Santa Clara DA Boycotts Judge Who Ruled Against Her

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Last month, California Superior Court Judge Andrea Bryan ordered the release of convicted child molester Augustin Uribe due to “numerous acts of misconduct” by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Uribe’s conviction was overturned in 2008 after a videotape taken during a physical examination of the alleged victim called into doubt whether she had actually been assaulted. The video was never handed over to defense attorneys. The alleged victim has since recanted her accusation.

Shortly after Judge Bryan’s decision, Santa Clara County DA Dolores Carr put out a press release announcing her office would be boycotting Judge Bryan’s courtroom, a move a San Jose Mercury News editorial called “extreme, highly unusual, and broadly criticized by experts in legal ethics as a direct challenge to the independence of the court.”

Carr, who was elected in 2006 on a platform promising to reform the DA office’s win-at-all-costs mentality, lost sight of that objective rather quickly. I wrote a short piece last July about several related incidents:

In 2007 the San Jose Mercury News revealed that Deputy District Attorney Jaime Stringfield of Santa Clara County, California, had introduced a fake DNA report into evidence in a sex abuse case. In February, responding to the revelation that the district attorney’s office had failed to turn over thousands of videotaped interviews with suspects, many of which contained exculpatory information, the county public defender’s office announced that it would review 1,500 sex abuse cases for possible wrongful convictions. Later that month, a state bar judge suspended Deputy District Attorney Ben Field’s law license for four years based on misconduct in four criminal cases dating back to 1995. And in March, the Mercury News reported that in hundreds of cases, officials at the county crime lab didn’t tell prosecutors or defense attorneys when their experts couldn’t agree on fingerprint matches…

At a February meeting of county prosecutors, Carr vowed that none of her staff would be “thrown under the bus” as a result of the scandals. Immediately after the state bar’s decision to suspend Field’s license—the harshest penalty imposed on a state attorney in 20 years—Carr announced that Field would continue working for her office while he appealed the ruling. She also vowed to help limit the ability of the state bar to punish prosecutors for misconduct.

Since that piece ran, the number of tapes the DA’s office should have turned over to defense attorneys but didn’t has risen to more than 3,300.

I’ve written before about how rarely bad prosecutors are disciplined for their mistakes, even when those mistakes send innocent people to prison. It’s probably not surprising, then, to see some who hold the position come to view that lack of discipline as an entitlement. Carr seems to have lots of invective for the people who want to hold her deupties accountable, but little for the prosecutors who actually broke the rules.

Unfortunately, the political process doesn’t appear capable of holding Carr acountable, either. She’s favored to win reelection this year.

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27 Responses to “Santa Clara DA Boycotts Judge Who Ruled Against Her”

  1. #1 |  TC | 

    Seems that “Nifong’s in training” are not as RARE as some of their peers would like to believe!

  2. #2 |  dead_elvis | 

    Shennanigans with the boycott have happened recently in San Diego as well:

    ” Speculation in the courthouse was Einhorn had been targeted because of a ruling in the case of Cynthia Sommer, who was convicted of killing her husband but then had charges dropped when new evidence casting doubt on the conviction surfaced after trial.

    Others said his decision to dismiss a gang allegation in the Bird Rock Bandits murder case also upset prosecutors.”

  3. #3 |  pickle | 


  4. #4 |  Aresen | 

    I sincerely hope that Delores Carr is someday soon accused of breaking the law in Maricopa county, AZ while she happens to be passing through.

  5. #5 |  Foobs | 

    1) I really want to believe that most cops are good cops and most prosecutors are good prosecutors. However, one of the first duties of a good cop HAS to get bad cops either out of the police force or in jail (depending on what kind of bad they are). Similarly, a good prosecutor should have no patience with a prosecutor who breaks the law. I want to believe in good cops and prosecutors, but they do make it hard.

    2) I’m not surprised that a rogue prosecutor would be rewarded by the electorate. Most people want the guilty to be punished and are willing to take the authorities’ word as to who is guilty. Believing a lie is always easier…

  6. #6 |  SJE | 

    Lets see how well the DA fares in front of the judge next time. If she is boycotting the court, perhaps no more criminal trials?

  7. #7 |  Bill | 

    She may be boycotting, but if cases are sent there and no one from the State shows up then the cases can be dismissed.

  8. #8 |  Bill | 

    Judges usually decide where cases are sent for trial, not prosecutors.

  9. #9 |  coyote | 

    Great. Don’t give our boys Thomas and Arpaio here in Arizona any ideas.

  10. #10 |  Michael Chaney | 

    I’ve written before about how rarely bad prosecutors are disciplined for their mistakes, even when those mistakes send innocent people to prison.

    Please be careful with the word “mistake”, as that word suggests an accident or oversight. In this case, it seems that they were acting intentionally.

  11. #11 |  Rick H. | 

    What an inhuman POS.

  12. #12 |  gs | 

    Unfortunately, the political process doesn’t appear capable of holding Carr acountable, either. She’s favored to win reelection this year.

    Although she’s the incumbent, it sounds like her opponent has a shot.

    Donations to Carr’s challenger Jeff Rosen can be made here.

  13. #13 |  Angie | 

    Sometimes I don’t know if I should laugh or cry when I read these. No one is held accountable for their actions anymore and too many are held accountable for actions that aren’t even theirs. Sad state our country has gotten itself into.

  14. #14 |  Cynical in CA | 

    This will not end well for Carr.

    The State is patient, but the State will not tolerate a direct challenge to its authority.

    I expect that the AG of CA will drop her a line, get her back on the reservation or she’s toast.

  15. #15 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Unfortunately, the political process doesn’t appear capable of holding Carr acountable, either. She’s favored to win reelection this year.”

    Really, no! I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

    And if she lost the election, there’d just be another fascist champing at the bit to take her place.

    Democracy, the notion that the common folk know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. [h/t HLM]

  16. #16 |  Marty | 

    is Jim Bell one of those enlightened men who do not discriminate based on gender?

  17. #17 |  Mike H | 

    Maybe I’m missing something here… If Uribe’s conviction was overturned in 2008, why was he only granted release from prison last month?

    Was he serving time for separate crimes?

  18. #18 |  Laura Victoria | 

    #4, I”m sure if she just showed her DA credentials at the stop, Joe and his pal Dave Thomas would let her off. Come to think about it, she and Thomas sound like twins separated at birth.

    On the “mistake” issue, my experience is that it is we on the defense all the time discovering things through investigation that were withheld. The DA claim is always the same. Just a mistake, inadvertance, making it sound to the former/DA judge as if the defense is paranoid.

    Lots of times, stuff comes out during trial for the very first time. So, lucky defendant gets a mistrial and gets to go through the whole process again, after DA is given a sneak preview. In Colorado, if the court dismissed with prejudice the DA would likely appeal and win.

    Judges and attorneys are supposed to report misconduct to the bar, even basic ethical violations such as misrepresenting things to the court. The judges never report it, even when big time stuff like violation of witness sequestration orders happen, the DAs coordinated the witness conference, and the DA lies to the judge about it. Because the reporting requirement was being ignored, the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation liberalized the requirement of reporting only if the offense displayed a pattern of misconduct of a serious nature.

  19. #19 |  Rev. "Suds" Pshaw | 

    This joker sounds like he took a page straight out a Scientology handbook

  20. #20 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Unfortunately, the political process doesn’t appear capable of holding Carr acountable, either. She’s favored to win reelection this year.

    Unlike all those other times when incumbents ARE held accountable…

  21. #21 |  El Scorcho | 

    The court system should just assign every trial to the boycotted judges. Default rulings should teach the prosecuters who is really in charge. I don’t mind letting a few guilty people go, if it means stopping government corruption.

  22. #22 |  Wavemancali | 

    Last month, California Superior Court Judge Andrea Bryan ordered the release of convicted child molester Augustin Uribe

    If he has been released and the conviction has been overturned, this should read:

    Last month, California Superior Court Judge Andrea Bryan ordered the release of Augustin Uribe formerly convicted of child molestation.

    The way it reads now, it seems the guy is a child molester that happens to also have been convicted, rather than some innocent guy that got railroaded which seems to be the case.

  23. #23 |  God's Own Drunk | 

    Here’s a story of a prosecutor not being a total dick, although the cops still seem to be.

  24. #24 |  Lori Wilson | 

    Actually, Carr has backtracked a little. She now says she will “allow” the judge to preside over misdemeanor cases (how generous of her).

    Unfortunately, when the words child molester are included in ANY discussion or article, many people blank out any other words and blame “the system” for not locking the person up and throwing away the key, in this case the judge.

  25. #25 |  Archie1954 | 

    The DA’s actions are obstruction of justice and also in contempt of court either of which should result in a prison sentence for her. There needs to be a brave and incorruptable judge though to take on such egregious activity.

  26. #26 |  Timothy Taylor | 

    This is neither a mistake, not an anomaly. Santa Clara County District Attorney’s have a long recorded, and well documented history of denying criminal and civil litigants the due process of law required under the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14 amendments, as well as denying people in Juvenile Dependency or Family Lw courts basic assumed priveliges such as the PRESUMPTION OF INNONCENCE. Delores Carr is only the latest example of this incredibly corrupt, and illegal agency acting under the full knowledge of the Board of Supervisors such as Jim Beall, Don Gage, Blanca Alvarado et al of denial of due process of law. The abuses by the DA include but are not limited to, hiding exculpatory evidence, fabricating evidence, abuse of color of authority, violation of civil rights freedoms such as free speech, the right to confront one’s accusers, and the use of Hearsay without corroborating evidence as is required under the findings of the US Supreme Court under Crawford V Washington, to name but a few. Delores Carr, Ben Fields, and Jamie Stringfield all belong in PRISON for what they engaged in on a daily basis, and for any of them to assert they “uphold the law” is a flat out farce. The abuse they have subjected innocent parties to is intolerable, and is a legal outrage in every sense of the word. The judiciary in these courts is no better. As agents of the county, they are part and parcel of the problem. Perhaps if we removed Judicial and Prosecutorial immunity, and required them stand for independent citizen review, and opened the courts of Family Law and Juvenile dependency courts, there would be a small glimmer of hope for the wrongly accused, but I for one can tell you, there is NO JUSTICE in Santa Clara County, and these agents bound by law, throw out their oaths of office before they ever sit down in the morning. Each Judge should be required to carry a liability bond, paid for entirely by him, and should also be required to pass a basic test acknowledging the adherence to the Judicial Guide Handbook Same for social workers. Instead, when it was discovered that a rampant trail of abuse existed inside the entire system, instead of reforming the processes, and opening them up to public scrutiny, the California Legislature voted them retroactive immunity. They cause immeasurable harm every day in the name of “best interests of the child”, and use unconstitutional burdens and rules of evidence such as unfounded hearsay placed on the accused to prove their case. Even Terrorists have more rights than a family member in Family Law of Juvenile Dependency cases.

  27. #27 |  Vote for the Worst Prosecutor of 2010 | The Agitator | 

    […] of misdeeds: See here. Summary: Santa Clara County, California’s district attorney ran for the office in 2006 on a […]