Bar Complaints Filed against SF DA Jenkins for Dishonesty Related to Prosecutorial Misconduct, Nonprofit Payments

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

San Francisco, CA – Retired Superior Court Judge Martha Goldin filed a complaint with the State Bar of California against interim San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, alleging that Jenkins violated State Bar Rules and the Business and Professions Code through acts of dishonesty.

According to a release, the complaint filed by Judge Goldin, who authored a leading opinion on legal ethics and attorney misconduct, alleges that Jenkins’ portrayal of her employment by three nonprofit 501(c)(3) entities with connections to her claimed “volunteer” position with the recall has been dishonest, deceitful, and either reckless or intentional misinterpretations.

Judge Goldin also alleges that “Jenkins has been dishonest when claiming that she has never been found guilty of misconduct despite a Court having found that she has committed misconduct in the prosecution of a case during her time as Assistant District Attorney. State Bar Rules prohibit attorneys, including those holding office, from dishonest conduct.”

“One of the most fundamental duties of attorneys, enshrined in various statutes and California State Bar Rules, is to be honest.  This duty is particularly essential for a District Attorney, who represents ‘The People’ in Court,” said retired Judge Goldin, who served on the bench for 16 years. “We ‘The People’ must have faith that this representative, and all other representatives, will carry out their duties honestly and truthfully.”

In the complaint, the judge notes that, prior to resigning from her job over a disagreement in a prosecution of a mentally ill man, Jenkins failed to turn over to the defense “a heap of evidence that included handwritten notes from a police inspector and video footage.”

This failure, Goldin alleges, “led to the dismissal and refiling of the case and extensive internal review by the District Attorney’s office of all cases she had been working on.”

Jenkins in an October 2021 interview with San Francisco Chronicle reporter Heather Knight, said that her next job would be “volunteering for the campaign to recall her former boss.”

Between October 2021 and June 7, 2022, Jenkins “identified herself as a volunteer.”

However, while claiming to be a “volunteer” Gold alleges, “Jenkins chose to withhold from the public information regarding over $173,000 in payments she received from the nonprofit entities until she was legally required to do so.”

Last month, she publicly stated, “In retrospect, I would never have wanted to mislead people,” seemingly acknowledging that she did mislead the public about her paid and “volunteer” work.

The connection between the non-profit Neighbors For a Better San Francisco, a 501c3 and an organization of the same name, registered as a 501c4 raised many questions in the media and the public.

As the complaint notes, “Both entities were incorporated on the same day, March 11, 2021 and share the same attorney, Secretary and CFO. William Oberndorf, the President and a Director of Neighbors 501(c)(3), also serves as a Director of Neighbors 501(c)(4), which contributed $4.5 million of the total $7.2 million raised for the recall.”

The release notes, “Jenkins’ unseemly entanglement with the 501(c)(3) entities has also raised questions as to whether the payments she received were an unlawful indirect contribution to the recall campaign – which would constitute an IRS violation and would have required that Jenkins register as a campaign consultant with the San Francisco Ethics Commission. “

Further, they add, “Failure to register as a paid campaign consultant is a violation of San Francisco’s Campaign and Conduct Code and could result in criminal enforcement. The District Attorney is solely responsible for prosecuting these violations.”

According to the release, Jenkins has also misrepresented her office’s role in prosecuting ethics ordinance violations.

She claimed that her office does not “fully conduct those investigations.”

The release also claims, she “deceptively claimed attorney client privilege, despite not legally representing any of the 501(c)(3)s, to justify her refusal to produce retainer agreements or job descriptions for her work to prove that the 501(c)(3) payments were not unlawful indirect contributions to the recall campaign.”

In 2016, a San Francisco appellate court reversed convictions in a case then Assistant District Attorney Jenkins prosecuted as a result of prosecutorial misconduct by Jenkins.

The appellate court found that Jenkins was guilty of a form of misconduct known as Griffin error, when a prosecutor violates constitutional protections by improperly commenting to the jury on a defendant’s failure to testify.

On September 13, 2022 at a district attorney candidate debate, Jenkins untruthfully declared, “I want to make clear first and foremost never have I ever been found to have committed misconduct in a case.”

“Instead of the honesty required of her as a member of the State Bar of California, Brooke Jenkins has engaged in numerous dishonest and deceitful acts over the several months preceding and during her tenure as interim San Francisco District Attorney,” said Goldin. “Jenkins’ violation of both State Bar Rules and the Business and Professions Code necessitates a State Bar investigation and sanctions to hold her to account for this misconduct.”

The State Bar of California reviews all complaints against attorneys and unlicensed legal providers to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted.

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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15 Comments

  1. Keith Olson

    Judge Goldin also alleges that “Jenkins has been dishonest when claiming that she has never been found guilty of misconduct despite a Court having found that she has committed misconduct in the prosecution of a case during her time as Assistant District Attorney. State Bar Rules prohibit attorneys, including those holding office, from dishonest conduct.”

    Boy o boy, doesn’t that ring loud in the current Davis political climate.   So David, where do you come down on this one?  Methinks you’ll want it both ways, but we’ll see.

  2. Walter Shwe

    I am happy that Jenkins is now in deep trouble stemming from her misconduct and outright lies. Now she is even more unfit than ever to be elected  SF DA.

    1. Keith Olson

      Deep trouble?  Surely you jest.  She’s in no trouble.  This retired judge appears to be a Boudin supporter, so does this come as any surprise?

      Regarding “Boudin recall has had key moments” (Bay Area & Business, May 8): The opinion of 17 retired California judges should be considered a fact of significant moment. Collectively, we, the below signatories have more than 250 years of judicial experience. We believe the District Attorney Chesa Boudin should be given a full term to demonstrate how his programs will benefit the city, safety and law enforcement.
      The recall campaign against him is not justified and should be rejected by the voters.
      Demetrios Agretelis, William Cahill, Ellen Chaitin, George Choppelas, LaDoris Cordell, John Dearman, David Garcia, Martha Goldin, Joseph Grodin, Harlan Grossman, Richard Hodge, Ken Kawaichi, Tomar Mason, Kevin McCarthy, James Robertson, Julie Tang, Daniel Weinstein

      https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/letterstotheeditor/article/Letters-17-retired-judges-oppose-the-recall-of-17166320.php

    1. Keith Olson

      David, here’s a response that was posted under this tweet from SF Justice Reform:

       

      SF Justice Reform

      @SFJusticeReform

      ·
      2h

      Replying to
      @JuliePitta

      Goldin is listed as an Endorser of John Hamasaki’s campaign, and donated the statutory max of $500 to him. And, oh look, so did Julie Pitta. But no, this isn’t a coordinated campaign action or anything…

        1. Keith Olson

          If the SF Justice Reform tweet is accurate don’t you think the “timing” is suspicious especially coming from an endorser of and donater to Jenkin’s opponent?

        2. Keith Olson

          You know what’s so hypocritical about this, if the tables were turned and this was happening to one of your chosen Progressive DA candidates on the eve of an election by a supposed supporter of one of their opponents this and your article today would read totally different.

          Can you at least admit that?

          1. David Greenwald

            It appears to me that the allegations are accurate. You haven’t spent one second in your many comments disputing that. You have simply focused on who is making those allegations and the timing of the complaint. I asked you when they should have filed the complaint and you couldn’t even address that. Unless you can make a credible argument that the allegations are false, it is immaterial who filed the complaint or their motivation.

  3. Keith Olson

    Judge Goldin served as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge for fourteen years, and was also a Supervising Judge of the Superior Court probate departments. Goldin previously spoke out in supportof former DA Chesa Boudin back in December, after it was made public that another judge hadchastised the DA’s office in open court and accused Boudin of mismanagement — something that the judge, Bruce Chan, later apologized for.

    https://sfist.com/2022/10/14/retired-judge-files-state-bar-complaint-against-sf-district-attorney-brooke-jenkins-citing-dishonest-conduct/

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