Wasting resources | Lost Coast Outpost | Humboldt County

MH asks Adrian Kamada

1 ^

Wasting resources

In your interview with Kim Kemp, you gave an example of a sergeant that had been to court 15 times for a preliminary hearing. What case, specifically, were you referring to? And were all 15 of those appearances necessary because you or another public defender requested a continuance at the last minute? How many of the continuances were requested by the administration of the DA’s office that you despise so much?

— MH

Response

Adrian Kamada

I do not despise the D.A.’s office.  Clearly, I am not a fan of the current administration, the lack of leadership in the office, the dedication to old and inefficient ways of working, the bad charging decisions, the bad plea arrangements, the lack of transparency, and the culture of intimidation.  Those are issues I have with the Fleming/Eads administration, not the D.A.’s Office. 

There are tremendous positive aspects in the D.A.’s Office, the biggest by far being the people who work there.  The administrative staff, investigators, prosecutors - every person in the office - are hard-working, talented people.  Many of them are close friends of mine, and some have endorsed me despite intimidation from above.

These people work in a stressful environment and don’t get the support, compensation, and respect they deserve.  Under the 8-year Fleming/Eads administration 33 staff members and 22 attorneys have left the office.  That is not sustainable.  Responding to a Lost Coast Outpost question Ms. Eads wrote “Almost every attorney hired since 2015 by DA Fleming who left is now serving in a DA’s Office elsewhere in the state”.  In fact,  just 8 of those 22 are so employed.  Good people have left because they felt the leadership was toxic.  Many of them have also endorsed me.

I was not involved in the case where the Sergeant was there for the 15th time.  The Sergeant told me this while we were waiting to see what cases would actually go forward that day.  It did not surprise me.  Officers routinely tell me that they are subpoenaed over-and-over for the same case, and they have become increasingly frustrated by it.  The problem isn’t limited to Officers – victims, witnesses, and yes, even defendants needlessly spend time away from work and family, losing income and re-opening old wounds as soon as they enter the courthouse.

The broader point is that the D.A.’s office cannot control every aspect of this problem but absolutely can minimize it by thinking strategically about the actions of the office.  The courts are clogged beyond capacity with cases, many of them misdemeanors.  By making decisive charging decisions early in the process and working for acceptable resolutions prior to getting into the courtroom the entire process can be streamlined while reaching the same, and in many cases much better, resolutions.

There is absolutely no reason that non-violent misdemeanors should linger in court for a year or two.  It’s counter-productive, wastes resources, and negatively impacts the ability to successfully prosecute the larger cases.  Ultimately, it represents another failure in seeing how individual cases fit into the larger public safety mission. 

As an example: In 2019 I was in the middle of prosecuting a homicide trial.  I  was assigned another homicide that required a 2-day preliminary hearing.  I had to plead with the trial Judge to postpone proceedings for 2 days so I could handle the preliminary hearing.  Before that hearing could take place Ms. Fleming decided to use the valuable court time for a drunk in public trial.  It took two more years before that homicide received a preliminary hearing. 

The punchline to this sad story: the misdemeanor drunk in public case was so weak that the Judge ordered a directed verdict.  This means the Judge found that no reasonable jury would convict based on the D.A.’s case, and it was dismissed.  That is the type of judgement and waste of resources we have gotten from the Fleming/Eads administration.

This isn’t just a topic of concern for individual Officers and law enforcement agencies.  In a time of rapidly rising crime this should concern everyone.  I’ve been told over and over about huge overtime bills, losing time with your family on a day off, and losing sleep when you work graveyard shifts.  Worse, this is taking on-duty cops off the street so they can warm a bench outside the courtroom. 

I’ve talked about two simple but effective ideas.  First, rather than having Officers automatically appear they can agree that, if the prosecutor calls, they will be there within 20-30 minutes.  Second, use an existing system called iSubpoena to modernize the process.  Officers can receive and acknowledge subpoenas and cancellations from their cell phones.  The current system has their agencies go through the cumbersome and wasteful process of printing subpoenas, having them signed, and returning paper copies, and when given enough notice making last-minute phone cancellations.

Interestingly, since I started talking about these ideas the D.A.’s office has started using the 20-minute notice idea.  And Ms. Fleming, in what amounts to free advertising for Ms. Eads on the KINS show “Talk Shop”, raised the idea of using “eSubpoena”.  Several people on the “inside” have told me, essentially, “everything you’ve been saying, Maggie is now saying”.

Ms. Fleming is busy trying to appoint Ms. Eads to the office.  Ms. Eads is essentially silent on the issues.  At least they both seem to be endorsing my ideas.

Respectfully,

Adrian

For the first in a long line of endorsement videos please go to:  https://www.facebook.com/Kamada4DA/videos/737917647572960

For more information go to :  www.AK4DA.com