Bonnie Dumanis' Paved Road to 2010
She helped create one of the first San Diego Drug Courts , a program that helps reduce recidivism while addressing underlying issues of chemical dependency. (Frankly, it's refreshing to see a prosecutor who is not inclined to lock up every nonviolent drug offender.) &
And her track record of prosecuting domestic violence crimes and cracking down on violent sex offenders, namely in establishing Domestic Violence Court and helping pass California's " Jessica's Law, " has bolstered her tough-on-crime image.
Who can argue she's dedicated to law enforcement? Isn't that what voters want from a prosecutor? &
Therein lies my problem with reelecting Bonnie Dumanis. She's dedicated to doing her job, but some would say she has recently led the DA's office away from integrating the best in community solutions to just plain picking sides. &
She has picked the side of law enforcement so vigorously in fact, that there is a grand jury record saying her office continually "overcharges" defendants in order to get a conviction . On another note, this one totally unsubstantiated but heard on conservative talk radio, says her office has never prosecuted a San Diego police officer involved in a civilian shooting. I couldn't find any facts one way or the other, but two incidents immediately sprang to memory.
The officers in two high profile shootings were, in my opinion, treated with kid gloves. The first incident involved former Chargers linebacker Steve Foley in a September 2006 shooting. There, an off-duty, unidentified-but armed-San Diego police officer opened fire on the former player's "left leg, hip and hand...and ended Foley's football career." The encounter was ruled self-defense, in the police officer's favor.
But to lots of people including myself, it sounded like an unprovoked excessive use of force.
The latest incident involved another unidentified, off-duty, but armed police officer who shot five times at an unarmed Oceanside woman's car, hitting her and her eight-year-old child inside the car. The officer was never charged and no more details about the incident have been released.
These altercations and their subsequent investigations only cut against Dumanis' reputation as a good prosecutor and smack of favoritism to voters.
By far, however, the worst incidence of prosecutorial zealotry-read, insult-has been the DA Office's handling of the Cynthia Sommer, Marine widow "murder" case that turned out to be not so much murder as, well, not much at all.
Unless you happen to be Ms. Sommer. Or one of her four kids. Or her family whose name was trudged through public mud to get a conviction. &
Last but not least, Bonnie Dumanis has endorsed Judge Jan Goldsmith for City Attorney over the candidate of my choice, Mike Aguirre. Since both Aguirre and Dumanis may win, wouldn't it be better if Dumanis hadn't publicly said this about the city attorney?
The road to the DA's office should be paved with more than good intentions. People's lives and freedoms literally are at stake. Just ask Cynthia Sommer, for one.
- Citizen Voices blogger Alma Sove has spent most of her life in San Diego and is currently attending law school.