Monday, May 22, 2006

Santa Clara County D.A. Debate Transcript

The following is the transcript from the Santa Clara County District Attorney Candidate Debate (Mar. 16, 2006, reported & transcribed by Gina Galvan Colin, CSR).

Chris Arriola: On behalf of the Santa Clara County Bar Association I would like to thank you all for coming. I'm Chris Arriola, president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, and we're very, very happy to be here at our new City Hall. And we'd very much like to thank the San Jose City Council and City Services and the staff at City Hall for providing us with this space.

In case you didn't know, you are live on the web. You can link to it either on the end page of the Santa Clara County Bar Association or on the We are also live on San Jose cable access. So, you are on live on TV so I hope everyone behaves themselves, even the candidates.

I would like to thank our media sponsors, NBC11 who is providing us with part of the web cast, the San Jose Mercury News for sponsorship and the Daily Journal.

I would also like to thank our co sponsors; the Minority Access Committee, the Santa Clara County Bar Association, La Raza Lawyers, the Asian Pacific Bar, and the Black Lawyers Association.

I would add a few others who have really helped us out here, Gina Colin Court Reporting for sponsoring this event and giving us a transcript so that we can put on the web. Also, our scorer tonight, or rather time keeper, Clark Stone, our president elect; sitting down here in the front, our executive director, Chris Burdick who has organized most of the event here tonight.

And a few procedural matters. There will be questions from the audience. The journalists will be asking the questions, and at the end we will take questions from the audience from the small cards that were passed around. You'll find them up here at the front by Chris Burdick, our executive director. If you would like to ask a question please fill it out, be brief and be legible, and your question may be asked at the end, time permitting.

Please also turn off cell phones and pagers.

I would just like to let you know this is the first contested, genuinely contested District Attorney's election in 16 years. The District Attorney is an important and powerful position in the county. This is the person that decides whether, what police procedures will be, if certain people are investigated, from the top to the bottom. This is the position that sets the tone for law enforcement in this county.

We are very fortunate to live in this county. It is the safest largest county in the United States, and San Jose is the fourth largest city. The office has a 94 percent conviction rate. However, like any system there have been problems, as the people have seen highlighted in recent news stories, and questions of professionalism of attorneys will always be important to maintaining the best system for everyone in this county. But the real question for our candidates today is how they will administer justice in the 21st century, particularly in the future.

In a county as diverse as Santa Clara County, many groups and minorities don't feel represented in the justice system. And we need to feel included, whether that be through more attorneys, more judges or more people reaching out to the different sectors within the community, from north county to east San Jose and to Gilroy. How we will continue the good work of the past and adapt to the future is what we are here tonight to discuss and find out from our four candidates.

It is my pleasure tonight to introduce our moderator, Emmy Award winning NBC11 news anchor, Lisa Kim. She currently anchors the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news broadcast on NBC11 and has been there for over seven years. She was recently voted the best anchor by the Associated Press Association in California and Nevada and prior to coming to NBC she worked at MSNBC nationally. She recently has been covering the issues regarding politics and is also responsible for covering the recall and the special election. We are very fortunate to have her here tonight.

And with that, I thank you all for being here on behalf of the County Bar Association. And I'll turn it over to our moderator Lisa Kim.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you, Chris. That was very nice of you. Can I use you as a PR person next time? Good evening everybody. It's a pleasure for me to be here tonight. I'm also very encouraged to be here. Encouraged because I see the turnout here at the new City Hall and also because we are streaming this live on the web on the NBC eleven dot com and also on local cable.

This is a critical election, critical because we're talking about the most powerful law enforcement job in the south bay. It's also very competitive, competitive because district attorney George Kennedy has held this office for the past 16 years but we have four candidates here with us tonight that want to be the next DA. And tonight this is an opportunity for all of you on cable, on the web and here in the audience to learn more about these candidates, about their visions and goals for the office, and also perhaps their solutions. So let me, first off, introduce you to our candidates tonight.

Let me start off with Marc Buller. Marc Buller has been an attorney for the district attorneys office for over 21 years, managing criminal prosecution as a trial lawyer, and overseeing administration and policy matters as an assistant district attorney since 1994, a recognized expert in juvenile prosecution he has served on numerous boards and is a policy advisor and presenter for various law enforcement agencies, community, business and education institutions. In Mr. Buller's current assignment he is responsible for sexual assault, outlining courts in North and South County, general felony division, truancy abatement, juvenile division and the community prosecution division.

And sitting to his left, Karyn Sinunu. She is chief assistant to the DA, she is a career prosecutor. Initially an accomplished trial lawyer she was honored into 1991 with a district attorney's trial advocacy award for excellence in jury trials. Since turning in her trial notebook for a day planner, Ms. Sinunu and her innovative reform for the justice system have focused on family violence, cold cases and protection of defendant's rights. Karyn has also authored books on hate crimes and victim's rights. She is endorsed by the district attorney now, George Kennedy, Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley, Vietnamese Bar Association, many bar association presidents, and Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo.

Sitting next to you, Ms. Sinunu, is Jim Shore. Jim Shore, is a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney. As a professional prosecutor and a former president of the California Prosecutor's Association Mr. Shore has been in the frontlines fighting crimes and fighting for tough and smart new laws like Megan's Law and Jessica's Law to protect children and families. Shore's campaign for safety has won the support of the San Jose fire fighters, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and safety leaders in the assembly like Nicole Parra.

And last, but not least, Judge Dolores Carr. Judge Carr has been a Superior Court judge since 2000 and served as a supervising judge of family division and of the unified family court which she helped to develop. She was a deputy district attorney for 15 years before her election to the bench and has also spent several years in private practice handling criminal defense and civil litigation.

Please welcome our four candidates tonight.

You'll also hear tonight from a very distinguished panel of journalists here in the bay area. Let me start off with Steve Wright here.

Steve is Vice Present Editorial Pages Editor for the San Jose Mercury News where he's worked for more than 20 years. He's a graduate of San Jose State University and has lived in the Silicon Valley for 30 years.

To his right, Celina Rodriguez, a colleague and anchor/ reporter for KSTS, Telemundo 48, our sister station. She's very involved and active in the community. She's also a columnist for several Hispanic newspapers.

And to her right, Robert Selna, a staff writer for the San Francisco Daily Journal. He covers the East Bay courts and litigation. His work has appeared in the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, California Lawyer and other publications. He's also a legal commentator for CNN and KPIX.

Please welcome them as well tonight.

I want to set the ground rules for tonight's debate. The panelists will ask the questions. They'll have about two questions each. The candidates have two minutes to answer those questions. And we will strictly adhere to those time limits; two minutes each. Don't make me come over there, okay?

We'll give you time cues to show you how much time you have left. So let's all be fair here and stick to our time limit. The panelists, the journalists will also have a time limit, of course, to ask their questions within the two three minute time period. And when the panelists, the journalists finish their questioning, we'll take questions from the audience, the public, because you are important as well and we want to hear what your questions are, what your concerns are for the district attorney's office.

So let's start off the debate right now with Steve Wright. So Steve, go ahead and ask the first question.


In recent years there have been two public grand jury hearings on officer involved shootings that resulted in a death. What did you think of the decision to make these hearings open, and if elected would you commit to holding open grand jury hearings in any future cases where someone dies at the hands of an on duty law enforcement officer in Santa Clara County?

MODERATOR KIM: Let's start off left to right. So let's start of with Mr. Buller.


I think when you're talking about, in situations where there's a crisis you can't change policies in the middle of a crisis. We have situations over the years we have dealt with individuals, officers who were involved in shooting deaths, we had a system that was in place that was working, it was important to the community to be involved but not in an open grand jury setting. I would not have chosen to open the grand juries in that case, and as the district attorney I would not have open grand juries for individuals who are involved in officer involved shootings.


CANDIDATE SINUNU: The district attorney needs to be open in what they do, and just about everything the district attorney does is open to public review, except for the grand jury. There is a provision in the statute which allows the public to see that grand jury investigation when it involves peace officers or other public officials. I think open government and open grand juries are very important to the public. I have grieved with the families of victims who have been shot by peace officers. In the Tran shooting, I encouraged George Kennedy to open that grand jury and have a separate courtroom with a Vietnamese interpreter so that Vietnamese community could better understand what happened.

I think a better possibility in this county though to open grand juries is having a coroner's inquest system as they have in Contra Costa. I'm the only candidate who's gone over there and studied that system and right now the sheriff coroner's office is debating whether or not to adapt that and I support that 100 percent because every shooting would be open to the public review and then the district attorney would make the tough decision, which we're elected to do, whether or not to file against a peace officer. But the bottomline is it's very important for the public to see what happens when a peace officer takes a citizen's life.


CANDIDATE SHORE: I don't support open grand juries because I want to make sure that everyone in this system is treated the same, no matter who they are, no matter how much money they have, no matter what power they're perceived to have or not to have. I think that the open grand jury process politicized what should have been a communication mechanism with the public about whether or not in police shooting cases there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal case. If there is enough evidence then I believe that the prosecution should file those charges against police officers. I believe police officers should be treated the same as anyone else accused of a crime; no better, but no worse. Thank you.


CANDIDATE CARR: The question of a grand jury really comes back to education of the public. What you have to understand is that evidence that is considered in terms of finding whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime in our system is confidential and there's a reason for that. When the DA considers evidence as to whether or not to charge a crime, whether it's a regular person, a police officer or public official, that evidence, if it comes out to the public, can ruin that person and that's why the law says that information is confidential until the charges are filed. I see an officer involved, or a public official involved matter, for that matter, as no different from that. That, the penal code section sets forth certain criteria for determining whether or not a grand jury should be open. I think it's a very extraordinary situation that would call for that. And what you have to understand about a closed grand jury is those are 23 citizens that are chosen at random to make that decision, and that if charges are filed, all of the evidence that comes before that grand jury is made public. So all of that information will eventually become public if the randomly chosen citizens decide there is sufficient evidence to charge people with crimes. I think it's always a question of balancing the privacy rights of the person who's being potentially investigated for crime, and the right of the public to know. And so I think it is a very serious decision to make and I think it would take an extraordinary case to open a grand jury in either an officer involved case or cases involving public officials.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you, Judge. And I would just like to commend all of you for keeping to your time limit.

Right now let's go to Celina. Celina?

JOURNALIST RODRIGUEZ: What exactly do you propose to do to ensure that your office, the DA's office, through your staff, has the necessary understanding of sensitivity regarding and respect to our members of minority and immigrant groups, do you have a specific cultural competence plan in terms of recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of culturally competent staff? What about community relations along these lines?

MODERATOR KIM: Jim, why don't we start off with you.

CANDIDATE SHORE: Thank you very much.

I think this is a particularly important question and I think diversity within the office and within the criminal justice system is one of the primary goals of my administration. And the reason for that is there's actually several reasons. One of them is the fact that the recent census data shows that 39 percent of the households in Santa Clara County have an immigrant living with them. And almost 50 percent of the households have someone that speaks a language other than english as a primary language. I think this really talks about the trust that we have or don't have with the folks in the community. And I think it's law enforcement, the DA's office, the police department don't work effectively without that trust.

I spent a number of years working in the Alum Rock district of East San Jose with a very diverse community. I helped to lower juvenile crime rates out there. Was in fact honored by the board of supervisors for doing so by working with community every step of the way and I will continue to do that. Because, again, without the community's support, law enforcement is not effective. And we need to make sure that everyone has access to the system which includes access for folks that are here, whether they are here legally or illegally, if there are crimes committed against them we want them to be able to access the system and we will prosecute offenders diligently.


CANDIDATE SINUNU: Well, I think that the District Attorney's office is responsible to the community and should reflect the community. And let me tell you a few things I've done to make that happen, and a few thing I will do to make that happen.

In 1994, when I was put in charge of forming the hiring community, I revamped the way we did it, and I did that because when I was hired I was a re entry women with two small children and an all white male staff interviewed me and it wasn't terribly welcoming. Today, when a candidate comes in, they always face a diverse staff of attorneys and they are asked objective questions. The results of the revamping of the hiring community is that 25 just by way of an example, 25 percent of the attorneys we have hired since then have come from the Asian Pacific American community. But we've also emphasized second languages, because this is another bridge to the community and doubled the number of attorneys in our office who speak second languages. So I will continue to do that.

I have a great respect for our diverse community and I want to bring it closer to the DA's office. I have pledged to form a district attorney's advisory board, which is made up of leaders from our diverse community, which is racially and culturally mixed and in this way we can hear the community's concerns and we can also express our concerns.

So if you go to my web page,, you'll see that I have my fact sheet in eight different languages and I will do the same with the DA web page when I'm elected.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you, Karen. Marc?

CANDIDATE BULLER: Diversity needs to be intentional. We need to reflect and embrace our diverse population that we have in Santa Clara County.

My grandparents immigrated here from Mexico a number of years ago. My mother's first language is Spanish. I understand the nature of what it takes to have an individual who comes from a different country, coming to this country not knowing the English language, it is my pledge to the people of the County of Santa Clara that my office will not only be diverse and reflect the diversity but also will embrace the community and go out into the community and understand the needs we see in the community. I think when you don't embrace you don't reflect, you're shortsighted, you don't understand the nature of the business we're in. And a prosecutor in this county is responsible for public safety. People are not safe if they're not understood. People are not safe if they don't have the opportunity to be engaged within the system that they find themselves in.

I have over the years been involved with and continue to be involved in our juvenile justice system with individuals that I believe need to have services. And those services need to be culturally competent. We can't have individuals in our juvenile justice system who only see a white face when a probation officer walks in the door, only see a white face at their drug and alcohol treatment program. You need to see the population which you reflect and my administration will continue to strive for that diversity

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you, Marc. Judge Carr?

CANDIDATE CARR: Yes, thank you.

This is an issue of access to justice for everyone in our community, especially our ethnic community. Let me tell you what I've done about that as the supervising judge of the family court.

What you have to understand is that in family court 85 percent of the people come in without lawyers and many don't speak english. And what most people don't know when you get outside the criminal justice realm is that people in the family court are not entitled to interpreters, so they have to bring someone to translate for them. It doesn't take anybody very smart to figure out that it's a very difficult thing for them to go through. So what I did as the supervising judge at family court was to initiate changes in the way we did business. I was able to develop several grants that provided bilingual and bicultural care managers to help people navigate the system and when it came to reflecting the people that we served, I made sure that we hired family court services staff, mental health professionals who reflected the people that we serve. And we did that at a great expense to the court to make sure we had adequate applicants from which we could hire. So we were able to hire a spanish speaker, Vietnamese speaker, chinese speaker, within a short period of time.

I'm glad to see that the DA's office's track record for hiring in the ethnic community has improved over the last six months. And I think it's important to have a short and long term recruitment plan in order to do that. It's not difficult, it needs a commitment. You go out and recruit at the law schools, you recruit at job fairs. You have also to develop a mentorship program because it's not enough to hire people from the ethnic communities, we need to mentor them and make sure that they have the tools so that they can be successful and so that they will stay. And that is something that I am committed to.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you very much.

Robert, would you like to ask your question now.


Some have said that civil service rules limit the punishment of unethical prosecutors. Alameda, San Mateo and San Francisco don't have civil service protections, why should Santa Clara?

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Sinunu, would you like to try this one first.

CANDIDATE SINUNU: Sure. I'd be happy to.

Civil servant rules have many advantages to help keep our community safe and that is what the district attorney ultimately is concerned about. One thing that we can guarantee is a place where people will want to stay and make a career, and that is very important as far as building specialities and people who are devoted to this work who can learn everything possible about victim's rights, who can learn everything possible about how to try a case, who can learn everything possible about law and motion work. And without that guarantee of civil service people tend to come and go. It also makes for a very political office if you don't have civil service.

In San Francisco and San Mateo County, where you serve at the pleasure of the district attorney, if you do not agree with the district attorney's politics you can be easily fired. So I think for our county and for it's stability and for the safety of the community, our current process is good.

There's been some discussion about personnel issues in view of the Mercury News series, and the unfortunate thing is we can't make any of those personnel decisions and personnel actions public but overall I think it's good for the community.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you, Ms. Sinunu.

Ms. Carr, would you like to take this one next.


I agree that civil service for Santa Clara County is here to stay. That is a system that we have had in place for a number of years, and by and large works well for the reasons of maintaining staff over a long period of time, and not making them subject to the political whim of the person in charge.

However, civil service also needs to well, let me put it this way, as a former government attorney's association president, so I was the president of the labor association which represented public defenders and district attorneys in labor relations, both negotiations and in employment matters, what I can tell you is that I've seen things from the employee's perspective in terms of how important it is to have a management that is consistent in its application of the expectations and the rules. By the same token I've been a manager and so I think it's also important to set those expectations and then to hold people accountable so that if rules are violated then it is truly up to the manager to hold the deputy accountable and if that means going through civil service rules to discipline an employee then it has to be done properly, and so I think you can balance both the stability that is needed with accountability and certainly seeing it from both places gives me an advantage in terms of knowing that it's important to set expectations but accountability is important too. But mostly, most important consistency and fairness across the board is the order of the day.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. Marc?

CANDIDATE BULLER: I too have had the privilege of representing our lawyers in our union as Dolores, and actually as Jim has as well. I've also seen it from the management side and had to counsel and discipline lawyers for their actions and activities during the time that I've been an assistant district attorney. And also civil servant, I think sometimes that gets a bad name. In fact, you can't put a staff together in the civil servant sector without having a competent staff. I don't think that's true in our office. I think we have a very, very highly competent and ethical staff. We have the ability within the civil servant framework to be able to let individuals go who don't fit within that framework of competent lawyers. And we have done that. I've done that in the past. We have situations of probationary period with our lawyers that we can look at them, we can watch them, we can evaluate them appropriately and fairly, and if in fact if they are not individuals who are set out to be able to try cases and be able to process cases in a way that we want them to, then we can let them go. So I think at times when we talk about civil servant protection we make it sound like nobody can touch anyone and we have a staff that is not competent. That is not true within our system. I think we have the most competent and ethical staff of any DA's office in the country.


CANDIDATE SHORE: Well, I think this question has to be against a backdrop of what we do in that office. And what we do in that office is try to provide for the public safety. And everything that we do should be focused on always doing the right thing and providing justice. And if we have employees that work for us, that aren't focused on that, or in an extreme case are intentionally trying to subvert it, then they need to be dealt with. But they need to have the same due process and fairness rights that even an accused criminal would get in this community. That's what civil service protection is all about. I think it's a good thing. I think workers deserve to have a fair process that they can work within and management can work within in order to effectively deal with errant or intentionally bad employees. And that being said, there has been, in my tenure as the president of the attorney's association from 2000 until 2005, there has been no attempt by management to focus on this issue whatsoever. And there, for instance, is no performance evaluations of attorneys once they have been promoted. That's something that I will change when I get to be the DA We need to bring in some modern management practices that can be brought to bear on the folks that are not following the rules, and whether it's initial discipline like a letter in the file, or the ultimate punishment, termination, we need to be able to do that. And having been on the labor side, I'm confident that working within the rules I'll be able to accomplish that.

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Sinunu, I kind of noticed you pursed your lips a little bit. You've worked in the DA's office for a number of years. Is this problem errant, does it need to be obviously fixed? Does there need to be an independent officer overlooking the DA's office?

CANDIDATE SINUNU: Well, there have been discipline actions, and there are performance evaluations. In 1994 I worked with the union trying to mandate yearly performance evaluations and I wasn't able to do that. I did revamp how attorneys get promoted and I'm very proud of that. It's a much more objective standard and I set out clear goals of what each level of attorney was expected to do. So I think we have a terrific oversight of attorneys. We have highly ethical attorneys, and we discipline those who make errors

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Carr, do you agree with that assessment?

CANDIDATE CARR: It's hard for me to answer that question because I've been out of the office for six years. So as has been stated up to now, what are happening in terms of personnel management, I don't have any way of knowing. I have no personal knowledge or even rumor control over what's been going on in the office. I can tell you from my experience as a government attorney's association president that there were several issues that came up involving employee discipline. And I was fairly frequently in George Kennedy's office talking to him about setting consistent standards and then holding people accountable but having to do it in an appropriate way. In other words, you can't let certain behavior go on and on and on and then all of a sudden many times later now want to discipline the employee. It has to be consistent. It has to be set out. It has to be done fairly. And I think that some methods got improved after I talked to him about some of those issues.

MODERATOR KIM: Marc, do you agree that it is consistent or is it errant and needs to be fixed? You're in the office right now, so what's your take?

CANDIDATE BULLER: And I've been in the office longer than anyone else. Although my looks might deceive you, as you asked your question to Karyn.

I think when we talk about discipline and procedures you need to work within the rules but you also need to work within the framework of what you're dealing with. When I supervised our misdemeanor division it was my belief that they weren't evaluated on a regular basis to allow them to show us if in fact they should be off probation after a year's period of time. So I instituted three month evaluations for those individuals, starting in 1994. So long before any revision of our code or any revision of our evaluation process took place I had in place something in the misdemeanor division.

And further on, this year, I started an evaluation of our lawyers, all of our lawyer who work for me, regardless of their status, regardless of how much time they had in the past, their tenure time, so I could sit down with them and talk to them about what they're all about, what they want to do, what are their goals and aspirations for our office, and I also tell them what I thought of their performance and we had a feedback and a dialogue back and forth not only with my lawyers but also with our paralegals as well.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. Steve, another question?


There were recent changes in how evidence is given to defense attorneys. Do you agree with the changes and are there are more changes needed in the relationship between defense attorneys and prosecutors in this county?

MODERATOR KIM: Let's start off with Jim

CANDIDATE SHORE: First of all, I think that the Mercury News articles that spurred those changes, although I don't agree with many of their conclusions or some of their facts, I do believe that it is a, the Mercury News brought up some good points and that challenging us at the district attorney's office and self examination is always a good thing.

I do believe that the policy with regard to evidence to defense attorneys doesn't quite go far enough. I believe that right now, Steve, as you know, the latest policy requires prosecutors who think that evidence might be exculpatory to discuss that with a supervisor and document that in a computer system. Unfortunately prosecutors, as smart and intelligent as we are don't always know exactly the exculpatory sphere, if you will, of exactly what the defense might do with a piece of evidence. What I would propose to do, what's been done in North Carolina, is to take that evidence and turn it over to a judge, and have an in camera hearing so that a judge can make an independent decision, not a decision made by a partisan looking at the evidence, so that again we can get back to what we're supposed to do in this community and in this office, which is to do justice, do the right thing, every single day. And that's what we're going to do in my administration when I become DA. Thank you.


CANDIDATE CARR: The issue here is what is the job of the DA and the job of the DA is to seek truth and justice. It's not to hide the ball or figure out how you can get around turning over evidence to the defense. The challenge is to give all of the evidence up and still to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. So, in my view, and from what I understand very clearly, the defense has very strong concerns about always being able to count on discovery, and evidence basically being turned over to the defense. That's a real problem in my view, in terms of the efficiency of the office, because if the defense doesn't believe that the prosecutor is turning over evidence, then they need to file a formal motion, then the people need to respond, and then we take up a lot of unnecessary time in turning over or having to think about turning over evidence that may or may not, should be turned over, and the people who suffer are really the victims of the case, or in the case because the case gets delayed. It's more costly for the tax payers because people are spending time on issues that they shouldn't spend time on. So it would be a top priority, in my view, to sit down from the top, from the DA, myself, with the defense to work this out.

I'm proud of having many, many defense attorneys supporting my campaign; public defenders and private attorneys and the reason they do that is because they know that I have a reputation and a long track record of always being straight up, of having integrity, of never fearing to turn things over to them, and so that they trust me, and we need to rebuild that trust between the defense and the people so we can get our jobs done.

MODERATOR KIM: Karen, your answer.

CANDIDATE SINUNU: Well, providing discovery to the defense goes to the basis of any prosecution. And it's fair to both sides. I have done more work in this area probably than anyone else, and I know that there is no prosecutor's office in the state that has the perfect solution. I'm the one that implemented the recent change and I am continuing to work with Mary Greenwood on additional changes. The current memorandum of understanding with the Superior Court is very outdated and we are in conference perfecting that right now.

The problem with giving discovery to the court is that it is not the court's responsibility, it is the People's responsibility under the U.S. Supreme Court of Brady versus Maryland. We have information that we keep on law enforcement. We call it our Brady material, and when we know that an officer has committed a bad act we keep that material in case they have to be a witness in the future. We try the discovery process whereby the court would review this material first, and our courts here locally are refusing to do that and telling us repeatedly that it's the job of the DA And I actually agree with that. So we will continue to work in this complex area of law, and provide discovery in a swift fashion.

And, finally, we will have a surprise for the defense attorney in the months to come because we are starting a new system of digital I can't even say that, putting it on CD's and supplying it that way so we can get the reports faster from the police and get the police reports faster to the defense. Thank you.


CANDIDATE BULLER: Well, the case of Brady versus Maryland has some nuances and legalities that we can talk about. The bottomline is the prosecutor needs to give over every piece of evidence that he or she has to the defense. This is not a game. We don't play a game with the criminal prosecution. We are, as I tell my lawyers who come to me with discovery issues, we are the lawyers in the white hats. We are the individuals who give forth all the information. We do not hide the ball from anyone. Anything that's close needs to be discovered. We don't need to rely on a judge. We don't need to rely on anyone else. You as prosecutor need to know that you need to turn that evidence over. You don't need to seek the advice of your supervisor, you need to turn the evidence over in a proper manner, in a speedy manner so the defense has all the information you have. We are not out to prosecute people with evidence not being brought forth in a proper manner. We are about prosecuting people for the right reason, the right time. That's what my administration will stand for. I have counseled numerous lawyers over the years and I what I continue to tell them is your reputation is like gold in the criminal justice system. You do not want to give that reputation away. Hiding evidence, not turning over the evidence gives your reputation a black eye that you do not need, and my administration will not tolerate those situations

MODERATOR KIM: Okay. Celina?


As you may know the immigrant community is frequently targeted by individuals who take advantage of their reluctance to approach authorities when they become victims of scam artists. What would you do to insure that the immigrant community feels confident to report such crimes? Would you consider setting up a wing in the DA's office to handle such issues and to educate the community about its rights?

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Carr, what do you think about those items?

CANDIDATE CARR: Well, I think they are good ideas and I think we can actually do even more than that. And one of the things that I learned in my years at the family court with reaching out to that community and making them comfortable to come and do their business in court was very important, and I believe it's as important if not more so in the criminal justice system. And so what I'm committed to is establishing a community outreach education project for the criminal justice system where people from the office would go out into the communities. I think it's a good idea to have a place at the DA's office but many times people don't feel comfortable coming into the office. It's important to do outreach. And one of the things I talk about is that it's important also for the community to have a face of the DA, to have someone who actually is a person that they can look at and talk to that's out in the community, educating them about the criminal justice system, what the role of the DA is, what the limitations are, and how they can get their questions answered. So I would establish, among other things, an ombudsman, someone who would be available at the DA's office who would be able to answer questions. That person would be multilingual or at least bilingual and we might have more than one of those people because we do really need to reach out to the community, and especially work together with law enforcement for those special cases where sometimes an immigrant community is targeted. Many years ago there were those Vietnamese robberies, home invasions where there were, they kept gold bars in their homes so they were very ripe targets for people. And so what we need to do in a situation like that is really work together with law enforcement to go out and educate the community on why that's not a good idea to do that and if that unfortunate crime happens how to take care of it and report it and feel that justice has been served.

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Sinunu, are we reaching out to the immigrant community well enough, and the solutions, the proposals that Celina put forward, are they workable with the DA's office?

CANDIDATE SINUNU: We are reaching out to the community and it's very important that the district attorney be connected to the community, but we could definitely improve in this area. We have a small group of community prosecutors right now who are out in the community, and some of them are bilingual. I want to have a DA advisory board made up of community leaders from our diverse community that are racially and culturally, bring that information to the DA's office and we can bring our concerns back to the community.

I also think in the consumer fraud area we need to do more outreach both on radio, television, and with multilingual flyers so that the immigrant community is more aware of their consumer fraud rights.

And finally, many immigrants need to understand that if they are a victim or a witness in their, to a crime, and they are not here with papers, they will not be deported. That is a very sensitive issue. I have had victims who are very afraid to testify, not to face the defendant but they're afraid of being deported. And that message needs to get out to the community.

And finally, I'm very sensitive to our diverse communities and it's one of the reasons I wrote my book on hate crimes. And it has been published and distributed to every prosecutor in the state. So I agree, we've done quite a bit but we can go a little bit further.

MODERATOR KIM: Mr. Buller, do you feel that the immigrant community has faith within the DA's office to do all of this, that they're being reached out to?

CANDIDATE BULLER: Let me answer the first question first, because I think I need to make it clear that the community prosecution division, which I founded, started and secured funds for, is the answer to the problem that we are facing with the immigrant population. We place prosecutors in communities, bilingual, bicultural prosecutors in communities to interact with communities at their home turf, not back at 70 West Hedding, with store fronts within their neighborhoods and interact with them.

Let me give you example. When we first started the program one of our lawyers, Hector Moreno, came to me and said what am I supposed to? How am I supposed to engage these individuals? What should I do? I said, Hector, you've got to knock on doors, you've got to met them where they are. Hector set up his office at the Jack in the Box in the Burbank area of San Jose. He went door to door, talking to those individuals about what their concerns were, brought them to community meetings, we addressed those concerns, and we placed, in those situations, the power for them to talk to Hector and to be able to solve crime. One of those individuals came to Hector and said, you know, the other day I was at my carport and someone came up to me and hit me over the head with a bottle and I was hurt and the police came and they didn't do anything because they told me that I was an immigrant and I probably didn't want to press charges because I could be deported. Hector they only spoke Spanish, a monolingual family, Hector went forth, got the police report, got one of our investigators to investigate; the individuals were arrested and prosecuted. So it's not back at the office with an ombudsman, it's not back anywhere else. It's in the community itself and the DA needs to do that, and besides the DA needs to have a track record of doing this. My program has been in place since 1996 and is very, very effective in addressing the immigrant issue.


CANDIDATE SHORE: Celina, I think it's an excellent question. I think your suggestions are well taken. And I think we need to do better because any time there is any segment of our community that doesn't have access to our office, doesn't have access to law enforcement it's a safety issue, not only for them but for all of us. So we do need to do better and the way to do better is through education.

I was a community prosecutor in the Alum Rock district of east San Jose, was working with the community out there for several years, and found that to be a terrific experience for me. The realities of today's budget, however, are that those kinds of programs are harder and harder to put in place. Instead of community prosecutors, what we need today is to have an office of community prosecutors. Every single prosecutor in our office should be out in the community as much as possible, subject of course to the demands of the courts, and that's why it's so important that we hire to reflect the community. So that we can always engage them at a place that they're comfortable and build their confidence in us up every single day to make this community safer.

MODERATOR KIM: All right. Robert?

JOURNALIST SELNA: Some have said that the office has a "win at all costs" culture in which deputies believe obtaining promotions means they need to win at the expense of other considerations. How do you propose to evaluate the work of deputies other than a won/loss record?


CANDIDATE BULLER: You know, I have the privilege and the opportunity to evaluate our lawyers and allow them to be promoted based on that evaluation. And I tell them when they come into our office, and I tell them when they are being evaluated, it's not the number of cases, it's not how the outcome of those cases are, it's how you do when you're in the trial that you're trying before twelve people. And to assure that will occur I make sure that my supervisors and myself go to court and watch them try a case.

Now, there could be circumstances within a case because of the evidence, the nature of the decision by the jury, that the verdict is not one of guilty but I sat there and watched that lawyer try a case and I know that they're competent to do the job. We need to evaluate our lawyers fairly and that means we need to watch them. And when we watch them and we tell them over and over again here's what you need do, you need to be ethical, you need to be competent, you need to be fair in your judgment of what you do, not the results that twelve people are going to give you at the end of the trial. And the only way you can do that is go and see individuals try cases.

I had the experience as a young supervisor, sitting in the office of one of the, an assistant at the time, who was going to actually fire one of the lawyers. She brought me in to sit there and watch her fire them, I'm not sure why at this point, but the lawyer looked at her and said, "How can you fire me? You've never seen me in trial." And at that point I said to myself, that will never occur in anyone who I supervise. And I've unfortunately had to let go six or seven individuals but every single one of those people I could look them in the eye and say I've seen you on numerous occasions, it's unfortunate you are not of quality that we need in our office.

So you have to be diligent. You have to leave your office. You have to walk down the hall and see what your lawyers are doing. You have to engage with them and talk with them and make sure your supervisors are doing that.

As the district attorney I will do no different. I will watch my lawyers. I will interact with my lawyers. And I will know what they are doing and evaluate them on who they are and what they do, not on results.

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Sinunu, what would you do?

CANDIDATE SINUNU: I've heard that expression "win at all costs" and the real expression should be fair at all costs.

And let me tell you how you get promoted in the district attorney's office. I'm the chief assistant to district attorney George Kennedy. I have reached the top and I got promoted by being fair at all costs. When I started in 1983 as a law clerk that was the first lesson I was told, be fair at all costs. When I was a misdemeanor deputy I was fair to the public. I tried and convicted drunk drivers, got them off the road.

When I was promoted to do trials, given a sexual assault case, I was fair to defendants. I listened to an inaudible police tape, took it to San Jose State University, had it enhanced, and I heard the man praying in a room alone that he was innocent. I interviewed the child, who wasn't credible, and dismissed that case. When I tried a murder case, after the preliminary examination, I didn't think we had the right two men charged, and we didn't. I drove to state prison and got a confession from the real killer. When I was a Superior Court master trial calendar deputy I wrote the victim's rights book to be fair to victims. As the assistant in charge of narcotics I championed needle exchange and quality treatment for everyone who's a drug addict in this county. For children I was fair and wrote the law enforcement protocol for child abuse. And as chief assistant district attorney, I was fair to defense attorneys and changed the discovery policy. That's how you get ahead in the DA's office.

MODERATOR KIM: Mr. Shore, is it fair at all costs or win at all costs? What will you do?

CANDIDATE SHORE: Well, it should be about doing the right thing no matter what the consequences, no matter what the political consequences. You know, the DA should be able to make a decision even if the Mercury News, excuse me Steve, disagrees with him or her. We have to get back to what we're supposed to be doing here which is protecting the public. And sometimes those decisions aren't popular but they have to be done based on the right reasons every single day, so if we have folks who think that the culture is about winning, about notches on the belt, they're wrong. And they should be put in their place and we should have no tolerance by a management for anybody who acts that way or thinks that way. I think Ms. Sinunu told the story in her previous answer when she said she has not tried to do performance evaluations for deputy DAs since 1994, when she was part of management then. I believe Ms. Carr was president of the association. It's time for a change. We need an office that is modern. We need to be innovative, not only internally but externally about how we communicate with the public, whether it be the immigrant community, or deal with the police department. But we need to be smart as well. Thank you.

MODERATOR KIM: Before we get to Ms. Carr, I noticed a reaction on your part, Ms. Sinunu.

CANDIDATE SINUNU: I'm sorry. I just don't think, I didn't say I hadn't done performance evaluations. I've done a lot of performance evaluations.

I said we can't mandate it because the union fought it, but we do them. There's a difference. Sorry.



I think we can all sit up here having all of us tried serious cases and all of us have made decisions on cases and I think really the answer to the question is not to tell you about the number of cases that I felt did not have sufficient evidence or that I dismissed them after looking at the evidence. I think what's important is that this election and the culture that the Mercury News series identified in the DA's office of an over emphasis on winning comes down to the leadership in the office. And you can talk about the number of cases that you've tried or the number of defendants that you've dismissed but if that doesn't trickle down to the people who work for you, and the defense doesn't trust them to turn over the evidence in a timely fashion, or believes that the prosecutor is not playing fair, that is a problem.

The discovery policy did not change until after the Mercury News series came out. And while I applaud the series in terms of raising issues of awareness, I don't agree with everything it says. But I can point out that when a manager in the DA's office has a training and says it's okay to slip evidence by defense lawyers and judges which would otherwise not be admissible, that shows and demonstrates a problem that needs to be addressed. Leadership starts at the top. The leadership has to set the tone that this, that the office not only says it runs ethically but holds people accountable to make sure that it does.


We're going to take some questions from the audience right now. One is "Do you think hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Santa Clara County have been handled effectively and what will you do differently for that community?" Mr. Buller.

CANDIDATE BULLER: All victims within Santa Clara County should be assured that the prosecution, of effective prosecution in all types of cases. I had the situation a number of years ago in prosecuting a homicide case of an individual that was gay and his parents thanked me later for the sensitivity that we showed within the prosecution to his sexual orientation. I think that we, in all types of crimes we continue to need to be forward thinking in how we act and respond to individuals within our community and that means that we need to be sensitive to their thoughts and feelings in how the prosecution goes forward. I think we always can look towards better ways of doing business within all aspects of communities that we serve. Again, I think that we need to continue to outreach for them to understand what we need to do.

One other matter with regards to community prosecution. I think it's shortsighted for anyone to say that we have budget restraints therefor we don't serve the community in the best way we can. I think it's been proven throughout the country that community prosecution works. For a DA not to go forward with 21st century thinking is someone who should not be the next district attorney.

MODERATOR KIM: Mr. Shore, have these cases been handled effectively and what would you do?

CANDIDATE SHORE: I think for the most part they have been handled very well. We have been a leader in the state in terms of handling many of these issues, but we still have an issue in the community that needs to be, that we need to be better at, and that is with regard to the reporting of these crimes in the first place. So the ones that are being reported we're seeing the statistics show a decrease of reported hate crimes around the state for the last several years, according to the attorney general. But we know that these crimes occur and they occur at a younger and younger age.

I have a daughter in high school in this community. She came home to tell me recently that a friend of hers who is a young man who has, is gay, and has let his high school know that, was being harassed. He was afraid to tell his mother. He was afraid to tell authorities. And that's bad. Because again, just like the question with regard to the immigrant community, if we have any group of people that don't feel they have access to the criminal justice system, that they feel they're going to be ridiculed or in any way not treated well, we've got some work to do. So I think the main thing we need to do is education. And I think it needs to start in the schools. Thank you.


CANDIDATE CARR: Santa Clara County has been a leader in the area of prosecution of hate crimes and I think you've heard about the work that has been done to address those types of crimes. So I think that we, in our county, are to be commended for that work. And I think it's also important to make sure that we continue that work. And I am confident that all of us here who are sitting here tonight, as candidates, would carry out effective prosecutions of hate crimes. I know that there are issues within the LGBT community in terms of police sensitivity and so if I were elected I certainly am committed to engaging in more training and awareness sensitivity training for the police and the DA together, to get feedback from the LGBT community as to how we can serve them better. I think having done a good job in that area the office is to be commended. But under my leadership the status quo will never be good enough. We need to continue to reach out and see if there are other ways that we can continue to serve that community. And to make them feel that the district attorney's office can be trusted.

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Sinunu, how can the district attorney's office better the relationship with the LGBT community?

CANDIDATE SINUNU: Well, I think I'd like to address that overarching problem of the LGBT community and hate crimes. A DA's office that is aggressive and tough on violent crimes will ultimately be fair and sensitive to the victims of hate crimes and of course including the LGBT community. This is a project that has been near and dear to my heart. When I realized there was no direction for prosecutors in California I took it upon myself to write the book on hate crimes, which has been distributed to all prosecutors in California. When I realized the police departments had no information in their lobbies, as mandated by law, I wrote the pamphlet and gave it to them to put in their lobbies. I've been to centers, I've been to the Billy DeFrank LGBT community center to lecture on this, and most importantly I've lectured to law enforcement on it. But one of the great things I got going in this community is I got the police chief to sign a memorandum agreeing to aggressively prosecute hate crimes and, furthermore, keep a data base of hate incidents, those things which fall short of being criminal behavior. And when Judge Komar's house was fire bombed, it was that intelligence information that had been gathered by the police department that allowed them to solve it.

So I've been active with the LGBT community. I have written a book on hate crimes. I have worked with law enforcement. And I pledge to continue that effort.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. And here is another question from our audience. What should be the relationship between the DA's office and the police? Mr. Buller.

CANDIDATE BULLER: The DA's office and police have a symbiotic relationship and we continue to have that. I think when we talk about our interaction with the police we need to make sure that we're on the same page with them in all types of prosecution.

Over the last few years I've had the opportunity to train law enforcement throughout the country in different areas, in child exploitation, for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for internet crimes against children. And I think that sort of training that I've seen throughout the country needs to be reflected in our county. We don't do a very good job of training our law enforcement officers and making ourselves available to them on a regular basis. We need to continue that relationship with them and we need to continue that training. When we work collaborative with law enforcement we have great benefits to the entire community. When law enforcement and the prosecutors are on the same page things happen and things happen in a positive direction.

The juvenile justice system, which I've been involved with as a supervisor since 1993, have been going through what we call a detention reform movement over the last few years. And one of the first things that we needed to do within that movement is get together with the law enforcement community, the chief association, and tell the chief that we need to have a protocol to make sure the appropriate young people come to juvenile hall and that law enforcement knows those individuals will be held if they fit the protocol. We set together within that protocol and we have now established that and it has been established over the last couple of years that only the individual who comes to juvenile hall who are appropriate to stay in juvenile hall the officers know that and only bring those appropriate individuals to juvenile hall. It has cut down the youth population in juvenile hall and also assured our law enforcement individuals and officers, men and women of the police force, that they know how we are going to respond and act when they do something in the juvenile justice system.

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Carr, how can the relationship be improved, the relationship between the DA.'s office and the police?

CANDIDATE CARR: I think by and large the district attorneys office and law enforcement has a good working relationship. And as most of the people here know, and maybe the viewers don't, the job of the police is to really apprehend the criminals and the job of the district attorney is to prosecute the appropriate cases. And so they really do work as partners in the area of public safety. And, in my view, and especially in Santa Clara County, as really with all of the bay area, voters want a district attorney who has the confidence of law enforcement because they do work closely together for public safety.

I'm proud to have many endorsements, the majority of enforcements of the endorsements from law enforcement, including San Jose Police Officers Association, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, the Deputy Sheriff's, and PORAC, a statewide organization. But they can work together in many ways. There needs to be cross training between the police and the district attorney's office. The DA is in a place where they can train the police officers on how to put together their cases more effectively, and so that the DA can prosecute them more effectively. There needs to be open communication so that the DA can help them formulate policy in a proactive way rather than a reactive way. So it's very important that the district attorney that gets elected has the confidence of law enforcement so that everybody is on the same page. It doesn't mean they always agree with everything that each other does but they need to have the ability to openly communicate and trust that they're working for public safety. And we're very fortunate in our community to have very strong law enforcement agencies who really work very hard on public safety.

MODERATOR KIM: Ms. Sinunu, does the DA's office have the confidence of law enforcement, of the police? If not, what can be improved?

CANDIDATE SINUNU: Well, we definitely have the confidence of the police, but the relationship should essentially be separate bedrooms. I mean we work with them on criminal investigations, but we have to stay independent from them. Some of my opponents have said the job of the DA is to back the police. That's not the job of the DA It's to take an independent look at their investigations. Last year we rejected 23 percent of the felony filings brought to us by the police because we decided it was too harsh. And that's our job. We decide whether or not we could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. We have excellent police departments in this county. And one of the reasons we do, George Kennedy has prosecuted over 100 law enforcement personnel since he's been the DA and that makes for clean departments. The chiefs and George Kennedy believe in being very aggressive against dirty cops and it results in clean departments. I've had that unfortunate job of supervising and prosecuting peace officers, and it's been especially tough for me because I have a brother who's a piece officer, but I think the independence is crucial to community safety.

And finally, I don't think we'd have all the innovations that I have brought to the police chief, have been accepted, they've been welcomed, and so the brass and the police who implement these plans have been very cooperative and very supportive. So that's why we have such a safe community.

MODERATOR KIM: Mr. Shore, your view?

CANDIDATE SHORE: I think the relationship between the police and the DA's office is crucial. It's a critical relationship and one that has been strained of late. Out there, I'm one of the ones that's, I think the only candidate that still spends the majority of my work time in the courtroom where I work with police officers every day and there is a crisis of confidence by the frontline police officers in some of the decision making by management of our office as it reflects the politics. That's bad. Now the police officers are not going to agree with everything we do. In fact, I spent a number of years in an assignment where I prosecuted police officers and sent them to jail. So police officers know that I'm going to be fair, I'm going to be judicious in terms of how we look at those cases. We're not going to treat them any different than anyone else accused of a crime, but I'll give you example of what we need to do better. Police officers that submit those cases that Ms. Sinunu said were not filed by our office do not get feedback from our office with regard to what happened on those cases. And that's one of the things that I've heard on the campaign trail over and over and over again from frontline officers, not that they want us to file every single case that they send over, but they want some feedback, they want to know was there not probable cause, is this a bad case, was the evidence seized illegally? They're not getting that. That's the kind of training tool that I would implement when I'm elected.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. And thank you all for answering the audience questions tonight.

Now comes the time to make or state your case, as you might say, to make your closing statements here to the audience, to the people on cable, and to the people on the internet on NBC eleven dot com. The order of closing statements has been chosen at random, and you have three minutes each to make your closing statements. So let's start off with Karen Sinunu.

CANDIDATE SINUNU: Thank you. You're all going to make a decision about the future of leadership of this office and the best way to predict the future is by reviewing the past. So let me just talk about four things that make me the candidate of choice. District attorney George Kennedy has kept this community safe and he has been tough and fair. George Kennedy has encouraged me to run for this office and given me his sole endorsement because I am also tough and fair. There's an award in our office given to a trial attorney each year. It's for ethical conduct, difficult trials, and sensitivity to victims. I'm the only candidate to have been awarded that award. And it's because I'm tough and fair. I manage 188 attorneys, a small police force of 90 investigators and a total of 450 individuals. I have by far the most management experience of a 67 million dollar budget.

And finally, the thing that really sets me aside from my opponents are the criminal justice projects that I have contributed to this county. The innovations that have changed the way police do work, the way prosecutors do work. I'm proud to have freed Rick Walker, to have started the innocence project, to have started the cold case unit, to have coordinated the child abuse protocol, to have written books on victims rights and hate crimes. All these projects were self initiated. So when you look to the future I will be a prosecutor who is tough, who is fair, who is innovative, and most of all I will be sensitive and emphathetic to victims and their rights. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. Mr. Shore.

CANDIDATE SHORE: Thank you. I first of all want to thank the Mercury News and the Bar Association and all of the other sponsors of this debate and all of you for participating here and over the web as well.

I'm running for district attorney because I know we can do more to protect our children, our families, and our community. My goal isn't just to make this county safer, it's to make it safe. Now, I grew up here and my wife and I have chosen to raise our four children here. And my dream is that one day soon parents from around this community can allow their children to go out and play, or walk to school without fear of those children being assaulted or worse.

Now I'm not fooling myself, I know this is a tough goal, but I think we can end this culture of fear and violence and create a culture of safety. In order to do that we're going to have to be tough and smart and I've got the background to do both. I've convicted the worst kind of criminals; murderers, rapists and career criminals and put them in prison. And I've responded 24 hours a day with sworn law enforcement officers to murder scenes. But in today's world being tough isn't enough, we need to be innovative as well. And that's why I'm fighting to pass Jessica's Law so that we can monitor sex offenders 24 hours a day using GPS technology. That's why I've fought to put Megan's Law online so that parents in our community can know who the sexual offenders are in their own neighborhoods. And I pushed for new community based crime fighting strategies and was honored for doing so by helping to reduce juvenile crime in the Alum Rock district of San Jose by 45 percent. And I want to make sure that kids stay away from crime and drugs and that we protect our elderly from abuse.

As your district attorney I will provide leadership that is both effective and efficient and I will manage the office's resources tightly so they are directed to fight crime and I will create a culture where winning is not the answer. Doing justice is always the first priority. My office will not chase headlines, we will chase criminals. I'm proud of the public safety groups that have endorsed my candidacy, like the California Highway Patrol, and I'm tonight asking you to join me to truly make Santa Clara County safe. Thank you.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. Ms. Carr.

CANDIDATE CARR: Thank you. This election is about the direction the DA's office will take when George Kennedy retires. It's an opportunity to bring new energy and a new approach to the DA's office. I'm the only candidate who has the outside perspective, breadth of experience, independence and track record to be the agent for change.

My candidacy is about leadership, proven, not promised. From 1994 to 1999 as president of the government attorney's association I represented deputy DAs and public defenders in labor negotiations and employment matters. I learned from the employee's perspective how important it is for management to create an environment where people are enthusiastic about their work and are encouraged to find ways to do their work more efficiently. At family court I saw a system that was not responsive to the people it served. When I became the supervising judge I rectified many of those problems. I made public outreach and education a priority, established open communication with staff, and developed new programs to stream line the process for our users. We hired mental health professionals from ethic groups to reflect the families we served and added training to staff on cultural awareness. The family division became one of the smoothest running operations in our court. And I received awards from the Women Lawyers, the Family Law Bar and the Law Foundation Legal Advocates for Children and Youth for my work in improving access to justice for families.

In looking at the DA's office when George Kennedy announced his retirement I saw what the office would be versus what it could be and I felt a real responsibility to try to make the changes necessary to increase respect and cooperation among its partners within the system as well as insure that the ends of justice are served for everyone in our community.

Is where the DA's office stands now the best we can do? I say no. And the stake holders in Santa Clara County who work with or in the criminal justice system and know all the candidates are also saying no. They know it's time for change. I ask you to join them, the Police Officers' Association of San Jose, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, the Deputy Sheriffs' Association, PORAC, California's largest association of peace officers, and former San Jose Chief Bill Lansdowne, retired DA Leo Himmelsbach, and six retired senior managers from the DA's office, each with more than 30 years experience who worked with or supervised all of the candidates. Join supervisors Jim Beall and Don Gage, former San Jose mayor, Susan Hammer, the South Asian and Korean American Bar Associations, and the over two hundred public defenders and private attorneys who support me in this race.

I do not and will not take the power of the DA's office or the obligation to work for justice in our community for granted. Please do not take your vote for granted. Thank you.

MODERATOR KIM: Thank you. And Mr. Buller, your closing statement.

CANDIDATE BULLER: Thank you. The job of your district attorney is to seek justice in the prosecution of criminals. My record as a prosecutor speaks for itself as I've prosecuted hundreds of serious and violent felonies, over 50 of those cases were tried before a jury. Thirteen of them were homicide cases. I have seen firsthand the horrible impact crime can have on families and communities. I am proud to have helped insure that our county's worst offenders spend the rest of their lives in jail.

However, I also strongly believe that to attack the roots of crime we need to go beyond the prosecution. Our next district attorney must be committed to preventing crime before it occurs. I have built a reputation on commitment to prevention programs, such as our law related education program that's now instituted in every fifth grade class room in San Jose Unified School District. We teach the young people of our community, through that program, justice, responsibility and fairness to their fellow students. In fact, when we bring them to the courtroom and we expose them to the police and to the court they respond in a very unique fashion. In fact, today I was reading through a number of their responses, and let me read to you just a couple that I think are enlightening as to what we need to do as a prosecutor. One young person wrote "it is so important for me to be involved in the law related education program, because police, I know now, rarely use their guns, and can use other strategies to stop individuals from committing crime." And probably my favorite, and the most insightful fifth grader I've ever seen wrote, "Thank you for letting us come to the court. I think you, Mr. Buller, should be head of the district attorney's office." This is May 21st 1999, young Megan wrote that and I thank her for her commitment to me.

I have also determined that in our adult prosecution we also need to reach out to the community. I started our alternative dispute resolution program that allows community conflicts with regard to, with neighbors to be resolved outside of the criminal justice system with trained mediators at no cost to the litigants or no cost to the system itself, allowing neighbors to resolve disputes with neighbors. I think that's very important for us to understand, that we need your next district attorney to have a track record. Not to talk about community involvement but be able to do community involvement and show institutional changes within our system.

I am proud to have respected leaders like former Sheriff of Santa Clara County, Charles Gillingham and Supervisor Blanca Alvarado supporting my campaign because both of those individuals and all of the other individuals that are supporting me understand that my commitment to both prosecution and prevention is a forefront of my administration and I thank you for your support.

MODERATOR KIM: And we'd like to thank you, Marc Buller, Karen Sinunu, James Shore, and Dolores Carr for answering questions tonight. We'd also like to thank our panel of journalists, Steve Wright, Celina Rodriguez and Robert Selna for being here as well. And thank you for being here live and in person, and for those of you on the web and also watching us on local cable.

You've heard what these candidates have to offer for the DA's office. You can make a difference in June. And on behalf of NBC 11 I thank you for your participation.

Right now I'd like to call Chris up for some closing words.

CHRIS ARRIOLA: Thank you to our sponsors: NBC 11, the Mercury News, Telemundo and the Daily Journal for broadcasting and giving us the publicity we need.

Thank you all for coming.

I would remind you, county bar members, on I believe it's March 25th, we will start our plebiscite which is a vote to determine who the county bar members would recommend for the district attorney's race. That is one of the reasons we are having this debate so our members will be informed, will be to vote on that. It is an important indicator to the community of how the legal profession feels about who should head up this office. So I encourage you if you have not renewed your dues to do so this week. And you need to in order to vote on March 25th.

So, again, thank you all for being here. Thank you to the City of San Jose for hosting us and doing the web cast as well as cable broadcast. And thank you to everyone who came out tonight.


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