Monday Morning Thoughts: Did Jenkins Just Bring Back a Notorious Former Prosecutor?

Recall debate from March featuring Brooke Jenkins and Don Du Bain

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

San Francisco, CA – Attorney John Hamasaki tweeted on Friday, “as predicted, Brooke Jenkins brought back notorious dirty prosecutor Don du Bain. Famous for cheating to win a murder case, just like his new boss. No way we can let this happen to San Francisco.”

If true, Jenkins joins forces with Du Bain who also left the SF DA’s office and joined the recall effort.

Hamasaki is referring to allegations that both prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence in murder cases.

For Jenkins it was reported last week in the San Francisco Standard on a “clear failure” to disclose evidence in a murder case she oversaw.

Records obtained by The Standard show notes that “contained leads to potential witnesses who could have helped the defense. The new evidence, which did not emerge until the eve of trial after another prosecutor took over the case, prompted Jenkins’ former supervisors to dismiss the case and restart the prosecution.”

Apparently the findings led Boudin’s office to launch a review of her past work to determine whether there were similar problems.  That squares with what I heard when she resigned from the office and sided with the recall, though no one at that time was willing to give us enough to pursue.

Jenkins admitted her error in the 2019 murder case—the same year as Carter-Bibbs, but defended her conduct as prosecutor, arguing that she “has never been found to have committed misconduct throughout her entire career.”

I suppose that’s true since no one ever took the Carter-Bibbs matter to the state bar, in part I suppose because Carter-Bibbs was acquitted and therefore any conduct would have been deemed harmless.

“I hold myself and everyone in our office to the highest ethical standards,” Jenkins said. “The public deserves and expects we operate with integrity to advance justice, and our office delivers on that promise daily.”

A spokesperson for Jenkins’s office, Randy Quezada, said in a statement that “nothing ever came to light of the review” launched by Boudin’s office.

“​​I made an error during discovery, the judge did not find that the omission was intentional, or that any misconduct had occurred, and the case continued forward,” Jenkins said in a statement. “I find it odd that nearly a year after I resigned from the office that my integrity is now being questioned because of a mistake that had no material impact on the case.”

But what should be concerning to observers is this: “Quezada said that instead of dropping the case and recharging Penn, Boudin’s office could have argued that the previously undisclosed evidence was not significant enough to harm the defense and require a dismissal.”

In other words, the spokesperson is defending prosecutorial misconduct and signaling that the Interim DA will allow her prosecutors to make similar mistakes without serious consequences.  That’s what has gotten us into this mess to begin with.

As noted previously in the Vanguard, our first trial in San Francisco was the Carter-Bibbs trial, where the prosecutor, Brooke Jenkins, was caught on video attempting to coach a young witness.

If anything, the case of Don du Bain might be more egregious—it certainly had greater consequences and documentation.

Once upon a time, Don du Bain was in fact the elected DA of Solano County.  He served there for more than ten years when, in 2013, he was defeated for reelection following a scandal involving a murder trial.

Reported the San Francisco Examiner in a 2015 article, “The Solano County scandal, in which du Bain’s office allegedly failed to properly disclose evidence during a trial, raises questions about his ethics.”

“The issue of prosecutors who violate their duty to provide evidence of innocence is extremely troubling,” said SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who died in 2019. “It’s a scourge on our criminal justice system. We’ve asked the courts to adopt a policy of requiring prosecutors to state on the record whether they have complied with Brady. We haven’t heard back.”

He ended up in San Francisco because du Bain was hired by the DA’s office under George Gascón.

Writes the Examiner: “When the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office hired du Bain, it knew about his record. The office also hired one of the attorneys at the center of the scandal that du Bain can’t seem to leave behind.”

They added, “Andrew Ganz, along with du Bain, was chastised by a judge in Solano County for alleged misconduct surrounding a murder trial, according to court documents. Yet those past misdeeds did not impact their hiring.”

The charges here are serious with Ganz, for instance, who “unsuccessfully tried to change the testimony of then-Coroner Susan Hogan in Daniels’ murder case regarding whether Brastow’s death was a homicide.”

Du Bain’s office “also failed to disclose exculpatory evidence in the case regarding the autopsy notes and audio, along with his meeting with the coroner.”

The Examiner reported, “While both former Solano County prosecutors have clear disciplinary records with the state bar, the Solano County judge severely chastised them for their actions in a controversial murder trial that was linked to a coroner scandal that in part cost du Bain his job.”

Solano County Superior Court Judge Daniel Healy reportedly “held an evidentiary hearing on the matter of disclosure and issued a blistering opinion aimed squarely at Ganz and his boss.”

Indeed, the judge’s opinion “also fell harshly on du Bain and the Solano County Sheriff.”

“Their abject failure to adequately handle and discipline these materials is troubling, and their public effort to blame each other for what was a joint obligation is nothing short of disgraceful,” wrote Healy.

That’s who Jenkins apparently has brought back to San Francisco.  Then again, given her history, it perhaps should not be surprising.

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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