Friday, 12 July 2024

Anderson: Responding to allegations about performance, ethics

For the past several months the people in the District Attorney’s Office have had to listen to the ridicule coming out of the district attorney’s race. Now in a letter to the editor by Shirley Howland she repeats the misguided allegations of one candidate.

I have stayed out of this race and tried to let the candidates sell themselves to the public. However, now instead of running on their own merits, they not only attack me, but also attack the good people that work at the DA’s Office. Below is my response to the allegations.

The Alternative to Community Service program is similar to a program out of Pueblo, Colorado. Rather than do community service out of state or county, which does not benefit Lake County, a defendant is allowed to make a contribution to a Lake County charity.

With this program, I have been able to put tens of thousands of meals in front of hungry families, shoes on children that cannot afford them, give money the seniors, veterans, women shelters and others. A total of about 77 charities or nonprofits have shared about $250,000. The list is available at the DA’s Office at any time.

Allegations are that I give preferential treatment to certain people; however, no examples are given so it is hard to respond. There are strict laws governing conflicts which are monitored and strictly adhere to. No family, friends or others have ever received special treatment. As with all employees I am walled off of a case with a conflict or the case is handled by the state attorney general.

The letter says I have a private law practice out of county and I do not work full time. In the seven and a half years here I have helped four friends, for free, when they could not afford an attorney. This is within county policy.

I have an average 50-hour work week and more if I am in trial. In seven and a half years as the district attorney I have never taken a vacation of more than two days and have never once called in sick.

The letter and candidate claim I mismanage cases and talk of only two or three cases. Since I have been DA there have been about 45,000 cases come through this office. I’m sure that there have been many cases where errors were made, but not the ones the candidate mentioned.

In a marijuana cultivation case, I had to sign a release stating none of the 100 legal guns had any evidentiary value. There is no law allowing us to keep legal guns from legal owners.

Lastly, the candidate and letter claims there is no need for a perjury intervention unit and it is a waste of taxpayer money. First, there is no extra taxpayer costs incurred by this unit.

The letter claims we should let perjury prosecution follow the normal course. But before the unit, the normal course has been one prosecution in about 50 years, and none in civil or family court. Since the establishment of the unit we have filed eight cases, six have been adjudicated and two are pending trial. There are several others still being investigated.

This unit also has an educational component to it. We will often address mediation classes and lecture litigants regarding perjury. The reports we get back from the courts and staff is that there is a substantial difference, which proves the effectiveness of the unit. It appears the only ones opposed to the perjury unit are those that lie in court or are running for office.

The people working for the District Attorney’s Office have been doing a great job for many years and should be recognized for their hard work and achievements and not ridiculed with false allegations for political purposes.

Don Anderson is district attorney of Lake County, Calif., and also a candidate for Superior Court judge.

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