VOICES: DA Race From David Prendergast
Dear Two Rivers Tribune,
In June, Humboldt County voters will make a critically important decision–who will serve as their District Attorney. A successful D.A. must bring commitment, ability, experience, intellect, judgment, and non-partisan temperament to the office to provide the professional competence that the job requires, and that the public deserves.
For 32 years I have defended persons accused of crimes from Humboldt to Riverside, including death penalty cases. I am admitted to practice law in all of the Courts in the State of California, including all Federal District Courts; the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals; the Supreme Court of the United States; and the U.S. Veteran’s Court of Claims.
In 2008 I was named by my coworkers and superiors as Public Defender of the Year for the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office, an office with approximately 131 attorneys.
These are my personal views about prosecutors and District Attorneys.
Prosecutors must seek justice and ensure a full and fair process that will reach a just result based on the facts and law in each case. An effective prosecutor requires administering and applying both the substantive and procedural aspects of the law in a fair and impartial manner.
Only extensive professional experience at all levels can prepare a District Attorney to lead.
I know first-hand the importance of having cases administered and tried by experienced and knowledgeable attorneys, both prosecutors and defense counsel. The position of District Attorney requires extensive administrative experience within the legal system and many years of prosecutorial trial work.
The District Attorney must know: Federal and California criminal statutory and case law; Superior Court rules and procedures; criminal and civil law principles and procedures, and their application; rules of evidence; and principles and techniques of legal research.
The D.A. must be able to: analyze and apply legal principles and practices; prepare, and prosecute criminal and civil cases; interview witnesses and complainants; advocate a wide range of criminal and/or civil cases; review motions, orders, pleadings and other legal documents; present statements of fact, law and argument clearly and logically both orally and in writing; grasp the logistics of trials — implementing practices and procedures to ensure that discovery is both timely and complete in each case to limit delays in trial preparation and conclusion; and establish and maintain effective relationships with County agencies, including, but not limited to, law enforcement.
Finally, the District Attorney has to be able to recruit, teach and motivate junior prosecutors to do all of the above.
Humboldt County is faced with challenges, some of them the mundane problems of every California county, others more uniquely those of the North Coast. Each challenge profoundly affects individuals, families, and the community. The D.A. is someone who can make a significant difference in the community he or she serves—with very real quality of life impact on residents.
Based on my years of experience, I urge my neighbors and fellow citizens to consider carefully what it takes to be the District Attorney, weigh all the available facts objectively, meet as many candidates as you can, ask questions, consider answers, and decide wisely.
Sincerely,David A. Prendergast
Former Deputy Public Defender