Kamala Wayback Machine




Q. How much did crime rates go up in San Francisco from Harris’ election in 2003 through 2008? And how much did they go down in the rest of California?

A. Between 2003 and 2008, the statewide homicide rate decreased by 16 percent, but San Francisco’s homicide rate increased by 32 percent. The statewide rate of violent crime decreased by 15 percent, and San Francisco’s violent crime rate increased by 10 percent. And in 2008, San Francisco County had the highest robbery rate in the state, with an increase of 26 percent from 2003. [California Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Statistics Center, Crime and Clearance Data File, 2008]

Q. Why do background checks on prosecution witnesses matter? Why does it matter that Harris’ office failed to do them?

A. The Supreme Court ruled in Brady v. Maryland that prosecutors were responsible for turning over to the defense any evidence that may be favorable to the defense — and the failure to do so violates due process. [Federal Judicial Center, accessed 5/17/10] Kamala Harris‘ office failed to disclose witnesses with criminal backgrounds to the defense and, as a result, thousands of convictions have been put in jeopardy.

Many district attorneys around the state have a policy to conduct background checks and a disclosure process. By failing to do the same, Kamala Harris has opened the door for potentially very dangerous felons to be released. [San Francisco Chronicle, 5/04/10]

Q. What did Kamala Harris do to stop the cocaine-skimming scandal at San Francisco’s drug testing lab?

A. Nothing. In November 2009, an assistant district attorney raised the red flag that there were systemic problems at the lab. By February 2010, top officials from San Francisco’s law enforcement community launched an investigation and met with the district attorney’s office — without Harris, who has too busy raising money on the East Coast for her campaign. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/15/10; KamalaHarris.org]

Q. How many drug cases has Kamala Harris’ office been forced to drop as a result of the cocaine-skimming scandal she did nothing to stop?

A. As of April 2010, over 600 cases were dismissed and an additional 450 were unable to be filed. [San Francisco Chronicle, 5/06/10; Associated Press, 4/25/10] San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has estimated the number could reach as high as 40,000. [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20/10]

Q. Why is crime going up in San Francisco when Kamala Harris says she has a high conviction rate?

A. Despite Kamala Harris‘ overall conviction rate, felony convictions for cases that actually go to trial and reach a jury verdict have declined significantly, per an SF Weekly cover story.

“In 2009, San Francisco prosecutors won a lower percentage of their felony jury trials than their counterparts at district attorneys’ offices covering the 10 largest cities in California.

“In the first quarter of 2010, things got worse. During that time, Harris’ office secured guilty verdicts in just 53 percent of its felony trials — a remarkable figure, revealing that defendants accused of serious crimes who took their case to trial had an even one-in-two shot at winning an acquittal. By contrast, the most recent recorded statewide average was 83 percent, according to statistics from the California Judicial Council.” [SF Weekly, 5/05/10]


  • San Franciscans already put Kamala Harris to the test on crime — and she failed.
  • Crime Went Up… As murders and violent crime went down around California from 2003 to 2008, they went up in San Francisco on Harris’ watch. …DA’s Office Went Down.
  • Harris’ office did nothing to stop cocaine skimming at San Francisco’s drug lab and jeopardized hundreds of felony convictions by failing to do background checks on witnesses.

May 21, 2010

Politico: Dept. of cocaine skimming

This isn’t good for Kamala Harris’s ambitions to be the next California attorney general:

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office violated defendants’ rights by hiding damaging information about a police drug lab technician and was indifferent to demands that it account for its failings, a judge declared Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo stopped short of granting a request by more than 40 drug defendants that their cases be dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct, saying that decision must be left up to the judges hearing their cases.

But in a scathing ruling, the judge concluded that prosecutors had failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to tell defense attorneys about problems surrounding Deborah Madden, the now-retired technician at the heart of the cocaine-skimming scandal that led police to shut down the drug analysis section of their crime lab.

Prosecutors, unable to vouch for the reliability of Madden’s work, have dismissed more than 600 drug cases since the scandal became public in February.

May 20, 2010

Judge rips Harris’ office for hiding problems

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office violated defendants’ rights by hiding damaging information about a police drug lab technician and was indifferent to demands that it account for its failings, a judge declared Thursday.

Superior Court Anne-Christine Massullo stopped short of granting a request by more than 40 drug defendants that their cases be dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct, saying that decision must be left up to the judges hearing their cases.

But in a scathing ruling, the judge concluded that prosecutors had failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to tell defense attorneys about problems surrounding Deborah Madden, the now-retired technician at the heart of the cocaine-skimming scandal that led police to shut down the drug analysis section of their crime lab.

Prosecutors, unable to vouch for the reliability of Madden’s work, have dismissed more than 600 drug cases since the scandal became public in February.

Madden testified at trials before leaving the lab in December. Under a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, district attorneys are obligated to hand over to the defense information about prosecution witnesses that could be used to challenge their credibility.

Domestic Violence Case

Madden was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2008, which should have been reported to defense lawyers. Last fall, Harris’ lead drug prosecutor complained about Madden’s unreliability in a memo to her bosses, information that was also wrongly kept from the defense, the judge found.

Police have admitted they erred in not telling prosecutors about Madden’s conviction, and Harris’ office has acknowledged that it relied on police to volunteer such information without checking her criminal record.

Massullo wrote that top drug prosecutor Sharon Woo’s Nov. 19 memo about Madden showed that prosecutors “at the highest levels of the district attorney’s office knew that Madden was not a dependable witness at trial and that there were serious concerns regarding the crime lab.”

Woo wrote that crime lab officials believed Madden was unhappy in her job and was intentionally sabotaging the drug analysis unit. None of that, however, was conveyed to defense attorneys in cases in which Madden had analyzed drug evidence.

Violation of Rights

The failure by Harris’ office “to produce information actually in its possession regarding Madden and the crime lab is a violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights,” Massullo wrote.

She said Harris’ office had the “duty to implement some type of procedure to secure and produce information relevant to Madden’s criminal history.” But Massullo said her repeated requests that prosecutors explain why they did not have such procedures were met with “a level of indifference.”

Massullo refused the defendants’ blanket motion to dismiss all their cases, saying each must be considered individually. Harris was not available for comment, but her spokeswoman, Erica Terry Derryck, seized on the judge’s refusal to dismiss the charges as a victory and downplayed her criticisms.

“The bottom line,” Derryck said in a statement, was whether the judge would drop all the cases at once. “She didn’t. Not one case.”

Working on Reforms

She noted that “the law requires prosecutors to turn over information that they may not even have. In order to do that, we need the right policies and a real partnership with the police to make sure we have all the information we need. That’s why we’re instituting reforms to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Massullo was insistent that prosecutors get busy on disclosing witnesses’ pasts. “Your office needs to comply,” she told Woo in court. “You are responsible for figuring out how to do it.”

Public Defender Jeff Adachi, whose office represents many of the defendants involved in Thursday’s ruling, said Massullo’s findings would provide ample ammunition when individual cases come before judges.

The ruling “really hits the ball out of the park,” Adachi said, “by setting forth multiple failures by the district attorney to disclose evidence.”


Who Said That History Can’t Be Erased?


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