Deputy DA Status Unclear Following Traffic Accident

Barry Shaprio
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Deputy DA Barry Shapiro (right) walks with the family member of victim in a case where he got the conviction for a vehicular manslaughter in September.
Deputy DA Barry Shapiro (right) walks with the family member of victim in a case where he got the conviction for a vehicular manslaughter in September/ DA photo.

Multiple sources have told the Vanguard that, following a night of drinking, Yolo County Deputy DA Barry Shapiro was involved in a single-car collision a few weeks ago, which resulted in his abandoning his vehicle on a county road.

CHP Spokesperson Pedro Leon confirmed that the CHP found the abandoned vehicle belonging to a Barry Shapiro on Highway 128 west of Winters near Pleasants Valley Road. The vehicle was disabled after being involved in a single-car collision.

However, Officer Leon indicated that there is no mention of a DUI investigation involving Mr. Shapiro.

Questions remain about Mr. Shapiro’s employment status. Sources have told the Vanguard that he has not been seen in the courthouse since the accident just over two weeks ago.

County Counsel Phil Pogledich would only confirm, “Barry Shapiro is a Deputy District Attorney. Aside from that, I have no comment on his employment status.” An email sent to Mr. Shapiro would go without response, however, there was no immediate message suggesting he was out of the office.

According to the California Bar Association website’s records, Mr. Shapiro passed the bar just under three years ago in December of 2012. He has been an employee with the Yolo County DA’s office for just under two and a half years, after graduating from Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.

It has been just under two years since former Deputy DA Sulaiman Tokhi resigned from the DA’s office effective November 16, following an October 19 arrest in Fairfield in which he attempted to “badge” the CHP officer involved in the arrest.

In that case, Mr. Tokhi entered a reduced plea of “wet reckless” that resulted in probation, payment of a $953 fine and his enrollment in a 12-hour alcohol education course. Mr. Tokhi had been with the Yolo County DA’s office since 2006, and is now working as a Deputy DA in Monterey County.

Mr. Shapiro’s potential situation is made more interesting by the fact that he is assigned to work DUI cases. Six days after the accident, Mr. Shapiro was quoted in a Daily Democrat article, on the DA’s office’s funding to crack down “on drivers under the influence well into the new year.”

The article, dated October 28, reports, “Under the auspices of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the DA’s Office received a renewed grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety Thursday. According to a statement from Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven, the grant funds — a little more than $186,000 for the 2015-16 fiscal year — will be used to continue its DUI vertical prosecution unit.”

“The danger of driving while impaired by a drug is just as significant as the danger posed by alcohol impairment,” the article quotes Deputy District Barry Shapiro, who they report “helps oversee the special DUI unit.” He would add, “Just because a drug is prescribed does not mean it is safe for an individual driver, and does not mean an individual can drive with that drug in his system.”

The next day, on October 29, the Davis Enterprise reported, “Formed in 2012, the unit focuses on the most serious and complex DUI cases, such as those involving injury and death, and those involving drug impairment. It is led by Deputy District Attorney Barry Shapiro and Investigator John Shugart.”

Funding for the DUI unit “allows Shapiro to handle a case through all stages of the criminal process, from the time of the arrest through sentencing. Additionally, the funding also allows the team to assist law enforcement in the investigation of fatal and major injury collisions.”

“DUIs, despite being one of the most preventable crimes, pose such an enormous danger to our community because anyone can be a potential victim. Once impaired drivers get behind the wheel, they lose control over what can turn into a deadly weapon,” Mr. Shapiro added.

At this point, there is no evidence that charges have been filed or that the case is being investigated as a DUI. The Vanguard will update this story as details become available.

—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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38 thoughts on “Deputy DA Status Unclear Following Traffic Accident”

  1. Barack Palin

    What’s the purpose of this article?  It’s based on hearsay, nobody but possibly the driver of the vehicle got hurt and no other vehicles were involved.  Why would there be a DUI investigation way after the fact?  How could it be proven that the driver of the car was indeed intoxicated while driving unless they were apprehended at the scene or immediately after?

    1. PhilColeman

      To some of those points raised: The suspicion that the DDA was alcoholic impaired was solely based on multiple unnamed sources saying Shapiro had been drinking earlier that evening.

      Assuming that’s true, there is still the legal burden putting the vehicle owner “behind the wheel” of that vehicle at the time of the car abandonment. The simple logic says that, “How else could it be?” But Shapiro could say he had a sober traveling companion with him at some time during the evening. That person was “behind the wheel.” Of course, that leads to the follow-up question, who?, and a whole new level of complexity starts from there.

      Let’s then assume Shapiro admits to the entire event of being in a one-car accident, causing no damage except to himself.  The condemning conclusion ” . . . had been drinking earlier” falls far short of remotely proving he was a DUI which was suggested in this column and amplified with somebody else’s “prior” as further evidence (?).

      One or more of the “multiple sources” would have to step forward. The witness(s) would have to be able to say that the DDA had X-number of beverages known to contain alcohol, within a specified time frame. The witness(s) would also have to meet minimum standards of credibility and objectivity when projecting their testimony into a courtroom setting.

      Even with that level of detail, extending that rationale to a later (how late?) time of accident does not adequately support a probable cause standard of charging a DUI. This detail is given only to rebut any future intimations that Shapiro’s superiors are “taking care of their own.” You would have the same protection as does Shapiro, because both of you live in the United States.

      Persons entrusted by government with a higher level of authority to perform their duty compared to everybody else are also be measured against a higher level of responsibility and accountability. That’s also because we live in the United States of America. If Shapiro were working for an accounting firm this incident took place, he’d answer to a much lower employment standard than being a DDA.

      The accountant, skillfully prepared by a retained attorney, could probably escape discipline, and certainly escape criminal prosecution. For Shapiro, his greatest risk comes from his employer, but administratively, not criminally.

      1. tj

        The person with the most information about his condition would be the person(s) who gave him a ride after the one car collision.   Perhaps a fellow drinker, a co-worker?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          There is a big difference in that a public defender is not in charge of potentially prosecuting other people for the crime he himself committed.

        2. hpierce

          “There is a big difference in that a public defender is not in charge of potentially prosecuting other people for the crime he himself committed.”?  Despite…

          “At this point, there is no evidence that charges have been filed or that the case is being investigated as a DUI.”  Disconnect?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “There is a big difference in that a public defender is not in charge of potentially prosecuting other people for the crime he himself committed.”?

            Hence “potentially”

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You’re parsing my comment more closely than I was intending. Besides potentially modifies both terms and remember the phrase is “a public defender” therefore drawing an analogy.

  2. Biddlin

    Calling BS on David, “Multiple sources have told the Vanguard…”

    Who are these sources? Criminal defense attorneys, perhaps? Other DDAs who’d like the job?

    It could be truthfully said by patrons of the bar I played Friday that I had 5 drinks, 2 on stage and 3 at the bar. If they said I was drunk, they’d be lying, because I was drinking Virgin Marys.  Blather from barflies may qualify as reliable information to The Vanguard, but it tends to make me think that you  don’t have the goods and you don’t want to dig any deeper, knowing there’s nothing there.

    ;>)/

    1. Davis Progressive

      whoever those sources are – they were essentially correct.  the vanguard confirmed he was in an accident as described.  the vanguard got an answer from the county counsel that suggests he may be on some kind of admin leave as the county investigates what happened.  you would not normally get that kind of answer from the county if he was in good standing.  so maybe the vanguard has it right.

      1. PhilColeman

        Can’t agree with an extension of a hypothesis in the two directions shown.

        County counsel’s very abbreviated response was in compliance with County policy and personnel law. He/she could properly and legally say nothing more than what was said. When you talk officially with an attorney, the attorney will speak like attorneys do, and this case, must.

        To take that remark as Shapiro being on administrative leave–or that a employee in good standing would have received a more thorough reply–is two extensions of conjecture I simply can’t support as being credible.

         

      2. hpierce

        Key word is “maybe”… maybe the earth’s rotation will stop tomorrow.  DP says the sources are “essentially correct”… on what points?  How the hell does DP “know” this?  Is DP a “source”?

        Am not defending someone I do not know, but neither will I ‘convict him’ (parsing aside, David, the plain meaning of your words say that you believe he committed a ‘crime’), based on this tripe.  If you believe it is true, either come forward with the evidence, and/or encourage your “sources” to do so… or shut the F up!  IF it is true, then that info should be part of the record, and pursued.  Otherwise, it amounts to character assassination, or worse (brush-up on the term “libel”, David).  At least in my mind.

  3. Davis Progressive

    what’s interesting is to contrast shapiro’s words: “DUIs, despite being one of the most preventable crimes, pose such an enormous danger to our community because anyone can be a potential victim. Once impaired drivers get behind the wheel, they lose control over what can turn into a deadly weapon” to his deeds the week before.

    people keep wanting to assign a parallelism between da’s and defense attorneys, but they aren’t parallel.  a da is a law enforcement officer and represents “the people.”  a defense attorney has taken oaths and should be punished when they violate their charge, but it’s not the same thing.

  4. Barack Palin

    to his deeds the week before

    His alleged deeds.

    Unfortunately it looks like the guy’s reputation has already been tarnished by this article.  It may be true, but can’t we wait until all the facts come forward if they ever actually do?  In my opinion running with this story using “sources” with a man’s career possibly on the line is over the top.

    1. Biddlin

      “running with this story using “sources” with a man’s career possibly on the line is over the top.”

      Exactly, which leads me to ponder, how did he wander into David’s cross-hairs?  My first thought was that the firefighters must be hibernating…

      ;>)/

      1. Davis Progressive

        you realize you’re guilty of far more speculation in your one sentence than david had in his entire piece.  again, the story was largely confirmed.

        1. Anon

          DP: “confirmed by the chp and the county counsel’s office

          The CHP and County Counsel’s Office confirmed a DUI? That is what is being alleged here.

        2. hpierce

          Could he been guilty of “texting while driving”? Inattention?  The only FACT in evidence is that there was a single vehicle crash, and that the vehicle was abandoned.  Wish I was a libel attorney…

    2. Davis Progressive

      didn’t the county counsel’s answer mostly confirm the sources – if it had been strictly a traffic accident, mr. shapiro would have an active status.

      1. Biddlin

        “Barry Shapiro is a Deputy District Attorney. Aside from that, I have no comment on his employment status.”

        Confirms that he works there.

        Do you have any firsthand information that we don’t?

        ;>)/

        1. Davis Progressive

          confirms there is something in his employment status to comment on, otherwise he would have left it at the first statement.  if you don’t believe me, call their office and ask about someone you know is in good standing.

        2. Yule

          DP, it confirms that their HR department is following the rules and best practices that have been in effect for the 30 years and followed by organizations big and small – confirm employment and title, no more, no less.

  5. Anon

    This story smacks of guilt by innuendo, not by evidence.  Methinks in the Vanguard’s eagerness to smear the DA’s office, it printed a story based on hearsay, which is notoriously unreliable.  It is certainly not responsible journalism.  The Vanguard should have been far more careful in its wording, or waited to print this story after the Vanguard received enough tangible FACTS.

    Alcoholism is a rampant problem in the legal profession, often because of the long work hours and intensity of the case loads.  Hence the reason the State Bar has “The Other Bar” to help those in the legal profession who have developed addiction problems.  Any DDA/DA who is found guilty of a DUI needs assistance but should also be appropriately disciplined.  But the last I heard, in this country, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

  6. Tia Will

    Anon

    But the last I heard, in this country, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

    That is the theory, but we have multiple instances here on the Vanguard of people deciding guilt in their own minds long before there has been a trial, let alone a conviction. It would seem that for some their ideology is a far stronger determinant than is proof of guilt.

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        So Tia Will, how do you feel about this article?”

        The same as always. Exactly the same as I felt about Planned Parenthood, and any number of other cases in which people were willing to vilify on  lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

        Innocent until proven guilty.

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