Olson does not believe that mental health court is the appropriate venue because she argues that mental health related conduct should not be charged as criminal conduct.

    You can read easily between the lines here as to where Dean Johansson comes down as his current boss clearly states her view which liekly but not certainly mirrors his own.

    1. Howard P

      David… need to commend you for your ‘coverage’ on today’s article on the Vet, facing MH/Suicidal issues, and felony charges… events that began 6 months ago… too bad same had not been done by someone six months after Eric’s saga began… not pointing a finger here, but perhaps you bringing up the newer issue will result in a better outcome for the Vet.   And many others in the future, by raising awareness.   Good work.

    2. Ron

      David:  The point being that facilitating understanding of the differences between the incumbent and challenger is probably more valuable to most readers, than simply and repeatedly attacking just one side, day-after-day.  (But, that’s pretty much what the Vanguard does, with every political issue that it focuses on.)  Perhaps it’s ultimately just not my cup of tea.

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