The DA and ICE – Part 1 (A summary)

This week was filled with news about the relationship between the District Attorney’s office (and law enforcement generally) and federal immigration agents.

First, on Wednesday, a man was arrested by ICE agents in the courthouse after they were tipped off to his presence by a Deputy District Attorney (“DDA” for short). The defendant had asked the court to have his DUI case dismissed because the DA’s office hadn’t pressed forward with it in over three years, and unfortunately common situation in our county. Looking at court records, I was surprised to find that there are over 2,500 DUI cases that have been open for over 2 years in our county, and that are potentially subject to being dismissed the same way!

By Friday, both Birgit and John issued statements supporting the current policy of having DDAs call ICE to check on people’s immigration status while investigating cases, and expressed no concern about the implications of having people arrested in the courthouse, ahead of their hearings. I made my position clear – the District Attorney’s office has to follow the law, and California law doesn’t allow this sort of behavior. If Californians want their DA’s to call ICE, they should talk to their legislators about changing the law. But the DA can’t ignore the law that exists today.

Then, late on Friday, the legislature passed SB 54, a bill that significantly restricts law enforcement’s ability to communicate and work with federal law enforcement agents. If Governor Brown signs the bill (as he is expected to do), all California law enforcement agencies, including the District Attorney’s office, will face sharp restrictions on their ability to respond to ICE’s questions, and will be effectively barred from checking the immigration status of nearly all suspects and defendants.

While there is certainly room for debate about whether the bill goes too far (as some people believe) or not far enough (as others argue), that is an argument for the legislature. A District Attorney’s job is to enforce the law as it exists, with some discretion allowed as to where to focus limited resources. Over the coming days, I will be posting a series of posts that explain why I think the current policy embraced by Birgit and John is wrong, and what I would propose instead.

-Patrick

And Then There Were Three

The Bee wrote about John’s entry to the race this afternoon:
You’ve already seen Patrick’s statement on John’s entry, (you can read it again here:), but we should point out what John and Birgit say about one another. John correctly points out that Birgit’s leadership has led to dramatic turnover at the office, with one-third of the attorneys there having less than one year of experience.
 
Think about that. One in three D.A.’s trying cases in Stanislaus County have been an attorney for less than a year. Why? Because the turnover is so bad that the office can’t keep people who have a chance of escaping to another county. Birgit claims this is entirely due to pay, but these D.A.’s aren’t exactly fleeing to richer counties. The issue, as John (who has been training a lot of these younger lawyers, although he hasn’t had any experience managing them) knows. The work environment is so toxic that attorneys will do anything to get out, including giving up on their dream of being a prosecutor. The end result is a less experienced, less capable prosecutorial team, which means less convictions and more criminals out on the street, with lots of wasted tax dollars along the way.
 
In attacking John, Birgit correctly points out that he has never been seen in a managerial role. Even though John is one of the longest-serving prosecutors in the office, he has never had the experience of managing a team, much less a department. John has definitely racked up some big wins in court, but he now wants to leave that experience behind, costing our county another strong litigator and putting someone without management experience in charge of one of our most important agencies. That didn’t work out well when Birgit was elected, which led to our current problem. We shouldn’t do it again.
 
Our District Attorney’s office needs to change its internal culture, and to become a place that not only retains its attorney, but that gives them the tools to succeed in court. The agency needs a strong, proven leader who can build bridges, not the survivor of an internal civil war. As an outsider with proven management experience, Patrick can bridge both the internal divides that have led John to run against his once-favored boss, and the external breaks between the District Attorney’s office and the rest of the criminal justice community. At the same time, Patrick can restore good financial management and bring much-needed transparency to the finances and operations of the office.
 
This is not a time for more of the same. It’s time that we all joined in and made our county safer, together.

Contributions are open!

We’re happy to announce that our shiny new contributions page is live! The miracles of modern technology mean that you can participate in the campaign from the comfort of your home, without needing to write a check or go digging for a big fistful of dollars. Instead, you can just head over to our quick and easy online form, fill in a bit of information, and let our good friends at PayPal take care of the hassle, all from the comfort of your screen!

So what are you waiting for? Click on the “Contribute” link at the top of your screen or head directly over to pkforda.com/contribute, and show your support for Stanislaus County’s next District Attorney!

Welcome, Bee Readers!

We’re seeing a lot of new traffic to both this site and our Facebook page after Ken Carlson’s great article announcing Patrick’s candidacy. Welcome, everyone!

As you can see in the article, Ms. Fladager is not particularly happy to have a challenger, and claims that I don’t know much about how her office runs. But she still manages to concede that her office has problems, and seems to agree that my proposed solutions are the right ones, claiming that the office is in the process of rolling out a digital system that allows electronic discovery to criminal defense attorneys.

 

As a local criminal defense attorney with many friends in the DA’s office, I can say with confidence that her description of this system is… overstated, to say the least. I have never received a single piece of discovery electronically from a Stanislaus County DA, unless you count DVD copies of video recordings. There is no central system for attorneys on either side to electronically access the evidence in a case, and I have repeatedly had situations where the DA handling a case wasn’t sure whether evidence had been given over or not. Even if Ms. Fladager’s dream system is really being built, why did it take her eight years of “leadership” to recognize that there is a problem?

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the practice of criminal defense law in Stanislaus County has known for years that there are serious, endemic issues with efficiency and transparency in that office. It is time for someone to come in and fix these problems from the ground-up, someone who isn’t tied to years of mismanagement and mistakes.

Note, also, Ms. Fladager’s admission that her office has been losing attorneys left and right. Of course, she blames this on attorneys leaving for better paying jobs in bigger counties, but that’s provably not true. Later in the campaign, we’ll be providing verifiable data about where attorneys have gone after leaving our District Attorney’s office, which should include income comparisons for those who remained in public service. Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, welcome, and thank you for your interest in my campaign. We have a very long road ahead of us, and Patrick is looking forward to engaging personally with as many of you as possible. If you would like to have Patrick come to your church, social group, car club, quinceanera, or other group so that he can hear from directly you about what matters most to you and your loved ones in this race, please send him a message on our Facebook page, and we’ll make it happen!

Patrick Got A Mention In Jeff Jardine’s Column

Our first official recognition by the local media happened! Jeff Jardine’s column on the outcome of the Frank Carson case had the following little blurb:

But losing such a case and costing the taxpayers millions of dollars certainly would be ammunition for someone to oppose Fladager is 2018, should she choose to seek a fourth term. Carson will be arraigned April 24 and could refuse to waive time, meaning the case could go to trial within 60 days and possibly be over in time to affect the outcome of an election.

One candidate, Modesto criminal defense attorney Patrick Kolasinski, filed March 31 to run for DA, citing the department’s inefficient management along with the problems it has had with discovery – as has been a problem in the Carson case – and poor morale.

Politicians, including DAs, are elected officials who run on their records to get re-elected. The decisions they make today can be gold mines for their opponents tomorrow.

Well, at least the online version of the article had that quote. Jeff didn’t know about the campaign when he wrote the original version, so those who read the hard copy of the paper missed out on the announcement. But Jeff was kind enough to correct the oversight when it was pointed out to him, so readers of the digital version got the full story!

It’s Official! The 2018 District Attorney Race is on.

Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to visit us. I am Patrick Kolasinski, and if you live, work, or play in Stanislaus County, I want to be your next District Attorney. We have a long ways to go before the June 2018 election, but I know that, together, we can win this race and bring an era of accountability, transparency, and security to Stanislaus County!

Looking Forward

In the coming days, weeks and months, this site will be filled with information about my campaign, my platform, and all sorts of other fun stuff. For now, thank you for your patience, and please pardon our dust. Also, while you’re here, please take a moment to sign up to be a part of our campaign by completing our super-quick Campaign Sign-Up Form.