It is hard to believe almost four years have passed since I became the first female District Attorney in Monterey County’s history. My first term has included the pandemic, social unrest, criminal justice reforms, and significant economic challenges to our county and country.
Despite these challenges, through my leadership the D.A.’s Office continued working diligently to protect all Monterey County residents. When other counties closed their courts during the pandemic, we worked together with our justice partners to keep the courts open and resumed conducting jury trials quickly. As a result, unlike other counties, we do not suffer from a backlog of cases in Monterey County.
During my first 2 1/2 years in office, we implemented groundbreaking new programs to ensure justice is served and victims are heard. For example, last June I created a cold case team which reviews decades-old unsolved murder cases. Since its creation, the cold case team has worked tirelessly and their dedicated effort led to the filing of 5 murder cases, dating as far back as 1981. We are currently actively investigating over 21 cold case homicides.
Additionally, I created a Conviction Review Unit which is unprecedented in our County. This Unit is tasked to review previous convictions where there are credible claims of actual innocence or the use of materially false evidence. When further investigation is warranted, we reopen a case to determine whether we have confidence in the outcome. We will remedy erroneous convictions to maintain the integrity of our criminal justice system.
My hiring and promotion policies have dramatically increased the diversity of our office, so that we look like the community we protect. I have increased the percentage of people of color who serve as attorneys in the D.A.’s Office. Two-thirds of the supervising investigators come from underrepresented groups. More than half of our attorneys are women.
I also created a Multi-Cultural Community Council comprised of representatives from local faith communities, the NAACP, LULAC, LGBTQ+, AAPI, mental health, a veterans advocate and a crisis service provider. Members act as an advisory committee to the DA so that I have a better understanding of their concerns and perspectives. Through the council we foster open communication and build lasting relationships in our community and beyond.
I have made sure that our office takes care of those who serve in the United States Armed Forces. Four of our attorneys actively drill with reserve components of the U.S. Military and I support the Veterans’ Treatment Court for those who deserve it.
During my term, I have made substantial progress in establishing a family justice center (FJC) by seeking to secure a space that would offer a broad spectrum of victim services, in cooperation with community-based organizations, all housed under one roof. When opened, the Monterey County FJC will enhance access to justice and life-improving services for vulnerable segments of our county.
I am proud to announce that my office has worked with a local sculptor who designed and selected, through consultation with a victims’ constituency, a Victims Memorial to honor the victims and survivors of crime. Once erected near our Salinas office, this sculpture will stand as an enduring testament to members of our community who have suffered the tragedy of crime.
In response to the unprecedented rise of opioid overdoses, I have partnered with The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and the Drug Enforcement Administration to form an opioid overdose task force.
Although we have accomplished a lot, my work is not done. I am excited to announce I plan to run for re-election in 2022 to serve another term as your District Attorney. I would greatly appreciate your support and endorsement so that I can continue to serve all residents of Monterey County and see that justice is served.