DA officially creates conviction-integrity unit

Department will review cases of alleged prosecutorial misconduct and set protocol to prevent future errors

After a series of misconduct allegations against the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, including the suspension of one prosecutor by the California State Bar Association, District Attorney Jeff Rosen has created a full-time Conviction Integrity Unit.

The new department fulfills a campaign promise Rosen made to properly train prosecutors and to evaluate past cases where a miscarriage of justice has been alleged.

"Integrity is central to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. We will protect defendants' rights, even as we justly prosecute them. For a prosecutor, the ends never justify the means, we do the right thing, and we do it the right way," Rosen said in a March 17 statement.

Rosen has tapped veteran prosecutor David Angel to head the unit. Angel graduated from Harvard Law School with high honors and has extensive experience both as a prosecuting attorney and a reformer within the office, the DA's office noted.

Angel helped draft the county's eyewitness-identification protocol, which is considered a model around the state. He was instrumental in the county's calling for the recording of suspect interviews in violent crimes.

Angel also participated in an internal office investigation that resulted in the exoneration of a man wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Sue Dremann

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Posted by Problems-In-the-DAs-Office?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:01 am

There have been on-going charges of misconduct against the SCC DA's office by sources such as the Mercury News over the years. However, the DA's office has always claimed that the MN were not lawyers, and so were not in the best position to understand the issues. The suspension of one of the ADAs by the State Bar could not be so easily dismissed, but few of us are in a position to fully understand what that attorney did, or even if the punishment fit his offense.

To what extent there is a problem with "conviction integrity" certainly is an open question. The DA would do himself, his office, and the public a real service by laying all of his cards on the table. He ran on a very weak platform of "ethics". He didn't promise too much else. If he does not provide transparency to any investigations that are conducted into this topic, then he won't be fulfilling the explicit, and implicit, promises he made when he ran for office.

If there are problems with some cases, presumably the cases will be reexamined, and possibly retried. But what about some sort of "consequence" to the ADAs who were responsible for the problems? Will they be sanctioned/punished in any way? Of will this DA just look the other way, because they are "fellow attorneys"?

At a minimum, the DA needs to provide the public periodic reports on the activities of this "unit".

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Posted by Dingdong
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

I don't believe Rosen is serious about this unit. At the end, it will be only a waste of tax-payer's money and it will end up shut down. I believe they have so many wrongful convictions that if they start investigating they will open a Pandora's box and they certainly don't want that.

Those people need to know that citizens aren't stupid, just not powerful enough.

Like this comment
Posted by Lindsaylee
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Web Link

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Posted by Try Again
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

Integrity is not in a DA's vocabulary . This " integrity unit " is a joke, just like the DA's office.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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