My View: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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The latest attack piece comes in.  “Character matters” it reads, with a long litany of complaints against Dean Johansson.  It is a classic, old school attack piece.  Most of the attacks have already been aired, but my favorite is: “Now defends child molesters, rapists, and other violent criminals as a long-time defense attorney.”

Apparently these people do not believe that the accused deserve due process of law represented by a competent attorney.

When Dean Johansson threw his hat into the race it was in large part out of desperation.  He has explained in numerous public venues that he was looking for a woman from outside the area after Deputy DA Larry Eichele bowed out.  When he couldn’t find anyone else, he decided he couldn’t ask someone else to do what he was unwilling to do – and so he threw himself into the race.

On paper, he could argue that he was running with the spirit of Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia civil rights attorney turned reformist district attorney.  The question was always – could he capture the spirit of the people?  Was there a spirit in Yolo County ready to come out?

The way he tells it, he had a room full of some of the finest political minds in Yolo County.  They told him he was entering the race too late.  They told him he needed to raise $150,000 to even be in the game.

But the game has changed since 2006, the last time we had a contested district attorney’s race.  Facebook was in its infancy and largely relegated to college students.  Social media was largely unknown and untapped.  The iPhone revolution had not hit.

What has transpired is nothing short of remarkable.  Talk to Reisig supporters privately and they are concerned.  The campaign is acting like it has at the very least a fight on its hands.  They have raised tens of thousands in the last few weeks – mostly from law enforcement and deputy DAs.  There was $16,000 last week from DPOA (Davis Police Officers Association), backed by another $3000 this week from the CSLEA (California Statewide Law Enforcement Association) and $2000 from the WSPOA (West Sacramento Police Officers Association).

They have attacked Dean Johansson for being fired with cause, for allegedly refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance and for an incident from 11 years ago where he was investigated but never charged with domestic violence against one of his kids.

It is not clear that any of this has stuck.

It is also not clear that Jeff Reisig, the 12-year incumbent, has expanded his base of support from his core support.  Money is clearly coming in, mostly from law enforcement and the deputy DAs in his office.

The Johansson campaign on Friday put out a newsletter to volunteers stating: “There are now over 500 of you now; when this campaign began, there were 25 supporters.”  They are walking precincts.  The campaign claims they have more than 50 regular precinct walkers canvassing the district.

The response has been remarkable.  A few week ago, I was told by a Reisig supporter that reports from the field were that they were encountering many people who told the Reisig campaign not to bother – they were voting for Dean.  I spoke to once canvasser yesterday who walked Northern Woodland and ran out of signs to hand out before she got off the first block.

There is anger out there.  Twelve years is a long time and anger has never had the opportunity to find a vehicle.  The campaign is tapping into that.

Dean Johansson has been able to tap into a lot of things that have converged into one moment in time.  When Trump got elected people became angry and active – many for the first time.  We have seen that locally with groups like Indivisible Yolo.  At the same time, the Picnic Day incident got formal groups like People Power active and brought less organized and formal groups into the fore.

These groups were angered by the police treatment of the five individuals, but also angered by the fact that the DA’s office charged the five young people of color with crimes – but not the police officers.

The anger over the treatment of those individuals received a vehicle when Dean Johansson announced he would run.

The Johansson campaign therefore is tapping into local energy and national energy – not because Jeff Reisig is Trump, but rather because Jeff Reisig represents a defender of the status quo – mass incarceration, police violence against people of color, and the status quo.

That energy is bolstered by stats that show Yolo County is out of step with the rest of California.  Yolo County leads the state in per capita trial rate, it is near the top in per capita incarceration, it was once the leader in direct filing of juvenile offenders in adult court.

Moreover, Jeff Reisig has been the defender of law enforcement.  He refused to criminally charge the officers who shot and killed Luis Gutierrez, he prosecuted the Galvan brothers rather than the officers who beat them senseless, he prosecuted the Pepper Spray protesters for bank blocking but not Lt. John Pike, and he prosecuted the Picnic Day 5 rather than the Davis Police Department 3.

The fight, however, is probably still an uphill fight.  The newspapers have bought into the mantra that Jeff Reisig is a reformer.

The Sacramento Bee, in endorsing Reisig, called the race a battle between “progressive v. progressive enough.” They wrote that “voters would be remiss in writing off Reisig as a tough on crime DA, instead of the viable middle-of-the-road candidate that he is.”

The Davis Enterprise went further, writing, “Despite efforts by those opposed to him to portray him as something that he is not, Reisig is, in fact, one of the most progressive district attorneys in the state. … The truth is that under Reisig’s leadership, Yolo County is a leader in reforming the justice system.

“The attacks on Reisig have been driven entirely by ideology. We can’t fathom replacing a competent, effective prosecutor purely on those grounds. Yolo County will do itself a great service by re-electing Jeff Reisig as district attorney.”

Just last week, the Sacramento Bee, in endorsing embattled Sacramento DA Anne-Marie Schubert, wrote that her record cannot compare “to the kind of restorative justice programs giving low-level offenders alternatives to jail in, say, Yolo County.”

But those papers are making the same mistake they did in 2016 when they dismissed the revolutionary energy of the Bernie Sanders campaign in favor of the status quo of Hillary Clinton.  The Sacramento Bee declared that Jeff Reisig was progressive enough and lauds programs like the Neighborhood Court.

However, if you look at his seminal program, the Neighborhood Court, you realize that he is taking defendants into that program who would not be charged with a crime at all in Sacramento.  How is that more progressive than other locations?

His office now admits they missed the ball with the Eric Pape prosecution, but the reality is that they merely got their hands caught in the cookie jar on that one.  This is their modus operandi for the last 12 years – prosecutions, heavy-handed, at all costs.  Usually the cost has been excessive prison time for relatively minor offenses – what is eight years for stealing cheese, 10 years for stealing Chinese food, 20 years for bounced checks?

This office wanted to charge a man with felony burglary for stealing a Godiva chocolate bar before a judge stopped them saying that “it’s a candy bar!”

What Jeff Reisig and his campaign are encountering on the campaign trail are those chickens coming home to roost.

This isn’t a scare tactic that some are buying into.  Dean Johansson’s campaign is tapping into legitimate anger and frustration with a system that many in this county feel over-prosecutes minor crimes and criminalizes people of color.

Can Dean Johansson pull this off?  There is a lot of money flowing into this campaign for his opponent.  Jeff Reisig and his supports have already shown they are not afraid to hit below the belt.  And they are willing to double-down on these tactics to do a full court press in the final two and a half weeks.

But the amazing thing that we saw in the 2016 campaign is that, for a sizable portion of the population, they wanted change and they did not care what vehicle delivered that change – whether it was a 74-year-old socialist or a 70-year-old self-proclaimed billionaire.

Dean Johansson in that sense is the easier sell – he can sell the public that there is something wrong with the criminal justice system and it is time for a change.  Jeff Reisig has the task of showing the voters he is “progressive enough.”

—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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72 thoughts on “My View: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

  1. Jim Hoch

    Dean Johansson in that sense as the easier sell – he can sell the public that there is something wrong with the criminal justice system and it time for a change.  Jeff Reisig has the task of showing the voters he is “progressive enough.”

     

    Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality, or reality. It is a product of resolving conflicts between belief and desire.”

  2. Tia Will

    As a volunteer for Dean, from early in the campaign, I have seen a lot of anger and desire for change. But I have also seen a lot of hope.

    Hope that the “reforms” that DA Reisig has made can move beyond window dressing to reality. Hope that diversion programs will actually divert rather than require a conviction or confession for eligibility. Hope that the DA will stop squandering money on lengthy sting operations for legal cannabis businesses and focus on dangerous criminals. Hope that we will stop treating mentally ill individuals as though they were hardened criminals. Hope that we stop bargaining with methamphetamine dealers for testimony allowing them more time to further harm our community. Hope that we can begin to discern the difference between deliberate criminality and mental illness with no intent to harm and treat them differently. DA Reisig will not make these changes. He has had over a decade in which to do so.

    Will Dean Johansson prove better? Frankly, I don’t know. I can’t see the future. But he is by experience qualified for the job. I believe we should give him his chance.

  3. Jim Hoch

    “I have seen a lot of anger and desire for change. But I have also seen a lot of hope.” And how often to you get to Woodland and West Sac? I’m not opposed to Dean but to say that all your friends like Dean and therefore he will win is wishful thinking. 

    Driving around West Sac and Woodland Dean signs are a rarity.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I go to Woodland two or three times a week. It depends where you are talking about – but in a lot of disadvantaged communities there is a fear that putting up a Dean sign with get them TARGETED by law enforcement.

      1. Howard P

        but in a lot of disadvantaged communities there is a fear that putting up a Dean sign with get them TARGETED by law enforcement.

        Don’t need names or locations, but what is the basis for your assertion?  It seems incredible, in more than one sense of that word…

        My experience is that only ‘advantaged’ folk ask for and get lawn signs, no matter what the issue… but perhaps you have valid, other experiences…

        ex: assuming you agree that the homeless are disadvantaged, I see no signs where they hang out… fear of being “targeted”?

        1. Howard P

          Oh… and my experience is that the “disadvantaged” neither register, nor turn out to vote (don’t participate)… and then we need to come to a common understanding of what “disadvantaged” is… know some rich, conservative, Republicans in CA, who believe they are ‘disadvantaged’ as to representation… know some rich (or, well off, above the median), progressive, Democrats in CA who feel they are under-represented… they feel ‘disadvantaged’… see indications, above…

      2. Jim Hoch

        “Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality, or reality. It is a product of resolving conflicts between belief and desire.”

    2. Tia Will

      Jim

      The first event that I attended for Dean was in West Sac. That was where I first encountered the spirit of hope. I have discussed this election twice with groups in Woodland and have encountered the same readiness for a change. Your initial point however is correct, since I live here, I have spent much more time on the campaign in Davis.

      1. Jim Hoch

        Tia,

         

        This election is more a referendum on Reisig than it is a race between two people. If people do not have a reason to vote against Reisig they will not vote for Dean.

        I don’t believe that most people are unhappy with Reisig and Dean has not given them a reason to be unhappy.

         

         

  4. Matt Williams

    “On paper, he could argue that he was running with the spirit of Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia civil rights attorney turned reformist District Attorney.  The question was always – could he capture the spirit of the people?  Was there a spirit in Yolo County ready to come out?”

    For a sense of Larry Krasner, please see the following video https://youtu.be/yuKdByZwuAo

    Or listen to the following story on NPR. https://www.npr.org/player/embed/598318897/598503630

    Philadephia’s New DA Wants Prosecutors To Talk Cost Of Incarceration While In Court

    Every day, judges around the country are deciding the fate of criminal defendants by trying to strike the right balance between public safety and fairness.

    In Philadelphia, the new progressive district attorney has launched an experiment. He’s asking his prosecutors to raise another factor with judges: the cost of incarceration.

    The move has ignited a debate about whether the pricetag of punishment belongs in courtrooms.

    Do a little math

    “Fiscal responsibility is a justice issue, and it is an urgent justice issue,” Larry Krasner said at a press conference recently.

    Krasner is a former civil rights lawyer who rode into office on a platform of radically revamping the city’s district attorney’s office by opposing the death penalty, stepping away from cash bail and seeking shorter prison sentences for offenders.

    He sees asking prosecutors and judges to grapple with the cost of locking up a defendant as a stride toward fulfilling his promise of trying to fight mass incarceration.

    At sentencing hearings, when prosecutors traditionally talk about the impact on victims and the community and the need for deterrence, they now will also have to do a little math.

    Since the average cost of housing a prisoner for a year in Pennsylvania is $42,000, the prosecutor might say something like, judge, we are recommending four years in prison for this person. And that will cost taxpayers more than $160,000.

    “A dollar spent on incarceration should be worth it,” Krasner said. “Otherwise, that dollar may be better spent on addiction treatment, on public education, on policing and on other types of activity that make us all safer.”

    Asking prosecutors to tell judges the taxpayer tab of putting someone away is unusual. If cost is mentioned at all, it would far more likely be cited by a defense lawyer. Putting that responsibility of prosecutors has not been tested much in the country.

    In 2010, Missouri made a similar proposal, making cost information available to judges, but it was not a mandatory consideration.

    University of Pennsylvania law and economics professor David Abrams said whether the move impacted the prison sentences judges handed down in Missouri has never been studied.

    In Philadelphia, Abrams said it may just force judges to ponder the societal cost of incarceration a little differently, though he does not expect it to have sway across the city’s entire justice system.

    “I think there are going to be marginal cases where the judge is somewhat indifferent between harsher and maybe more expensive and slightly lass harsh and maybe vastly less expensive sentences, where this will make a difference,” Abrams said.

    “Absurd, irrelevant, ridiculous, nonsense and horrific”

    Not everyone in Philadelphia’s criminal law world is embracing the news. Some prosecutors say privately that they plan to ignore the guidance completely. And one judge recently said he would hold an assistant district attorney in contempt of court if the cost issue was raised again.

    Richard Sax, for one, is not surprised. He spent more than 30 years as a homicide prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office before retiring last year. Here is his appraisal of Krasner’s new policy: “The words that come to mind are absurd, irrelevant, ridiculous, nonsense and horrific,” Sax said.

    Sax calls the announcement a public relations stunt and said it is insulting to victims of crime.

    “It should have no bearing on whether a society, or a community or people who are at risk of being victimized should be protected from a human being, an individual,” he said.

    And some families of crime victims agree with Sax, saying it is impossible to quantify what it is like to be the victim of crime.

    Just ask Celestine Shorts of North Philadelphia. Her brother, Christopher, was fatally shot last year. She said a courtroom debate about money would be upsetting to her.

    “When you voluntarily hurt someone, I think you should be accountable for your actions. Was it only set to work if it’s in the budget, or was it set with laws or law? Rules are rules, we have a structure,” she said.

    In Krasner’s estimation, that structure has caused America to have more criminals locked up than any other country.

    Krasner said input from victims and their families will still be considered, along with public safety, the defendant’s criminal background and the gravity of the offense.

    The money factor, Krasner said, is just an additional consideration.

    Research, he said, has consistently illustrated that shorter sentences for criminal offenders do not cause more crime. Instead, studies indicate that certainty of punishment — not the length of time spent behind bars — has a meaningful impact on deterring crime.

    Defense lawyer Michael Diamondstein said prosecutors, in recommending punishment to a judge, have an incredible amount of sway over a defendant’s life and liberty.

    The cost question will not please everyone, but he said it is about time the criminal justice system experiment with something new.

    “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Diamondstein said. “The worst thing that happens is that it makes no difference. But it may. It may make a judge or two stop and think what the actual cost is to sentencing someone.”

    With the help of money from the MacArthur Foundation, city officials have been working for the past few years to cut the prison population with the goal of a one-third reduction. But individual decisions by a judge are harder to influence. Krasner is hoping to give them a nudge.

    And if it does shorten sentences, Krasner said he is confident it will not spike violent crime.

    “We are not concerned that this is going to produce a zombie invasion of crime,” he said at the press conference earlier this month. “In fact, we consider it highly doubtful that people being arrested will even be aware this policy exists.”

    1. Jeff M

      David and others making the case of cost – cost of prosecution and cost of incarceration – is a proxy for their activism for criminals over the victims of crime.

      It is an interesting side they find themselves on.  While I agree that there is a need and a benefit for advocacy for the accused and the convicted, what I see is that we have a perfect DA.  One that already balances this well enough… more than well enough compared to other DAs across the state.

      This is the problem with folks like David that get their identity from their activism.   Remember that the Vanguard started as a vehicle for David to rail against the Davis PD after his wife’s political career was derailed from her activism as chair of the Davis Human Relations Commission.   The problem is frankly over-steer as these people keep looking for meaning… looking for something meaningful to do.

      Agitation for political cause used to be something we took time to do from our regular lives and then once a decision was made, we went back to our regular lives and would agitate again only at the time it became needed again.   Today we have a lot of people that become professional agitators.   They form and work for non-profits that attract funds that allow them to make a living doing what they do.  And many of them are constantly circling the political wagons looking for a chance to become an insider to the policy making so the can REALLY make a difference in their causes.

      David is a professional agitator and activist in this space.   That’s ok… we know that about him and he keeps this blog available to allow others to disagree with him.   However, his proxy is Johansson…. another professional agitator and activist wannabe that started circling the wagon trying to become an insider where he will wield power to implement his off ideas and make a name for himself.

      Maybe Johansson is not worth considering only for the fact that we have a near perfect DA already doing the job.   However, in my view we should always reject professional agitators and activists for political positions.  They come with their own personal agenda that would tend to corrupt the role of the job, and end up making a mess.

      1. Howard P

        David and others making the case of cost – cost of prosecution and cost of incarceration – is a proxy for their activism for criminals over the victims of crime.

        Tia, David, and others question whether some events/people should be judged “criminal”… in the common usage of that term… I understand, and agree that trivial transgressions should not be raised to misdemeanor or felony charges…

        Ex.:  why should a ‘rolling stop’ not be treated as a felony?  It has the potential of causing serious injury and possibly death (a car is a ‘lethal weapon’)… and is illegal…

        Who has not performed a “criminal act”, violating the law, and does that make us all “criminals”?

        Proportionality is the litmus test I’d use… the East Area Rapist (whether it is the accused or not), should be excluded from society forever… the guy who steals cheese, at most should have to perform community service equal to the value of the cheese plus processing costs… @ minimum wage… or, fed, at a minimum…

      2. Jim Hoch

        DA’s are rarely unseated unless there is a specific, easily understood, reason to vote them out. I do not believe the Dean forces have met that standard. Even with the endless anti-incumbent messaging here I am still unsure of what the reason to vote against Reisig is.

         

        People post about how there are more trials in Yolo than elsewhere. I’m not certain that is true, but even if it is, why should I or other people care? I have not seen a clear articulation of why it is harmful to try people and instead it’s more just to extort them into plea bargains.

         

        Reisig has also picked up the lion’s share of county endorsements. While a few Davis City politicians have endorse Dean the vast majority of county/state level politicos have endorsed Reisig. Endorsements are important as trailing indicators rather than leading ones. That is, people do not vote based on endorsements but most politicians want to endorse the winner. The broad endorsements mean that people with successful records of winning county races are betting on Reisig.

        1. Jim Hoch

          Yolo county is not Philadelphia.

          Likely it doesn’t matter anyway. My presumption is that Dean is just building name recognition and a supporter base for a further run at a different office. Being willing to step up for a suicide run at the DA gains him friends and allies which can be leveraged later.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “Yolo county is not Philadelphia.”

            Not a meaningful statement.

            “My presumption is that Dean is just building name recognition and a supporter base for a further run at a different office. ”

            You obviously don’t know Dean at all.

        2. Howard P

          The broad endorsements mean that people with successful records of winning county races are betting on Reisig.

          Yes, and betting on political races and other sporting events, may come to be legalized in CA… yet the betting, as you say, has been going on for years… and some (a lot?) of it (endorsements) is “quid pro quo”… ‘if I endorse you, and you win, you’ll endorse me, right?’

          In some situations, “quid pro quo” is morally repugnant, if not illegal…

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I think if you ask the campaign, the basic message is resonating with voters across the county

        3. Jim Hoch

          “I think if you ask the campaign” Good source of impartial information

           

          “the basic message is resonating with voters across the county” What is the message?

          1. Don Shor

            http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/Yolo%20voter%20reg%20totals.png
            I think Dean Johansson’s base of support is in Davis and in the more liberal end of the Democratic party. So looking at these statistics county-wide, I don’t see how he is likely to win when he’s up against an incumbent. The power of incumbency is such that I think even Ed Prieto has a solid chance of winning re-election.

        4. Jim Hoch

          I’m evaluating it based on Dean’s lack of a clear message that will inspire the average Yolo County voter.

           

          I’ve asked several times now what is wrong with jury trials and never received a clear answer to that either. Without a clear answer he cannot win.

           

           

          “If you don’t know that, how are you evaluating this race?”

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Maybe you can ask you question more clearly – what do you mean – “what is wrong with jury trials”?

        5. Ken A

          It is not just Jim waiting to hear the “message” that would prompt someone in Woodland or West Sac to vote against Reisig.

          I’m wondering if any of the big  Dean Johansson supporters can post this (or if they are like Jim waiting to hear it).

        6. Ken A

           

          Dean’s website is only clear to the people that know what “our values” means to Dean (in the same way that another candidate’s website was only clear to people that knew what “make America great” means to that other guy)…

          P.S. When he says he will “End Practices that Punish People for Being Poor” it shows he has no clue what he is talking about since no one in Yolo County has ever been “punished for being poor” (I will admit I am wrong if David can link to the case of someone currently in jail “just” because they were “poor”).  I was poor for most of my live and almost everything is worse when you are poor, you eat crappier food, you live in crappier apartments and you have crappier clothes (and get wet riding your bike in the rain since GoreTex is expensive).  You could say that “god punishes the poor” since every day life is tougher and unfortunately the way to make things better so there is no downside of being poor is to make the poor rich (so they can pay millions to hire a “dream team” every time they break the law).

        7. David Greenwald

          Punishing people because they are poor in part refers to the bail system which holds poor people in custody while people with more resources can bail out until their trial.  Many people end up spending considerable time in custody for offenses that will yield not jail time ultimately.

        8. Howard P

          Don, you’re petty much spot on as to chances (your 1 PM post), but a lot of the “NPP” folk are more than a bit liberal, but can’t stand the Democratic Party… that said, your conclusion is correct… THAT said, the name of the game isn’t to vote for the presumptive favorite… the more that vote for the challenger, the more likely that if the incumbent is re-elected, he will be more circumspect, and possibly change stances, looking out 4 years hence.

          In any event, am thinking it is an even money (or better) bet that the loser of the vote will no longer be a County employee a year from June.  This campaign has been too toxic, on both sides…

        9. Tia Will

          Jim

          So I am hearing you say that you think it is ok, or in Jeff’s words “near perfect” for a DA to let a methamphetamine dealer continue dealing and impregnating women in our  community, because it is your guy who chose that. I wonder how loud both of you would be howling if Dean Johansson had made that decision. Or charging a mentally ill or suicidal individual with felonies. “Near perfect”? Really?

        10. Jim Hoch

          Tia,

           

          Have you been drinking? Please show where I said anything like that or advocated for any candidate at all.

          “So I am hearing you say that you think it is ok, or in Jeff’s words “near perfect” for a DA to let a methamphetamine dealer continue dealing and impregnating women in our  community, because it is your guy who chose that.”

      3. David Greenwald Post author

        “David and others making the case of cost – cost of prosecution and cost of incarceration – is a proxy for their activism for criminals over the victims of crime.”

        reminds me of this: “Now defends child molesters, rapists and other violent criminals as a long-time defense attorney”

        I think Jeff doesn’t believe in the right to due process of law or vigorious defense.

        1. Howard P

          Due process is paramount…  no question, for me…

          Vigorous defense… more squishy… if you knew your client raped and killed many, would you vigorously try to get him acquitted of all charges?   Would that be “justice” if you succeeded?

          Just a game?  Contest?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You raise a point that is a key misconception…

            First, you rarely “know” – but most defense attorneys will take one of two points – first, argue for the insufficiency of the evidence and second, seek to reduce exposure/ culpability. For example, you may know that your client fired the weapon, but that’s not the end of the story. One question is whether it’s first degree murder, second, manslaughter – voluntary or involuntary. Most of the time, there are shades of culpability where the defense will lay their ground.

        2. Howard P

          And you raise a key point… not responding to a posit, as written…

          I posited multiple rapes and murder… you posited a single instance of a crime… for a single instance, I actually agree with you, and knew that, understood that, before you wrote that.

          Yet, you have skirted my posit, with a deflection, which you’ll never acknowlege…

          So, realizing we are not playing by the same rules/ethics, will concede…

           

        3. Jeff M

          I think Jeff doesn’t believe in the right to due process of law or vigorious defense.

          It is you that advocate for the DA to pick and chose the cases he would prosecute based on some cost-benefit analysis.  That is the essence of skirting due process.

          In terms of vigorous defense, what in the hell does Reisig have to do with that?   Your comment is nonsense.  It would be more factual to say that you don’t believe in vigorous prosecution.

      4. Ken A

        Almost everyone commits at least one crime a day (anyone that found a coin on the street and did not declare it as taxable income on their 1040 is a criminal) and a surprising number of people are felons (like the people who call in sick) without knowing it.

        https://mic.com/articles/86797/8-ways-we-regularly-commit-felonies-without-realizing-it#.bjBdbNL8H

        It is sad that we really do live in a  overcriminalized society where the “criminal justice industrial complex” sucks money out of the mostly poor and uneducated just like the “higher education industrial complex” looks for more and more ways to suck more and more money from the wealthy and educated and the “military industrial complex” sucks money from everyone.

        1. Howard P

          Over-stated, perhaps, but you find substantial agreement here… proportionality (I say again) is the key… and the reason why we should care who holds the keys

  5. Matt Rexroad

    After this piece can you finally admit you are a complete advocate for one candidate in this race and not an objective news source?

     

    Matt Rexroad

    (916) 539-0455

  6. David Greenwald Post author

    Comment submitted via email…

    Jim Hoch asked “What is wrong with jury trials?”

    When a jury pool is called of perhaps 50 people, many of whom are professionals and taking time off work at a great loss in total productivity, for a misdemeanor shop lifting case there is something wrong with the justice system in this county.
    1. Jim Hoch

      Interesting point David. Is the right to a jury trial the only one of our rights you want to eliminate based on convenience or is this the first of many? If the latter I suggest you take a close look at the ADA.

      My understanding this federal standard is a jury trial has to be an option for any criminal charge that carries a sentence of six months or more. The CA state standard may be different. Are you advocating for more trials before a judge? Most DAs run their offices for their own convenience which means pleading out as many cases as possible or just dropping anything that’s not a slam dunk. Neither path is the pursuit of justice but you seem to value convenience over all else.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        You’re misconstruing the point – the right to a jury is not one that anyone wants to eliminate. However, the frequency of jury trials is an indicator here. The crime rate in Yolo County is right in the middle of the pack in terms of per capita in other counties. So why would there be a higher trial rate? You could argue it’s the defense bar or the prosecution. What’s interesting is that at the Board of Supervisors meeting last week, Tracie Olson presented data showing that the trial rate was about the same for the PD’s office as it was for the conflict panel as it was for the private attorneys. So it does not appear to be the defense bar driving the differential.

        Instead, what it appears to be is that the DA’s office is overcharging cases and then not giving reasonable offers, forcing the case to trial. WHat else is interesting is that the acquittal rate for the PD’s office is 41 percent compared to 16 percent statewide – also an indicator that the DA is overcharging.

        Your questions demonstrate you are arguing this point and do not understand the fundamental issues.

        1. Jim Hoch

          David, your response shows you don’t understand my point. DAs run their office to maximize conviction rates. A casualty of this is often justice. Many crime victims are angry because the DA will drop their cases as if they believe they are less than 90% likely to win. On the other side of the coin DA’s will often pile on charges to get people to plead out but if the defendant does not plead out they will dramatically reduce the charges for the trial.

           

          I don’t either path as upholding justice. Back to my earlier example of oncologists, they have a terrible survival rate but that does not mean they are doing a bad job. I don’t see how the data you provide indicates anything.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            First of all, if that was your point, you didn’t state it… at all.

            Second, your point isn’t important. You asked “Is the right to a jury trial the only one of our rights you want to eliminate…” That fundamentally misstates the issue here.

  7. Tia Will

    “What is wrong with jury trials? “Why should I care”.

    1. If the individual charged is dangerous to the community – nothing

    2. If the individual is a cheese thief – a tremendous waste of time, money and diversion of resources from dealing with those in the community who are dangerous.

    3. You should care because it is your tax dollars that are going to trying and incarcerating those that were never any risk to you the community in the first place while dangerous individuals walk free.

  8. Jim Hoch

    “while dangerous individuals walk free” Interesting perspective. The Vanguard recently had an event where they honored someone who assisted two guys getting away with murder. They robbed and killed a guy and threw his body in the swamp. Yet the Vanguard thought this was a great thing. Would you include that in your comment about letting “dangerous individuals walk free”? Or do you believe that robbing and murdering people is NOT a sign of being “dangerous”?

    We have had a recent series of article by Jeff Adachi that have led to people being murdered. Yet that aspect of “while dangerous individuals walk free” has not seemed to warrant comment by you.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      This is an inaccuracy as well.

      First of all, the public defender only represented one of the guys – the other took a plea deal.

      Second, he was acquitted of robbery and the jury found he had committed the crime in self defense.

      1. Jim Hoch

        To restate, the victim was unarmed and the perps were both armed but went into the encounter with intent to commit armed robbery. The got nervous and murdered the guy. You think this is an award winning scenario.

        Interestingly the Sac cops were called to a house recently and mistook a lighter for a weapon and they also gunned down an unarmed guy. Are you going to be having an award night for the Sac Cops?

         

         

        1. David Greenwald

          To restate, no one knew that he was unarmed and he made a movement for his belt.  There is no evidence that there was an intent to commit armed robbery and the defendant was acquitted by a jury who listened to the evidence (unlike you).  Also we didn’t award anyone at our event, we simply asked public defenders to present their cases.

        2. Jim Hoch

          Sounds like the cops. “he made a movement for his belt.”

           

          To restate, no one knew that he was unarmed and he made a movement for his belt.  There is no evidence that there was an intent to commit armed robbery and the defendant was acquitted by a jury who listened to the evidence

  9. Tia Will

    Jim

    Once again you are misstating the issue. Rather obviously no one wants dangerous criminals free in our communities. It is not as though there are two camps, one advocating “law and order” and the other advocating “crime and chaos”. What we have are differing visions of what will provide the greatest amount of safety.

    Given a limited amount of personnel, time and resources, how do we best utilize them to achieve safe communities. I would argue that prevention is always the most cost effective approach. Therefore I would devote relatively more resources to this area. Secondly, I would prioritize and not use precious resources on minor crimes such as $3.99 bags of cheese when there are dangerous individuals in our community. I would never pursue a legally operating cannabis operation while making a deal with a known methamphetamine dealer. I would argue for not charging the mentally ill as felons but would opt instead for treatment for those who were not responsible for their actions while actively pursuing those who do deliberate harm to others.

    I do not want anyone to be harmed. What I believe is that the approach favored by Dean Johansson is likely to prove more cost effective ( note the emphasis on effective)  than that which has been practiced by Jeff Reisig, unopposed to the past decade.

    1. Howard P

      “safety” and “safe” are interesting constructs… and more than somewhat bogus… life is not ‘safe’… from conception to natural (or un-natural) death, no one is “safe”… or ‘secure’… without care… one’s well being can be affected by pre-natal drug use, abortion (non-medically necessary, often), parental abuse, availability of guns, drugs, sugary drinks, ‘murder’ by cops, murder by other, self murder, “crashes”, “stupids” (think we can all think of many, including petting a rattlesnake, swimmining where alligators/water moccassins live, etc.)

      IMHO, anyone who expects perfect “safety” from the world, is a delusinal idiot.  The best we can hope for, and aspire to, is reduction of risk…

    2. Jim Hoch

      Tia,

      You have no understanding of our legal system at all. “Rather obviously no one wants dangerous criminals free in our communities.” Defense attorneys do the best to free their clients from charges regardless if whether they are “dangerous criminals”. While there are certain issues if they are aware of a specific threat, “dangerous criminals” are entitled to a vigorous defense. 

      Note in the article I linked the other day they gave a dangerous criminal an OR and he killed someone the next day. Jeff Adachi’s response was “oh well”. And really that is a fair response as he has no duty to protect innocent bystanders, only to do the best for his client even if that means someone dies.

      1. David Greenwald

        A few years ago, the man who badly beat the son of Gloria Partida was released after posting $50,000 bail prior to nearly killing Gloria’s son.

        1. David Greenwald

          Couldn’t have said it better myself: “no comprendo”…

          Here goes and probably my last time engaging with you as I find this fruitless.  For the other readers.

          Jim keep’s pointing out the guy who was released in SF and ended up being part of a murder.  That’s not a good situation, but my point is that there is no functional difference between OR and bail in terms of ensuring someone won’t commit a new crime.  The study I posted a link to actually found that what Jim is citing is a rare exception.  And supervised OR is actually a higher level of supervision than bail.  So Jim is throwing out a red herring, on De again, with no real understanding for what he’s arguing and he’s non-responsive when called on anything, which is pretty much why I’m going to stop wasting my time.

        2. Jim Hoch

          David, That was not my point. I was responding to Tia’s statement “Rather obviously no one wants dangerous criminals free in our communities.”

          I was not (in this post anyway_ criticizing Adachi for letting the guy out or indeed for the bail issue. It was a response to Tia that defense attorney’s do not have any concern whether they aid Dangerous Criminals to commit further crimes or not.

          Apologies if I was unclear but she has posted versions of this statement repeatedly and it is just not true.

           

  10. Eric Gelber

    [A defense attorney] has no duty to protect innocent bystanders, only to do the best for his client even if that means someone dies.

    Jim and Howard both seem to have a problem with defense attorneys vigorously defending their clients—i.e., acting ethically and doing their jobs. Let me point out that neither the defense attorney nor the DA decides who is released on bail nor sets the bail amount. That’s the judge’s job. The attorneys merely argue their positions on behalf of their clients. Defense attorneys also don’t render verdicts or determine sentences. The system doesn’t work and justice is not served if one side is tacitly colluding by, in effect, shaving points.

    1. Howard P

      With all due respect, my comments were nuanced… I posited one example, David deflected with another… I also agreed with David’s posit…

      However there are some ‘clients’ … OJ had great defense… skated… do you honestly believe that although he was acquitted, OJ was “innocent”?  ‘Justice’ was served?  I don’t.

      So, we come back to whether ‘justice’ is actually “a game”… and I have come to believe that many (majority?) attorneys hold that opinion, deeply…

      1. David Greenwald

        I believe that OJ Simpson likely committed a crime and that the prosecution failed to prove their case before yong a reasonable doubt.  In that way, I believe that justice was served.

      2. Eric Gelber

        Are you suggesting OJ’s attorney’s should have put on a weaker case in the interest of justice? There are no guarantees. Some guilty people are acquitted; many innocent people are convicted. But if attorneys on either side don’t do their best to represent their client within the bounds of ethics and the law, they are failing in their responsibility and the process is unjust.

    2. Jim Hoch

      Eric, Not sure where you got that idea. My comments were strictly in response to Tia’s comment “Rather obviously no one wants dangerous criminals free in our communities.”.

      As I observed defense attorneys are not at all concerned about that and can be sanctioned, including disbarment, for pursuing less than a vigorous defense even if they have reason to suspect the defendant is a continued danger to the public.

      I made no value judgement on whether this system was ideal or not.

       

       

  11. David Greenwald

    I’ll make the same point I have at other times, vigorous defense does not always include a claim of innocence.  Sometimes it is arguing that the proof beyond a reasonable doubt has not been met.  That is the standard by which I believe the Simpson case needs to be judged.  Sometimes it is arguing for reduced culpability.  That said I do think that defense attorneys jobs are to ensure their clients are properly represented rather than other considerations.

    1. Ron

      I recall allegations of racial overtones in the Simpson judgement (and reaction, to it).  And, that reaction (based upon skin color) was even addressed in a “cut-away gag”, in a popular cartoon (Family Guy).

      Yeah, I’m a cartoon-watcher. Some of the funniest, best writing can be found on cartoons. (Sorry – “animation”.)

      The allegation was somewhat akin to one of “reverse racism”, for lack of a better word. (Not sure what “forward racism” is.)

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