tv [untitled] September 29, 2011 11:30am-12:00pm PDT
>> can you repeat the question? >> other areas of concern relating to political corruption? would you give any special emphasis to prosecution of political corruption? >> there is a concern about how allegations are being handled. you can read the paper. investigations that need to occur aren't occurring. we know as lawyers, the standard and sufficiency of the evidence is not a standard for opening an investigation. and yet, we hear from the dna that was a political appointee that there is insufficient evidence to open an investigation. first and foremost, we don't put politics first. that is why this is a job for a prosecutor that knows what she is doing and that has the
ability to stand up to interests. and to do what is right no matter how powerful and influential people are. investigation clear is a cloud of suspicion even if the cloud is wrongfully there. everyone is served by a vigorous unit like the one that i had to oversee public integrity and corruption. >> there is often a sense of political corruption in san francisco and very little has been done about it. i looked at the city charter. one of the provisions said that in order to the district attorney, you have to be an active member of the bar five years preceding the election. as you read it down, the city attorney is prohibited from endorsing any elected official. a thought to myself, i am getting in this race late. most of the people that would
endorse me before including other alexians have already made endorsements. why don't i take the high road and say that i refuse to accept the endorsement of any elected public official. as district attorney, i will refuse to endorse the campaign of any collective public official. i am free and independent from any influence. >> as a matter of fact, when i reorganize the office, i restructured our public corruption unit. i think it is very important for our office to look at public corruption. it is also important that we do not allow the district attorney's office to become a political tool for any one group just because somebody wants to impact somebody else's career.
i tell you i will never do that. i you the authority of the district attorney's office as a very awesome, and i will be judicious about the way i use it and have done so already. we must be sure we use our authority ethically and legally. we do not investigate and prosecute cases because we can. we investigate and prosecute cases because we should. and a public corruption will be an absolute top priority in my administration. we now have a public that does not believe that public corruption is taken seriously in this town and once again, the road to trust that is so central to making us all safer. we need to put public corruption front and center, and we need to do fair and thorough investigation is of serious allegations of public corruption. whenever we may find, wherever those may lead, we need to have fair and thorough investigation, and i think it is clear from the press reports and from what we
all know about what happened with the d a's office, that there have not been fair and thorough investigations because you cannot do a thorough investigation in a day or two. we need somebody who is going to step up to the plate and deliver what the people need -- fair and thorough investigation of public corruption. >> that is the last of the prepared questions. we are going good questions from the audience in a moment, but i have one more lightning round question, and this is the one that will take most courage to answer. we now have rank choice voters. aside from yourself, do you recommend as second or third choices for the voters? >> we were asked this question last night. i think we need change, and i think i am the person to lead that change, and at this point, i do not endorse anybody for second or third. >> honestly believe i am first, and none of the candidates here today would be anyone i would
recommend at this point. >> i have to join them in that. [laughter] i like to think i am number one, and a i am number one, it is irrelevant who is two or three. >> [inaudible] >> if i listen to mr. fazio's e- mail that he sent me asking me to withdraw, i could not even rank myself no. 1. [laughter] but if i returned the favor and asked him, -- >> i asked for two names. all right, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. we will now go to the questions that have been submitted. glitzy -- let's see.
ok. what is your view of the revision or elimination of the three strikes rule? we will go back to the beginning. >> thanks. that is not a yes or no? let me say that the three strikes law is broken and requires revision. i am committed to never filing as a third strike in -- unless it has to be serious or violent. this is where experience comes in as well. just because it is a violent or serious felony does not mean it should be a third strike for a second strike. that is why you want a d.a. that has been charging cases, that has been teaching highly charged and that has been doing this work for 22 years, so we can bring that kind of discretion to make the right calls for this community. >> i think that is why you need somebody who has not only been a
ba but has also been a defense attorney. an individual who is able to give you a balanced approach by deciding when to file third strikes. simply because somebody has two violent felonies from years ago and commits a new offense does not mean that he or she should be treated as a third strike appeared likewise, somebody who have more recent ones who commits a minor offense may not also. it depends on what the community wants and what the community needs, and you find that out by having been there, having done that, and having been part of that community. >> i have been a longtime opponent of three strikes. i work at the state level to try to come up with different solutions and i will not seek and have not sought any restrike cases in non-violent, non- serious cases. furthermore, one of the things we do in the office is we review those cases.
i believe that three strikes needs to be reformed. are not think it is enough to say we would do it in sanford's is good because san francisco has been very thoughtful for many years about the way we handle three strikes, but that is now the case statewide, and we have to make sure it is fixed, and today, it is broken. >> i will only charge serious and violent crimes s third strikes in san francisco and not every serious and violent crime. you look at it on a case by case basis, but we do need to go further. we need to change state law, and i have been at the forefront of that. i also have worked closely with some of the leaders of this movement around the state to reform restrike spirit like michael romano, like the head of the three strikes clinic at stanford law school, who again has endorsed me. look at the leaders of who the
commit -- who the leaders of the community are and who they support in these issues. that tells you where i will do when i get into office. i will be an absolute leader locally and statewide in reforming three strikes to focus on serious crimes. am i supports the reform of the three strikes law so that it targets serious and violent offenders, but it is not likely it will happen because people are in fear. when you hear these stories of what these strikers are doing, and then when they are caught -- even when they are committing some type of -- and it has to be a felony. they are committing a felony. the three strikes law takes them out of commission. the discretion is there, though. the discretion is there for the district attorney and assistant district attorney and the judges to not apply the three strikes law so that the people that are on the front lines from the judges to the assistant district attorney to the defense -- they
have to have life experience and know and understand -- is this the person we are going to walk away, or is this the person we will give a third or fourth chance to? >> what are your thoughts about using civil gang injunctions as a tool for addressing gang violence? >> i think in opprobrious circumstance, that might work. i will partner with the public defender and city attorney to see if we could decide on what, if anything, needs to be done, and i think that opens another issue -- can a district attorney use a city attorney in certain matters? i think they can hear it when i was a young prosecutor, we engaged in collaboration with the district attorney in shutting down businesses which were selling illicit drugs, and i mean serious drugs -- heroin and things of that nature -- by recognizing it to be a public nuisance and by using sections of the welfare and institutions code and business and
professions code. as district attorney, i would contact the city attorney to see whether they might do like they do in los angeles and prosecute minor misdemeanors but more importantly, work with the city attorney in looking at areas not currently being addressed -- labour code violations, health code violations, business and professional code violations and things of that nature, to increase the viability of the district attorney's office in protecting the public. >> i believe that on a limited basis, gang injunctions can be very effective. they must be narrowly tailored as to people and places, but when you do so and you narrowly tailored to the right places and the right people, you can save lives, including many of the gang members and joan did. i know from personal experience that gang injunctions save lives. but if they are too broadly crafted, they become of uses, and they erode the public trust, especially in minority
communities. as a tool, like any other, they have to be narrowly tailored and monitor on a regular basis to make sure that it is done right. if it is done right, it can be a good tool to work with. >> the city attorney is in charge of these, but i oppose them because i think they do and they are eroding that trust. if you look at communities in the mission, for example, who are organizing against gang in junctions, part of the problem is they do not offer anything positive to the young people who are being put under the purview of the injunction. they are simply saying -. we need a balanced approach that combines the law enforcement part with services and support to these people. the gang injunction does not do that at all, and that is why i think it is very problematic. at the same time, if we're going to have one, and that is not my call as d.a., i want to work with the city attorney to
make sure there as clear as possible. are people who have never been arrested or convicted. if you have been convicted, but but the conditions on your terms of probation or parole. i have no problem with that, but someone who has never been arrested or convicted -- i think their rights are -- their rights are being violated. >> it is being implemented all through the state because criminal street gangs is a very serious problem in our community, but the civil injunction most likely by late the constitution because it is very vague and broad. most of the times when you have a criminal street gangs, it comes from new immigrants that are coming. if you look at the street gang and the history of it, you see it through the italians, the irish, and then through the asian community and hispanics. the way to really attack that is early psychological teaching of the children, why they are
attached to these signs and symbols. we need a collaborative effort with educators as well as the criminal justice system to not be so attached to names and symbols. even though i was not a native san franciscan, i would ask for your support in that sense. >> i agree they have to be narrowly tailored. i think the research has shown they are saving lives. as a mother, i would rather my son have a curfew then i'd be called to a crime scene and see, as i have seen, somebody's brain fluttered against a wall because of an ak-47. let's narrowly tailor these to make sure people's lives are saved, but we have to take it one step further than that. let's look at prevention. i am private have the endorsement of the california reentry institute where we are using formerly incarcerated individuals who were part of gangs coming back into their communities once they are released to educate.
so that we can actually educate our kids that gang violence does not pay. we need to deal with not just prevention on the streets in terms of these restrictions, but also in terms of education. >> how do you view your relationship with your deputies from the public defender's office and the defense attorney? >> actually, very good. i am told that i have in the first district attorney in the history of san francisco to actually want to address public defenders. i have had a good working relationship that dates back to when i first came here as chief of police and i reached out to him, and that relationship continues today. we have working groups now addressing areas of concern between the two offices. it is a work in progress. the relationship for many years
has not been good, but i have to say that they are much better today than they have been in the past, and we will continue to work on it to make sure we reach a level of civility. within a few offices, it makes a difference for the people we serve. >> the relationship between the two offices? >> it is a crucial relationship, and it needs to be a productive and collaborative relationship. when you are in the courtroom, you are opposing counsel, but outside, we have the same goal -- to make san francisco state for, the people coming through our courts turn their lives around once the prosecution is over. i think we need to create an environment where we can work together. i in turn in the public defender's office juvenile division for patty, who has been a longtime managing director there. i have seen it from that side, and i think we need to have a collaborative relationship, and it has not been that way in the past.
i will say that - standing as it has improved, but i think it could not have gotten any worse from when george came into office. >> it should be a professional relationship, but their two missions are different. the mission of law enforcement and the mission of the d a's office is to present the truth around the commission of the crime. the defense mission, although very honorable -- we asked them to represent the defendant, regardless of whether they know the truth or what the truth is. we ask them to represent this person. it is an honorable mission, but the two missions are opposing each other. but i relationship with the defense counsel and the court should always be professional. we should have an overall mission of justice. the other two points -- one, it is not the same mission. the mission of the defense bar
is not to keep san francisco safer. they have a constitutional duty to vigorously represent their clients, which is why we see jeff addachi bringing out videotapes before showing them to the prosecutor. have a vigorous standard theory the defense does not have a similar duty. that is very important. i think it is also important to recognize that the we have different goals, that we also must get together and work together well as partners. i am very proud to have the support of many defense attorneys. when you are ada without experience, you do not have the discretion and the compassion that you gain with the number of years. somebody joke that roles reversed -- defense attorneys get more prosecutors -- get more hard core and prosecutors grow at heart. that is why having a defense
attorney in that job is not the right approach. >> you do not believe you have hard or you do not. you do not develop it later on. i agree that they do have different roles, and they must and should be professional to one another. when i was a young d.a., some of my best friends were republican senators back then, and today, i have friends on the bar in the district asserted office here there's no way i can prove this, but i feel comfortable making this statement -- if there were a study done -- independent study done of people right now in the san francisco district attorney's office who are a deputy district attorneys, of all candidates up here, i believe i would receive the majority of votes. it is never going to happen, of course, because they are at will employees, and they are not stupid, nor would i ever put anybody in that position, but
having been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney -- i am the only one available here who brings a balanced approach to the administration of criminal justice. >> we are now going to have closing statements by each of the candidates fear they will be limited to two minutes. >> thank you all very much for coming tonight. as i said at the beginning, i am running because our system is broken, and we need a reformer to fix the system, and i have been working with the community for the last 20 years to do just that, and i think you have seen that reflected in my answers tonight. i am incredibly proud to have the endorsement of the sheriff here remember, 30 years ago, someone was running for sheriff who had never been in law enforcement who had never been a share, who had been a prisoner'' rights attorney. he was the right reformer at the right time, and now, he is widely regarded as the most effective share of in the country. he was the right reformer for that time.
i am the right reformer for this time. we need serious overhaul of our criminal justice system, and i am incredibly proud to have his support as we move forward. i am also proud to have the support from all over the city pier the california police chiefs association, the former chief, heather fong, at the same time i have support from leaders -- neighborhood groups from all over the city. democratic clubs are endorsing me. san francisco democratic party has endorsed me. the teachers' union has endorsed me and six of the seven school board members have endorsed me because of my focus on schools rather than investing in prisons. nobody else was able to put together this kind of incredibly broad support throughout the city. people have a hunger for reform, and people from all stripes, from all parts of the city are coalescing around this campaign because they know that i am the
person who can lead the criminal justice reform that need. i would be honored to have your support. thank you very much. >> the san francisco district attorney is the chief law enforcement officer in the city and county of san francisco. 10 years, statistics show that we have failed miserably, especially in serious and violent crime. we must reform the investigative unit. they need to start solving these crimes, and deterring crime. that is the two biggest goals in the criminal justice system. one, we deter criminal behavior. how do we do that? we must modernize the force. we must let serious and violent offenders know that they come to san francisco, they will get caught. we will apprehend them, and we have to do it and identify them
accurately. then, when they are prosecuted in court, we need highly proficient lawyers. why are they at will? why are we just hiring anybody we want and then playing politics? they need to be highly proficient in the area of criminal law. should be certified specialists by the state bar in the area of criminal law. once you do this and see the very effective force, we need to concentrate on effectiveness. and because we have a budget constraint, we have to be cost efficient. we start practicing modern law like in federal court. these reforms -- i cannot talk about in two minutes. i have been in the system for over 20 years. go do my website -- go to my website. i have an actual plan laid out
there, and it works. if these are implemented, it will work, and i would ask for your support. thank you. >> when congresswoman jackie spear urged me to run for san francisco d.a., she said san francisco deserves ada that is a professional prosecutor, that this season and is in it for the duration. that is what i bring you. we're definitely in challenging times. we have over 1000 unsolved murder cases and over 900 unsolved rape cases. we have allegations we are reading about that the problems are not being fixed at all. we have hundreds of cases dismissed due to allegations of police misconduct, and our appointed d.a. has supervised and trained the very police he is now being asked to investigate. our courtrooms are being closed because of a backlog of cases, which means that justice is being delayed, and the clock is running out on some of these cases with the statute of
limitations. this is the one crown i can say that term to that knows what i am talking about. we have a state realigned happening where hundreds are being released back to our community, and yet, we are operating in silos. in order to meet these challenges, we need a d.a. that has a track record not just of accountability, not just of being in a courtroom, but has a record of implementing innovation throughout our state and throughout the country. an independent veteran prosecutor with a track record that also brings the experience and expertise we need right now, not just about having the right ideas. it is about having the right kind of experience for this job. fortuitously, i have a dna background. fortuitously, child sex trafficking is an epidemic, and i am committed as a national leader in child sex trafficking to deal with these issues. i am very proud to have the endorsement of the queen's bench, to be supported by other lawyers in this community, not just law enforcement, but also
our community as lawyers. it is a different culture we have. it is not a paramilitary organization we need to run. in order to lead eight army of trial lawyers, you need to walk a day in their shoes. >> i am going to stand up here this is only my second meeting with the other candidates, but it is my opportunity to make a closing argument. i hope you can all hear me in the back. when i first got in the race, i have the prosecution experience and the law enforcement background and the same attitude as to the death penalty, based on my personal experience having been a prosecutor, i would never seek it, so we share the same progressive ideas. as i listen to them, i realize
they are admitted to the bar but had never practiced law. mr. gascon has been a police officer. mr. onick is a professor appeared as far as i know, they have never taken the opportunity to go down to the courtroom to interact with the public defenders, the defense attorneys. yes, one wants to hold on to the job he was appointed to, and one wants us to reward him with this job, although he has never been a trial attorney and has never practiced law. unfortunately, i have not gotten to know you that much, but i did appreciate your comment as it related to the position of the prosecutor's office and public defender's office. ms. bach, i think you are an excellent prosecutor, but you are in a different county. you have more conservative ideas than san franciscans do here i have represented people both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. my record speaks for itself. i have not been running since
july 2010 or july of this year. i have only been running for a month. my poll numbers are great. my attitude is good. i am out there, fresh, energized, and i would like the bar association to vote because you never get enough people to vote, so please vote and let the public know who is best qualified and best represents what the district attorney is all about. >> i want to thank the league and the bar for providing this opportunity. this has been a very professional environment, and i really appreciate it. i have over 30 years of experience in working directly with communities on the street and in their homes to make communities and cities safer appeared as police chief, homicide dropped nearly in half when i was here. when i became district attorney in january, i continue that trajectory by moving immediately to reduce the backlog in homicide.
thanks to some of those efforts, today, we enjoy nearly 90% conviction rate in homicide, but i know from firsthand experience that making the city save is not just about making arrests and prosecutions. it is about gaining trust in the community and making their lives better. that is why i created neighborhood courts that differ low-level offenders away from prison while entering the take responsibility for their crimes and their victims are made whole. we have neighborhood courts now it bayview and mission and other states will continue until we have their programs citywide. that is also why i have taken victim services directly into our community so victims such as the elderly and those who have suffered from domestic violence receive the services they need without having to travel to the hall of justice. that is also why i have bargained with the bayview ymca to help kids stay in school and earned their diplomas and why i a