Thursday, 13 June 2024

Anderson: DA’s Office needs to keep up with the changing times

I have been watching the race for district attorney with great interest. I was the elected district attorney for eight years between 2011 and 2019. I have worked with and against both candidates for many years and know them well.

There has been talk about the importance of prosecutorial experience. However, this type of experience does not make the person. What makes an effective DA is that person’s knowledge, common sense, life experience and the ability to understand people.

We live in a different time in the criminal justice system. The old ways of doing things simply are not effective anymore. I am very disheartened to see that many of the accomplishments and effective programs I established while DA have been canceled under the current administration.

As some examples, I created a “perjury unit,” the first ever in the United States, that not only investigated and prosecuted perjury in criminal, civil and family law matters, but also educated litigants about the consequences of perjury. The unit had remarkable success and was recognized throughout the country and was making a difference in our courtrooms. This entire program was abolished after I left.

We established diversion programs that taught life skills to low level criminal defendants. This also was a great success. That program was also canceled.

We created a unique-to-California alternative to community service program that raised over $250,000 for local charities while still securing convictions for the underlying crimes. That program was abolished immediately when the new DA was sworn in.

The DA’s Office purchased a 3-D crime scene scanner and trained investigators and law enforcement in its use. The costs of the machine and training exceeded $200,000 and came only from seized drug money. This was a state-of-the-art crime scene tool which was a great benefit in investigating and prosecuting major crimes. That machine has since been sold to the road department for pennies on the dollar.

I started a program that aggressively investigated and prosecuted human trafficking, which included sting operations. This aggressive way of dealing with human trafficking of women is now almost non-existent.

Additionally, the conviction rate in jury trials have drastically dropped in the past three years.

I am fearful that reverting to the old school ways of operating a DA’s Office is not an effective way of seeking justice. We need to keep up with the changing times to aggressively fight crime in Lake County. For all these reasons I am endorsing Anthony Farrington for district attorney.

Don Anderson lives in Lakeport, California.

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