Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves shares why he wants to be Contra Costa’s next DA

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Paul Graves speaks to the Friday Morning Breakfast Club in Antioch on Friday, August 4, 2017.

Speaks to Antioch’s Friday Morning Breakfast Club

By Allen Payton

Speaking before the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FBMC) in Antioch on August 4, Paul Graves, the Senior Deputy District Attorney for Contra Costa County, answered questions and explained why he wants to be the county’s next DA. He is one of five finalists to be the Interim DA in the Board of Supervisors’ appointment process, having made the first round cut from a list of 12 applicants.

The FBMC is led by former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas and made up of current and former locally elected officials, community leaders and other concerned residents. They meet once a month for breakfast and invite a speaker as their guest.

A 22-year veteran of the Contra Costa DA’s office, Graves was the first candidate to enter the race for District Attorney in the June, 2018 election, before former DA Mark Peterson resigned. He was willing to take on his boss in response to the scandal over Peterson making false statements on his campaign finance statements about personal use of campaign funds.

“There was a cloud over the office,” Graves stated. “In the press, there was an impression something was wrong with the office. The people in that office are dedicated to the county. While that cloud was over the office, the people asked me to step up and run against the incumbent. But, I’m not going to disparage my former boss.”

“I’m not a politician,” Graves added

He announced his campaign in May following a vote of no-confidence by the Deputy District Attorneys Association and the Civil Grand Jury’s call for the removal of Peterson.

“It wouldn’t have been as big a deal if Mr. Peterson had not decided to run again,” Graves stated during the FMBC meeting. “I did not support Mr. Peterson in 2010. I was one of those who was punished. But even Mark recognized I’m a leader in this office. I was actually the solution to the problem.”

“I chose to stay when others left, because I’m committed to the county,” he shared. “We called it the ‘French Resistance’ back in 2010. We had two choices: quite or stay here and fight. I’m a fighter. So, I chose to stay and fight.”

In his brief announcement he said, “after careful consideration and consultation with my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Office and with others in law enforcement, I have decided to run for Contra Costa District Attorney in 2018. As a 22-year veteran of this office, I have a deep understanding of this community and the talented dedicated prosecutors that already serve the public. Simply put, I know I can make a difference.”

Graves expected to be demoted, again for running against his boss and planned on providing a more complete, public announcement later. But then Peterson resigned and the Supervisors decided to appoint an interim DA.

“Only two of us were candidates before the appointment process,” he said. The other one is Santa Clara County Deputy DA Patrick Vanier, who announced his campaign about a week later in May, also before Peterson resigned in June.

Graves explained to the FBMC members his plans if elected.

“I believe in a victim-centered approach,” he said. “It’s our obligation to give the best service to the victims in our office. It hasn’t changed for the past 22 years. It’s a crime-based structure. We need to look at restructuring the office.”

“People are people. Victims, witnesses and defendants,” Graves continued. He then said his overall goal is to “save lives and drive down crime in Contra Costa County.”

He spoke of the crime occurring in Antioch, East County and other parts of the county.

“Human trafficking is something we’re not doing enough of,” Graves stated. “Prostitutes on the street corners. I like to call them exploited women. There are exploiters, pimps.”

“I’ve been working with non-profits…to work on these problems.”

Regarding it occurring in massage parlors, Graves said, “Antioch Police are very involved in this. Concord Police are involved in this, treating the prostitutes as victims. Out here in East County there’s a network of massage parlors. They’re all connected.”

He then spoke of one way the DA’s office is fighting crime.

“We have a wiretap room,” Graves shared. “We want to wiretap these networks and to take them down. That is my goal.”

There’s a “huge street-level human trafficking operation in Danville” in a “nice house,” he said.

“They prey on youth, those coming out of group homes, foster care. It turns into eating, rape, and fear,” Graves continued. “The exploited women have a mental break and they become very protective of their abusers.”

“We need transition housing, out here,” he added.

“The punishment for johns are deminimis. It’s a misdemeanor,” Graves explained. “My preference is that they go through a human trafficking course and see what the women go through.”

Asked about sanctuary city policies, he responded, “as a DA, I follow the law. But the misconception about the DA’s office involvement in deportations is wrong. ICE does get notified. It happens when they’re arrested.”

“The law has changed. We have to consider their status in terms of the punishment,” Graves said. “Defense attorneys try to get us to change the charges so it’s not deportable. Sex crimes are.”

“We are a sanctuary city, not for defendants but victims,” he added.

Asked about the Deputy DA for Antioch, Graves explained, “You do (have one). But it’s not sufficient. You need a dedicated DA.”

“We have a Deputy DA in the Pittsburg Police Department. Antioch goes to Pittsburg to file cases without having to drive to Martinez,” he shared. “You do not have a community prosecutor. We have one in Richmond who can do targeted cases. Richmond PD pays part of that salary.” “We’re understaffed. We’ve always been understaffed,” Graves stated about his department. “We have the same number of Deputy DA’s as we did 22 years ago.”

But, he also said he’s very available to Antioch Police.

“Your detectives can call me 24-7 on a case and they know it,” he said. “I’ve been at Disneyland and I took a call. I would work with your Chief (of Police) to get you a DA. It would be Antioch’s community prosecutor. We need community DA’s to work on crime strategy. You need a partner out there.”

“The Antioch Police Detectives are very good,” Graves shared. “You have great police out there. You’re seriously understaffed.”

He spoke of targeted enforcement in which a repeat offender has multiple complaints filed against him, which increases the charges and advocated for pro-active, community-based prosecution.

“You do have a gang problem out here,” Graves stated. “Our gang unit needs to expand. We need a human trafficking unit. Gangs are getting in it. It’s cheaper and easier than drugs.

As to his approach in leading the office, he said, “I like to get out into the community. I like talking to the people. The office of the DA is the office of the people.”

“I will spend my time talking to the troops in my office,” Graves added.

He encouraged those in attendance to “stay involved in this election. This is a very important election. It’s turning into a hot potato…a referendum on Contra Costa County. There’s a push to become like San Francisco…shortening sentences, not arresting people.”

“I’m running on my qualifications,” he continued. “No matter what happens (in the appointment process), I’m running. I do firmly believe I am the right person for the job.”

To learn more about Graves, visit his campaign website at www.paulgravesforda.com.

A public forum for the five finalists will be held tonight, Tuesday, August 15, at 6:00 p.m.   The meeting will be in the Board Chamber at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.  Beginning at 5:00 p.m., there will be an hour reserved for public comment. During that time, you can also submit written comments to be entered into the public record.  If you have a question you would like to suggest for the forum, you will have an opportunity between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to do so. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters will be on hand to assist in collecting the question cards.  During a break in the forum, the moderator will have the ability to chose audience-submitted questions to ask during the second half of the event.  

The forum will be televised live on CCTV, as well as streamed live on this website.  CCTV can be watched on Comcast Channel 27, Wave Channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

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Colleague endorses Graves for Contra Costa DA

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Dear Editor:

Colleen Gleason, a close friend and colleague of mine has written a wonderful endorsement on Facebook. I met Colleen 15 years ago and am humbled by her words. Here are a few sentences from my colleague’s social media post that I would like to share with you:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/paulgravesforda2018/endorsements/

“I’m so excited and proud that my friend and mentor has decided to run for DA of our County. Paul was my homicide supervisor and currently runs the Sexual Assault/Family Violence unit. I also worked closely with him while he was the President of our Association – not only was he amazing at negotiating on behalf of our DAs, but he was instrumental in putting on a successful fundraiser for our local Rape Crisis/Children’s Interview Center every year.

Paul is the type of leader who inspires others; there is always a line of people seeking his solid advice born of experience and common sense. He is the type of leader that people want to follow; when he is heading a unit, other people want to work there…He has handled the pressures of our job in the public eye with grace and eloquence. But, more importantly to me, he is the type of person you can watch handling the little, every-day moments with kindness and integrity… the moments when the cameras aren’t on, when no one seems to be paying attention – the way he treats his staff, victim’s families, opposing counsel, his subordinates – those are the moments when he has impressed me the most.”

Paul Graves

Martinez

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Criminal defense attorneys support Graves for Contra Costa District Attorney

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Dear Editor:

We are some of the criminal defense attorneys who practice in Contra Costa County.  We are the individuals who defend people accused of crimes.   We have worked with the District Attorney’s Office for decades, and are in a unique position to know what qualities are most important for the District Attorney to possess.

We believe in the Constitution, in fairness and colorblind justice, and that every person accused of a crime deserves competent and zealous representation so that the police, the prosecution, and the system are held to the highest standard.

As the top law enforcement official in the County, we believe our next District Attorney should share these values. They should keep our community safe, but also do the right thing even when it’s not popular.

We need someone honest, trustworthy, fair, ethical, diligent, and compassionate.

We need Paul Graves.

Paul Graves’ energy, ideas and fresh approach to the office as outlined in his public application to the Board of Supervisors reveals the dedicated and honorable public servant that we already know him to be.

What really sets Paul Graves apart is that he has dedicated his professional life as a prosecutor to Contra Costa County, and that he has earned the respect of all partners in the criminal justice system, because he treats every defendant as an individual and is fundamentally fair.

Paul Graves’ judgment has always made him stand out as a fair and ethical prosecutor we can trust.  Even though we represent opposing sides in the courtroom, we know Paul Graves is everyone’s partner in fair and equal justice.

Paul Graves provides the character, experience, and integrity our community needs to move forward.  We want the Board of Supervisors to know that as defense attorneys dedicated to the Constitution, fairness and colorblind justice, Paul Graves has our highest recommendation.

Blackie Burak

Derek Ewin

Dan Horowitz

David Larkin

Thomas McKenna

Tom O’Connor

Dan O’Malley

Chris Varnell

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Unhappy with Supervisors’ appointment process, coalition sends Interim DA applicants questionnaire; will hold forum Aug. 12

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Demand transparent, qualifications-based process to avoid conflicts of interest, secret deals

A press release issued on Friday, states “a community coalition of organizations and individual voters from Contra Costa County called on all candidates for the interim District Attorney position to complete a public questionnaire about where they stand on a variety of issues that matter to the organizations, ranging from bail practices and criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, worker and consumer protection to police accountability and the environment. The coalition issued the questionnaire after the Board of Supervisors failed to adopt a fully transparent and community-first process at their August 1 meeting. This coalition is also working with local organizations and volunteers to host a candidate forum on Saturday, August 12, in Concord.”

Of the twelve applicants, the Supervisors narrowed the field to five. (See related article, here).

The responses to the questionnaire will be made public before the forum.

View the questionnaire, here: CoCo Interim DA Community Questionnaire_FINAL

WHAT: Contra Costa Interim District Attorney Candidate Forum

WHEN: Saturday, August 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Church of the Nazarene at 1650 Ashbury Dr., Concord, CA

WHO: The forum is co-hosted by the ACLU of Northern California; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); Contra Costa AFL-CIO Central Labor Council; Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition (CCCRJC); Courage Campaign; #cut50; Democratic Party of Contra Costa County; East County NAACP; Safe Return Project; and Smart Justice California

According to their website, the ACCE “is a grassroots, member-led, statewide community organization working with more than 10,000 members across California…dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to improve our communities and create a brighter future” such as raising taxes on businesses and individuals to increase funding for education, working to preserve and expand affordable housing, and “raise the floor on wages and benefits.”

On the CCCRJC website it states that the organization is opposed to the expansion of the West County Detention Center.

The Courage Campaign states on their website that it “fights for a more progressive California and country” by focusing on three priorities of economic justice, human rights, and corporate and political accountability.

The mission of #cut50 is to “making communities safer while reducing the number of people in our prisons and jails.”

The press release also states that, “at a public hearing on August 1, the coalition pleaded with the County Board of Supervisors to adopt an open and transparent selection process for choosing the interim District Attorney that includes a community selection committee. The coalition urged the Board to avoid conflicts of interest by revealing whether they have ever received an endorsement or monetary support from any of the candidates, and pressed the supervisors to develop a system for ranking the candidates based on their qualifications and alignment with local values, over a consensus-based decision-making model that could be swayed by backroom deals. The coalition had previously sent a letter requesting similar action to the Board on July 6th, which was never acknowledged.”

A spokesperson for the coalition, Director of Contra Costa County Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) David Sharples, said, “We want a district attorney who reflects the values of Contra Costa voters. The selection process should focus on whether each candidate is qualified for the job, aligns with local values, has the highest level of ethical standards, and is ready to take on the challenges faced by our community, not the candidate who is the most well-connected. If the board won’t be transparent about this process, then we will go straight to the candidates so they have every opportunity to explain where they stand on the issues and why they are the best candidate.”

The coalition’s press release concluded with the following: “Contra Costa voters have bucked the position of their District Attorney and repeatedly voted for meaningful criminal justice reform over the last several elections. In 2012, 72 percent of county residents voted in favor of Proposition 36, which reformed California’s Three Strikes Law; in 2014, 66 percent of voters supported Proposition 47, which substantially reduced the penalties for several crimes; in 2016, 69 percent voted in favor of Proposition 57, which significantly expanded early parole opportunities for people serving time in California prisons; and 61 percent voted in favor of Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana and retroactively invalidated several types of prior marijuana-related criminal convictions.”

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Supervisors plan to appoint Interim DA by Sept. 19 draws criticism

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Ordinance on illegal Solid waste collection postponed

By Daniel Borsuk

With the field of interim Contra Costa County District Attorney candidates pared down from 12 to 5, Contra Costa County Supervisors on Tuesday are determined to select an interim DA by Sept. 19 even in the face of increasing public criticism over the selection process.

On a 5-0 vote supervisors selected for further consideration Contra Costa Judge Diana Beckton, Contra Costa Judge Daniella Douglas, Contra Costa Assistant District Attorney Tom Kensok, Contra Costa Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves and Santa Clara Supervising Deputy District Attorney Patrick Vanier.

Candidates not making the cut were former Contra Costa prosecutor and current private attorney David Brown, San Francisco deputy district attorney John Delgado, Contra Costa Bar Association Criminal Conflict Program Attorney William Green, private attorney Richard Madsen Jr., San Francisco assistant DA since 1996 Michael Menesini, Stanislaus County Prosecutor Brad Nix, and 50-year prosecutor veteran with the Alameda and Los Angeles DA offices Michael Roemer.

With the two judges as candidates, supervisors learned there might be a potential legal barrier where Judge Beckton and Judge Douglas might be found in violation of a state conflict of interest ruling that a sitting Superior Court justice cannot simultaneously serve as a county DA.  The supervisors decided to have each judge weigh in on whether they are in violation of the state conflict of interest law during the upcoming August 15 finalist interviews.

Supervisors forged ahead showing scant concern that there could potentially be a court injunction filed blocking their process to fill the $258,181 a year DA post that was vacated in mid-June when then DA Mark Peterson resigned from office after pleading in Contra Costa Superior Court to 15 felony charges that he illegally spent $66,000 of campaign funds for personal use.

In exchange for a no contest plea Peterson was sentenced to three years probation.  State prosecutors dropped 11 other counts of perjury and one count of grand theft.  The State Bar of California took steps to disbar Peterson last week.

Critics accused supervisors of privately meeting or consulting with interim DA candidates and some opponents said it is pointless to appoint a short-term DA when county voters could be electing a new DA next year.

“There is no need for the board to appoint an interim DA within a year of an election,” protested Marcie Garrett of El Cerrito.

“The Democratic Party of Contra Costa County calls for the board of supervisors to delay action to another date,” said Maria Alegria, chair of the county Democratic Party.

Alegria said the board needs to do more work to screen candidates because of the county DA office’s history of misconduct.  She referred to the recent Peterson case and the 2008 rape case involving DA Michael Gressett, who was accused of raping a junior DA colleague that resulted in a $450,000 out of court settlement.

Mainly because of the DA office’s track record, Walnut Creek resident Julie Davis commented, “I prefer that you consider candidates not in the Contra Costa District Attorney Office.  I’d prefer candidates from outside.  Your selection process is long, yet needs more transparency.”

Concerned about the rising human trafficking situation in the county, Judith Tannenbaum pitched to supervisors that they need to select Contra Costa Office Deputy Senior DA Paul Graves because of his work combatting human trafficking.

Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger representing the Contra Costa Police Chiefs Association encouraged supervisors to select an interim DA who will cooperate with police departments.  “Whoever you choose make sure your choice will work with us,” he said.

District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill attempted to defended the transparency criticism lodged against the board.  “This is a transparent process the board is using.  Everything is online,” she said.

Mitchoff also said state law requires the board of supervisors to appoint an interim DA under the circumstances the county faces.

“This is a challenging situation and ultimately the people of Contra Costa county will have to decide who will be their DA,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.

“We’re not going to please everyone, but I look for someone who will defend racial justice, is fair, shows leadership style, and can move forward,” Board Chair Federal Glover of Pittsburg added.

Supervisor Mitchoff was surprised to learn that the Bay Area Newspaper Group had filed in the past two days a public records request that the county disclose personal information that the five finalists provided in their applications.   The newspaper group had complained the county had redacted personal information and that it should now be public information.  That information will now be unredacted.

Ordinance on Illegal Solid Waste Collection Postponed

In other business, supervisors postponed action until their August 15 meeting on a proposed ordinance that would take aim at cracking down on the illegal solid waste collection and transportation operations in the unincorporated area of Contra Costa County.

The county environmental health department has identified more than 41 illegal solid waste transfer stations located in both incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county and 32 of those operations have been closed down, since early 2015.

In order to regulate the solid waste collection industry, the Contra Costa Environmental Health Department has been developing an ordinance where persons engaged in this business in the county would be required to apply for permits, have collection and transport vehicles undergo inspections, and operators must post bond.

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Supervisors narrow list of Interim District Attorney applicants to five

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

County to Host Public Forum on Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Five applicants remain under consideration to serve as the Interim District Attorney for Contra Costa County. The Board of Supervisors found all 12 applicants to be highly qualified, but during its August 1, 2017, public meeting, decided that only five individuals would move on to the next stage of the selection process. The finalists will be invited to participate in a moderated discussion to be held on Tuesday, August 15, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The public will have an opportunity to provide comments in advance beginning at 5:00 p.m.

The five applicants continuing in the process are: Diana Becton, Danielle Douglas, Paul Graves, Thomas Kensok and Patrick Vanier. Application materials for all 12 of the original applicants are available online. Background investigations will now be conducted on the five finalists. (See related article.)

At the public forum on August 15, a discussion with the applicants will take place, moderated by former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir. The forum will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chamber at 651 Pine Street in Martinez. While the public will have an opportunity to offer questions and comments that evening, you can also provide your input electronically prior to the event. Find out how at the District Attorney Recruitment Information website. If you are unable to attend the forum in person, it will also be televised live on CCTV and streamed live online.

The June 14 resignation of Mark Peterson from the position of District Attorney created a vacancy that will extend until the current term of office expires on January 7, 2019. The next election for the District Attorney will take place in June of 2018, with a potential runoff election in November of 2018.

Following the August 15th public forum, the Board of Supervisors will interview the final applicants at the September 12th public meeting; a decision could be made that day, or possibly at the following meeting on September 19, 2017.

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Twelve apply for vacant position of Contra Costa County District Attorney

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Board of Supervisors to review applications on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017; public forum Aug. 15

Twelve people have submitted applications to serve as the Interim District Attorney for Contra Costa County. The Board of Supervisors will begin the next phase of the process by reviewing candidate materials at the August 1, 2017, regular public Board meeting. The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m., and the agenda and supporting documents will be available online this Friday morning.

“We remain committed to an open and transparent process during the selection period of our next District Attorney,” said Supervisor Federal Glover, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “It is unfortunate the County is faced with this situation, but it important that the public have ample opportunity to provide input as we make this very important decision.”

The June 14 resignation of Mark Peterson from the position of District Attorney created a vacancy that will extend until the current term of office expires on January 7, 2019. The next election for the District Attorney will take place in June of 2018, with a potential runoff election in November of 2018.

The twelve candidates are:

·         Diana Becton – Judge, Contra Costa Superior Court

·         David G. Brown – Retired Deputy District Attorney, Contra Costa County

·         John Delgado – Assistant District Attorney, San Francisco County

·         Danielle Douglas – Judge, Contra Costa Superior Court

·         Paul J. Graves – Senior Deputy District Attorney, Contra Costa County

·         William H. Green – Director, Criminal Conflict Program of the Contra Costa Bar Association, criminal defense attorney

·         Thomas J. Kensok – Assistant District Attorney, Contra Costa County

·         Richard A. Madsen, Jr. – Criminal defense attorney

·         Michael Martin Menesini – Assistant District Attorney, San Francisco County, former Martinez Mayor and Councilman

·         Brad J. Nix – Deputy District Attorney V, Stanislaus County, former Oakley Mayor and Councilman

·         Michael James Roemer – Retired Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County

·         Patrick Vanier – Deputy District Attorney, Santa Clara County

You can view the application materials from each candidate online. So far, only two of the applicants are declared candidates for the 2018 election, Paul J. Graves and Patrick Vanier.

During the August 1, 2017, Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board will determine which candidates will be selected to continue in the process. The County Administrator’s Office will be conducting background checks on those applicants. The finalists will be invited to participate in a public forum to be held on August 15 at 6:00 p.m. At the forum, a moderated discussion will take place, with questions solicited from the public in advance, as well as during the forum. If you would like to offer a question, you can submit it online via the recruitment section of the District Attorney’s website. On that site, you can also offer public comment to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors and entered into the public record. The forum will be open to the public, televised live and streamed live online. More details about the public forum will be available after the August 1st meeting.

Following the August 15th public forum, the Board of Supervisors will interview the final candidates at the September 12th public meeting; a decision could be made that day, or possibly at the following meeting on September 19, 2017.

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