Lee’s shortage of funds is not surprising and seems to be of his own making.
His office has already received a rare sanction for stalling and failing to deliver evidence in the Santa Cruz Eleven case. Lee is appealing the $500 fine iimposed by Judge Burdick last January at a cost of thousands of dollars in a 49-page brief.
At a recent court hearing, Burdick urged him to spare the taxpayers the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars that a 2-3 week long felony trial for the remaining four of the SC-11 would cost the taxpayers.
The Santa Cruz Eleven were a publicity stunt by Lee in his “Shut Down Occupy Santa Cruz” prosecutions of 2012. He targeted peaceful protesters & falsely blamed them for vandalism at the (still)vacant Wells Fargo-lased bank structure at 75 River St. With no evidence–instead using subsequently discredited “conspiracy” charges and now a tortured “aid-and-abet” theory based on the act that the four were supposedly in the bank, even if they couldn’t have been shown to do anything else.
Since there’s no evidence that any of the remaining four individuals still being hounded actually vandalized anything, this costly trial (now postposted until March 2014) needs to be dropped, obviously, in favor of real public safety concerns.
Santa Cruz reactionaries, however, have been successful in diverting attention from the pile-up of real violent crimes that remain unaddressed. Instead they have focused on their own special scapegoat agenda to spotlight political protesters and homeless survival campers (raising the old Drug War red herrings with “needlemania”).
This kind of toxic hysteria now has official cover with Mayor Bryant’s “Citizens Task Force on Public Safety” which gathers “testimony” from like-minded bigots every other Wednesday to confirm its obsession with “enabling the homeless menace”.
Lee apparently feels he can do no wrong (even when a judge rules otherwise). He also seems to think the Board of Supervisors and the taxpayers will roll over every time he screams “crime!”.
Time to spend money addressing real crime instead of backing the bigoted agenda of those who want to criminalize the poor or inflate their own political profile.
This kind of pernicious panhandling is far more deadly and far more expensive than the sparechanging that shocks the merchants and rouses Take Back Santa Cruz to self-righteous fury.
Santa Cruz County’s top prosecutor declares emergency personnel need
By Calvin Men
Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ — In response to an unusually high number of serious violent crimes set for trial within the next two months, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee declared a personnel emergency for his office Friday.
In a letter to County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello, Lee notified her of the need to add attorneys to his staff because of the abundance of serious criminal cases headed to trial.
At least eight homicide trials are slated for September and October, an unprecedented number that is expected to put a strain on his staff, Lee said.
“Unfortunately, it’s just not stopping and it’s going to reach that conclusion where it’s thin ice,” Lee said in an interview. “If we take more steps without additional support, a case may fall through. Our ability to be successful, to get justice and hold people accountable would be compromised.”
By considering an emergency measure allowed under civil service rules, Lee is permitted to hire extra personnel without approval from the county Board of Supervisors for a period of 60 days — long enough to cover the upcoming trials, Lee said.
After 60 days, Lee will have to defer to the board for approving the extra personnel.
He said funding for the extra attorneys will likely come out of the county’s general fund. But he couldn’t say how many more attorneys will be hired, though there is already a list of candidates.
Each homicide case requires two attorneys dedicated to that case only, making them unavailable for other cases, Lee said.
His office has 33 budgeted positions but many of the attorneys would be largely unavailable because of the eight homicide trials, which include a gang-related homicide of a 14-year-old boy in 2011 and a 2009 murder of a homeless man on the river levee, both in Watsonville. There are also five sexual assault and attempted murder cases during the next two months.
Lee said the high rate of jury trials is due largely to suspects deciding not to settle cases.
After the 60-day period, Lee said he isn’t sure what will happen with extra personnel. He is expected to meet with the board to discuss future budgetary matters in January.
Follow Sentinel reporter Calvin Men at Twitter.com/calvinmenatwork