SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Just months into his first term as Santa Clara County District Attorney, Jeff Rosen moved to address concerns from the public about the quality and rectitude of his staff.
Specifically, Rosen responded to multiple complaints of overzealous prosecution and alleged abuses by his office.
KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:
Perhaps the most egregious case involved former prosecutor Ben Field, who in September 2010 was suspended by the California State Bar Association for violating defendants’ rights.
“Because of some of the scrutiny that our office received because of that case, it’s made me want to make sure that we address any kinds of ethical concerns people in the community have,” Rosen said while outlining the concept of the new integrity unit.
“This unit will look at the practices we have within our office to make sure that we are functioning in a way that is ethical and in line with the best practices in prosecution. This unit will also reach out to law enforcement and help train law enforcement to have, again, the most professional and progressive practices.”
Rosen named veteran Santa Clara County prosecutor and Harvard Law School graduate David Angel to lead the unit.
Rosen hoped the unit, which would operate on a full-time basis and work in conjunction with groups like The Innocence Project, would restore public confidence in the office.
“Integrity is central to what we do in the district attorney’s office and I think it’s important for the community to know that we don’t want to just convict someone,” he explained. “We want to make sure that we’re convicting the right people and that we’re doing it in the right way.”
Rosen suggested that problems are not uncommon in district attorneys’ offices beyond Santa Clara County.
“One is that prosecutors who may be overzealous and think that every case is worth the maximum,” he described the “typical” issue that comes up amongst prosecutors. “And the other is prosecutors who are lazy and don’t give the case the seriousness that it deserves.”
Rosen pledged during his campaign that he would make certain that his prosecutors were properly trained. He also made a promise to review any past cases that gave rise to allegations of misconduct or a miscarriage of justice. The creation of this integrity unit appears to fulfill both promises.
Rosen was sworn in as Santa Clara District Attorney in January 2011, replacing incumbent Dolores Carr. It was the first time in more than 80 years that an incumbent district attorney failed to win reelection in Santa Clara County.
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