Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Farrington: Asking for your vote

It was once proclaimed that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.” I am proud to be born and raised in Lake County with family roots that go back more than 160 years.

I often think about how Lake County looked back then; and how our county has evolved over the years both in terms of positive and negative changes. No one can deny the natural beauty and splendor of our county; however, below this beautiful surface lies a criminal element that for many residents and victims has become unbearable.

According to recent crime reports published by the FBI (Uniform Crime Reports 2019, 2020) the cities of Lakeport and Clearlake have one of the highest per capita crime rates in the state of California. In addition, we are now experiencing growth in crime in Middletown and surrounding areas. The Public Policy Institute of California “PPIC” reported that Lake County has one of the highest arrest rates in the state.

Make no mistake, these haunting statistics have not been shared by me during this election to cast a shadow on our local law enforcement and their efforts. In fact, quite the opposite. I believe that our officers and deputies are doing their best by making the necessary arrests with limited staffing and resources.

However, like many members of law enforcement, I believe that we can do more to hold criminals accountable, and do more to invest in public safety which is necessary in order to turn the tide on crime.

Throughout this election Susan Krones has relentlessly beat the political drum stating that she is a “prosecutor,” and that I am just a politician; however, she is the only candidate flaunting political endorsements which means she is the only candidate who will owe political favors.

Another red flag for voters is the fact that despite her 29 years of experience as a prosecutor she has not received one formal endorsement from law enforcement. For these reasons, I could no longer remain idle and decided that I wanted to do something to effect change.

In 2020, the DA’s office had eight felony jury trials, but only had five jury convictions which resulted in a 62% conviction rate.

In 2021, the DA’s office had nine felony jury trials, but had only five jury convictions which resulted in a dismal 55% conviction rate. The state average for jury trial convictions for DA offices throughout the state exceeds 80%.

I believe that poor management and the fact that prosecutors are frequently confirming three to four jury trials for the same day are two major reasons for these low conviction rates. Having a single prosecutor confirm multiple jury trials for the same day puts the law on the side of the criminals instead of on the side of victims.

Due to this trial stacking, prosecutors are not able to properly immerse themselves into the fine details and nuances of a case that is required for successful litigation. In addition, the prosecutor’s time and resources are being juggled and divided in order to properly prepare their witnesses and build their case for each trial.

Setting multiple trials also adversely affects a prosecutor’s competency while raising ethical considerations; and places the DA’s office at a greater disadvantage when it comes to plea bargain negotiations — a prosecutor is often required to settle his or her cases on the same day of trial. Victims deserve to have a prosecutor who is focused solely on their case when preparing for a trial.

In addition, same day settlements waste scarce court and tax resources; and are a major inconvenience for members of the public who are called for jury duty. This must change.

The DA has the ability to end same day settlements, and by implementing such a policy, defense counsel; court staff; and jurors will know when a case is going to trial; and more importantly, the assigned prosecutor will be preparing for only one trial instead of multiple trials.

As your next DA, I will implement this policy and other policies that will bring predictability; competency; and raise the conviction rate to above 80 percent.

Ms. Krones’ years of experience does not mean that she is necessarily competent and possessed of good judgment. For example, Ms. Krones has pushed for a number of plea deals that shock the conscience, and quite candidly are an embarrassment to crime victims and their families.

On March 13, 2021, Keilah Coyle killed two people outside of Middletown while driving intoxicated at almost twice the legal limit. Ms. Krones agreed to reduce multiple felony counts and charges against the defendant in an open plea deal that resulted in a sentence of three years of probation with time served and substance abuse treatment.

Ms. Coyle should have been sent to prison. At a recent debate, Ms. Krones deflected and had the audacity to put the blame at the feet of Judge Andrew Blum, a judge who is known to be hard on crime.

Ms. Krones also recently reached a plea deal of “probation only” and no prison time in a child pornography case for Jeffery Cramer who possessed and produced tribute videos of child pornography. Thankfully, Judge Shanda Harry rejected this asinine plea deal and subsequently sentenced Mr. Cramer to two years in prison.

In addition, in 2020 Ms. Krones pushed for a plea deal of “probation only” for Krystina Pickersgill who sold multiple Lake County teenage girls for sex, despite Judge J. David Markham having already rejected such a horrific plea deal. One of the teenage victims stated in court that she had “true feelings of disgust with the justice system …”

At our last debate Ms. Krones placed blame on Judge Harry, and also former District Attorney Don Anderson who had previously presented the same plea deal that was rejected by Judge J. David Markham.

Unlike Ms. Krones who has advocated and pushed for “probation only” sentences for child sex trafficking cases and child pornography cases, I will end these “probation only” plea deals and vigorously prosecute these perpetrators that harm our children.

I will also end all sentencing bargaining for crimes of murder, rape, child molest; and arson. All of these criminal matters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law and maximum sentences will be requested.

Ms. Krones talks about her experience, but for political reasons she conveniently discounts my approximate 200 court trials and my state and federal jury trial experience.

In addition, she conveniently leaves out my 16 years of experience as a county supervisor where I provided budget oversight over the DA’s office, the sheriff’s department, the jail, Probation Department and Juvenile Hall.

Ms. Krones provides no solutions or leadership on how to combat the crime that continues to plague our community; nor does she provide any leadership to increase her office’s low conviction rate while under her watch. She offers no solutions to enhance the pay of deputy DAs and reduce staff turnover.

In addition, she has failed to implement adequate office technology which has resulted in police officers from Clearlake being required to hand deliver written reports and evidence instead of using technology that would allow remote delivery so that the officers can remain on the streets and patrol instead of serving as a mail courier.

I know that by talking about the high criminal rate, the low conviction rate and my voiced concerns about the lack of the organization in the DA’s office may have caused some indigestion for staff, in particular Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

With that being said, I appreciate Mr. Hinchcliff’s years of dedicated public service as a DA; and despite his political motivations and hard feelings I would like the opportunity to work with him in order to better enhance operations, increase office efficiencies and increase the conviction rate.

Unlike many people, I am not one to hold personal grudges, and I truly believe that serving the residents and victims of our community is more important than petty politics and/or personal disagreements.

I also want to publicly congratulate Mr. Hinchcliff for his state award where he was named “Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year” due to his zealous efforts by going after illegal game hunters and poachers.

If elected, I will work hard to hopefully inspire Mr. Hinchcliff, and/or other deputy DAs to one day receive a similar award for prosecuting child molesters, rapists and/or criminals that perpetrate domestic violence against women and children.

It probably goes without saying that the constant barrage of letters to the editor submitted by Ms. Krones and her inner circle of supporters are demonstrative of signs of desperation and a clear concern that my message and platform for change is resonating with the voters.

Unlike Ms. Krones, I do not blame the voters for her lack of holding criminal defendants accountable; nor do I place blame at the feet of our hardworking judges.

In this election, I am asking the voters to see past all the orchestrated distractions and political attacks and focus on what this election is really about.

It’s really quite simple, the voters have two candidates with different experience and professional backgrounds to choose from — one candidate who believes that our high crime statistics, low conviction rates and felony “probation only” plea deals are acceptable, and another candidate who believes that the status quo and “more of the same” is abhorrent and no longer tolerable.

I am confident that the voters of this great county will see through all the distractions and personal attacks and vote for the latter.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

Anthony Farrington lives in Lakeport, California.

Upcoming Calendar

05.21.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
05.22.2024 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Lake Leadership Forum
05.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
05.26.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Lower Lake Daze
Memorial Day
05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.01.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.04.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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