Recent content in the North Coast Journal highlights a challenge people face in evaluating the criminal justice process and specifically the DA's Office: lack of access to all relevant information.
From the Aug. 27 NCJ article ("What Happened on Howard Street") about the July 4 Howard Street incident, people may perceive racial injustice. However, race had no role in our evaluation; the case included conflicting testimony from a victim and a credible neutral observer and all the information we had didn't make a provable case.
In the same article, people may perceive disrespect to someone who did not receive immediate notification about our decision concerning a case they were involved in. However, the victim's legal guardian was notified within five days. We strive to be faster than that, but the 9,000 cases we receive annually for review and the 5,000 we prosecute make that a challenge. Our outreach on the Howard Street case included a July 17 letter to the victim inviting communication with us. Our decision relied on all available information: a July 11 police report.
About Hilary Mosher's perspective on our office shared in her Sept. 3 letter: She and I have exchanged many emails; several of mine explain our office's excellent work to achieve justice in the examples she cites. My communications have also pointed out she attributes authority to the DA's Office — such as the authority to determine the mental competency of a defendant — that it appropriately doesn't have.
I appreciate people who spend time and effort to evaluate the performance of public agencies and officials. I applaud those who remain open to possibilities other than simple negative narratives. Every day, our office fights injustice and respects all victims. I encourage those seeking objective information about criminal proceedings to take advantage of the current access being provided via Zoom (https://www.humboldt.courts.ca.gov/).
Maggie Fleming, Humboldt County's district attorney