Susan Bonilla, the chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, has called a special meeting of the board’s Public Protection Committee. Bonilla is inviting the Sheriff Warren Rupf and members of the Contra Costa Police Chiefs Association to attend.
Bonilla, like fellow Supervisor John Gioia, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, expressed dismay at the decision by District Attorney Bob Kochly to no longer review and file charges against many misdemeanors as of May 4. These misdemeanors include drug offenses, property crimes, simple assault or battery cases, and trespassing and loitering cases. The D.A.’s Office, however, will continue to prosecute misdemeanor DUIs, domestic violence cases, and sex crimes.
In a memo to county police chiefs, obtained by Claycord.com, Kochly said: “With respect to these types of cases, we ask that they not even be submitted by your agency. If they are submitted, they will be screened out by category by support staff and returned to your department without review by a deputy district attorney.”
This language did not sit well with Bonilla who states in a press release, shared with Claycord.com:
“I find the District Attorney’s decision deeply troubling. The Board of Supervisors understood, while there would be reduction in services, the District Attorney would make every effort to efficiently schedule cases and seek cost-saving opportunities that would preserve the infrastructure of prosecuting all misdemeanors.
“The Board of Supervisors relies on the District Attorney to manage his office in a manner that best serves the public. However, the District Attorney’s decision of summarily returning cases to police departments without review by a deputy district attorney and requesting police chiefs to no longer submit certain types of cases threatens the safety and well being of Contra Costa County residents.
While the Board of Supervisors establishes the budget for the District Attorney’s Office, as a separately elected official, the District Attorney has sole discretion as to how he will allocate resources to ‘seek justice and enhance public safety for all our residents by aggressively, fairly, ethically, and efficiently prosecuting those who violate the law’ as stated in the D.A.’s mission statement.”
To me, it sounds like Bonilla is suggesting that Kochly mislead supervisors about how he would deal with this crisis. So did John Gioia in an interview with the Chronicle.
Kochly’s latest decision comes after supervisors labeled law enforcement, including Kochly’s office, a top priority in deciding in March which of the many county services would be cut in this current budget crisis. The supervisors decided that, instead of asking Kochly to make $4.1 million in cuts, they would ask him to only trim $1.9 million, meaning he would have to lay off 18 deputy district attorneys instead of the 33 originally proposed.
Gioia told the Chronicle that the list of crimes that Kochly says he now won’t prosecute is far longer now than what he told the supervisors during its budget deliberations.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for the chief prosecutor in the county to inform the public at large what cases they’re not going to prosecute,” Gioia said.
Meanwhile, David Livingston, president of the county Police Chiefs Association, told the Contra Costa Times that all the chiefs agreed that officers would continue to make misdemeanor arrests as usual, regardless of what prosecutors decided to do.
Back in February, I questioned whether Kochly was grandstanding when he threatened that the $4.1 million cuts would force him to stop prosecuting DUIs. Well, he didn’t have to make all the cuts he feared. He received concessions from the supervisors. Meanwhile, other vital health and human services have been cut, and the Sheriff’s department, despite the supervisors’ promise that law enforcement would be a top priority, still has to let go 56 deputies.
I have to agree with Bonilla. Kochly’s latest move is “deeply troubling.”
While the Contra Costa Times, in an editorial today, disagreed with Gioia and gave Kochly props for being public about how he intends to deal with the shortfall, the Times also rightly said: “Kochly needs to show more flexibility. While maintaining an even hand in prosecution of cases across the county to ensure crimes are prosecuted without regard to locale or economics, Kochly should also be more willing to evaluate cases individually to ensure some of the worst misdemeanor offenders do not get a free pass. … And Kochly needs to determine whether he is making best use of the funding he’s receiving.”
13 thoughts on “CoCo Supe Bonilla finds D.A.’s decision on not prosecuting some misdemeanors "troubling." Requests special meeting.”
Mr. Kochly told the BOS from the work go that he was not going to be able to prosecute misdemeanors with the proposed budget cuts. He told them several times. It is troubling that all other aspects of the agency are cut back so much already that he now has to cut attorney staff. There were no other options for him, as clerical and investigative staff are already cut to a point where any further reductions in those areas would also profoundly affect the running of the office.
It is troubling, but it is the BOS fault, not the DA’s.
Bonilla is full of it.
YOu guys don’t have a clue. There are all kind of ways Kochly can trim, without affecting public safety. He’s posturing for political reasons. Start with his salary: Soccer Mom can remind us how much this is. (He’s one of our infamous double dippers.) Oh, and by the way, to previous comments, First Five isn’t funded by the county. It’s a cigarette sales tax.
You have no idea what you are talking about. Everything else has already been trimmed to the bone. Attorneys was the only place left to go. thus, reduction in prosecution. How many clerical staff do you think he would have to let go to make up $1.9 million?
Where else could he have gone?
I repeat: What’s the guy’s salary? (He’s double dipping; full pension and full salary.) He could start there.
Regardless, his fear-tactics are incredibly unprofessional. And he’s not being forthright. Is this good public policy?
His salary is not the issue. The $1.9 mill cut is, and so is the feigned surprise by Bonilla and others.
This site publicized what the DA said when this all began. How can they say that they are troubled now?
As far as good public policy, do you want to know what is going on or bury your head in the sand.
First 5 CCC gives most of its money to county departments that sit on the Commission and vote for it to do just that: give themselves money – with little or no oversight – which IMO means they misspend left and right!
First 5 CCC has over $40 million sitting in the cookie jar and they and their supporters have the nerve to tell people that “babies will die” and other massively exaggerations and lies.
First 5 statewide is saying that the cookie jar money is already committed and so the Prop 1D reduction will hurt kids, but anyone who has worked in nonprofits KNOWS that the Commission can just change where that money goes if they set it up as a Board vote, so that IMO, is a total LIE.
They will just use up some of the cookie jar money to cover the difference. According to one of my friends whose agency gets First 5 CCC money, First 5 CCC already voted to do this: if the Prop 1D passes, they have voted to use the cookie jar money.
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Susan Bonilla is just trying to cover for her fellow supervisors, who care little for law enforcement.
The problem is priorities. The supervisors need to be recalled. Cutting the DA budget is crazy… especially in a recession when crime goes up.
Cut health care, cut welfare, cut administration, but don’t cut the jails, the police, and the DA.
Why do blogs in Contra Costa County always attract the exteme conservative right? Is it because they’re (you’re) so out of the mainstream now, shrinking compared to where most of the US is heading, you’re desperate to sound off? This blog is often balanced; (thanks soccer mom), until you read the comments.
The comments about the CoCo Cnty Prosecutor’s Office are interesting. Here are a few thoughts: 1) The D.A.’s office should be educating us all along on business operations, workload and accomplishments. I would like to see an annual operating report to understand the issues. “Scary” headlines are difficult to really understand. 2) It sounds like the police are still going to arrest all criminal violators. So manybe the violators should be required to compensate the police and court system from the second they are arrested; included in the bond to get out of jail. At least the punks would have to pay more significantly to get out. 3) If the D.A.’s office is short of personnel either: 1) Implement a volunteer program for retired area attorney’s. 2) Implement an unpaid intern program with local law schools. (They might as well practice on the shoplifters), 3) Change a portion of the CoCo court structure to an “assembly line” process such as most large cities have for municipal court venues. In conclusion, all of the above might not work, but anything is better than giving up to the punks and thieves in our community.
Joe Citizen: Thanks for your well-thought out comments.
Dear Joe Citizen,
I appreciate that you’re thinking “outside the box,” suggesting solutions. As you said, maybe not all of them would work, or able to be implemented, but at least you’re offering ideas, throwing them out there, to address this problem. Which is more than I can say for our leaders, including Mr. Kochly.