Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Howland: A lifetime of experience can never outweigh ethical lapses

The forum for candidates for Lake County district attorney, held at the courthouse on May 14, quickly turned into an evaluation of the eight-year tenure of current District Attorney Don Anderson, now a candidate for Superior Court judge. The forum gave very good insight to voters about who their choice for Judge should be.

The forum’s overarching discussion was about the numerous ethical lapses made by District Attorney Don Anderson. It covered his very questionable alternative sentencing program, which allowed those with money to buy their way out of community service, with the money, up to $270,000, going to local charities of Mr. Anderson’s choosing alone. Both current DA candidates, Steve Brown and Susan Krones, are not comfortable with this program and would stop it immediately.

In 2016, Anderson set up a special perjury unit which, to date, has only resulted in three convictions, despite Mr. Anderson’s claim of nine. Are taxpayers getting a return on this focused “unit” when perjury can and should be prosecuted through normal resources?

Additionally, it was discussed that during his tenure as DA, Mr. Anderson did not treat his position as a full-time commitment, leading to his mismanagement of the DA’s Office. He carried on a private law practice in other counties using the phone number, office premises and a car, all paid for by Lake County taxpayers.

There were also allegations of him giving preferential treatment to certain defendants, including a specific incident that was truly disturbing.

Delays, improper filings and/or notifications, refusing to refile dismissed cases because of errors on the part of the district attorney, all cost taxpayers. One particular example in 2014 led to an individual who ran a sophisticated drug operation getting back hundreds of seized guns that enriched the criminal and endangered public safety.

Mr. Anderson is basing his candidacy for judge almost entirely on his experience. But how much experience does a candidate for judge need to have to overcome years of perceived ethical violations?

In my book, a lifetime of experience can never outweigh ethical lapses – especially when it comes to a judge. Let’s elect a judge who brings new ideas, works hard and make us proud every day. A leopard doesn’t change his spots.

Shirley Howland lives in Clearlake, Calif.

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