Monday, 30 November 2020

Hinchcliff named to DA's No. 2 spot


Jon Hopkins, who took the oath of office on Dec. 29, has named Richard Hinchcliff as his new chief deputy district attorney.

Hinchcliff, who earlier this year successfully prosecuted Paul Smiraglia for the 2002 murder of Diedre Coleman, officially takes over the role Jan. 2.

Hopkins said the job was opened to a competitive process within the DA's Office, and Hinchcliff and one other prosecutor applied.

When the other candidate found out that Hinchcliff had put his hat in the ring, Hopkins said he removed his name from consideration, saying Hinchcliff was the perfect person for the role.

“That seems to be pretty much the universal thinking, that I've made the right decision,” Hopkins said.

A county native, Hinchcliff has been with the DA's Office since 1995. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from U.C. Davis and obtained his law degree from Empire School of Law in Santa Rosa.

He worked in private practice and as a misdemeanor public defender in Judge Arthur Mann's court for three and a half years before former district attorney – now judge – Steve Hedstrom hired him in 1995. Luck promoted Hinchcliff to senior deputy district attorney in 1999.

An avid outdoorsman, Hinchcliff has, over the past several years, also distinguished himself through prosecuting poaching cases. His successes include prosecuting a fisherman in 2004 who caught 147 crappie – 122 fish over the limit – and paid fines totaling $8,578.

Additionally, in 2006 he prosecuted a case in which two Bay Area men were placed on three years' probation, lost their hunting privileges for three years, paid fines of more than $5,000 and forfeited weapons because they were convicted of poaching a deer.

His wife, Denise, is a DA's Office investigator. He has three children – Kacie, 17; Brent, 6; and Brooke, 2.

"I have tried to work hard the past 11 years to do my job as a prosecutor to the best of my abilities,” Hinchcliff said. “It is sad for me to see Gary Luck retiring, as he has been a good friend and a mentor to me for the past 11 years. I plan on working dilligently with Jon Hopkins as his chief deputy to continue the efforts of our office to protect people from crime and to ensure that our office maintains a high ethical standard while doing so.”

Hopkins said he and Hinchcliff will work closely to decide how to assign cases. In particular, they need to address the issue of not having enough prosecutors with the experience needed to handle difficult homicide prosecution, he said.

“I am looking forward to continuing to work with our current staff of 12 deputy DA's,” Hinchcliff said. “We have a real good group of prosecutors in the office now who work long hours to protect the public and who work well with each other. I think Lake County is lucky to have the kind of people currently working as prosecutors, investigators and clerical staff in the DA's Office.”

Hopkins also confirmed that outgoing District Attorney Gary Luck will stay on in a part-time capacity to work on juvenile prosecution.

“A few years ago he started handling the juvenile court assignment and then stayed in it. So he's been our juvenile court lawyer for the past two years,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins' office includes 14 prosecutors – besides himself – with the possibility of another two positions opening up through grants.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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