Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s office files about 40,000 criminal cases a year on behalf of 1.8 million residents in its jurisdiction. The agency wields broad authority to limit the liberty and even the lives of defendants it prosecutes.
So, it’s only fair for the public to know how the DA’s Office deals with wrongdoing by the people tasked with fulfilling its mission.
The First Amendment Coalition (FAC) contended as much earlier this year in asking for records of sexual misconduct involving employees at the district attorney offices of the seven largest California counties, including the 600 or so folks who work for the local DA. Each responded with varying degrees of transparency. And only one—the San Diego County DA—prompted the FAC to sue.
Through a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request of its own, Fly recently obtained the local DA’s response: a heavily redacted log of 30 claims from 2013 to spring of 2018.
There’s not much to see. All but seven incident summaries are entirely obscured by black bars; even those reveal just fragments of already brief entries. And no names are named. From what little we can glean, it appears there was one case still under investigation at the time of the CPRA request in early 2018—but no details were made public.
In June 2017, to cite another example, a consultant named Vernon Crawley sustained a claim about a supervisor giving unwelcome neck-and-shoulder massages to female colleagues, engaging in a sexual relationship with a subordinate and exhibiting “sexual favoritism.” In May 2016, someone in another case complained about inappropriate comments about race and sexual orientation in the evidence tech unit. The allegations were sustained and everyone involved got a letter about the findings.
In August 2015, someone heard an attorney using “sex talk” in the office. Assistant District Attorney Terry Harman spoke with the accuser, who denied grousing about “sex talk” but said some lawyers had been “unprofessional when they ‘talk loud’ and use ‘F-bombs.’” Whoever Harman spoke to made sure to say that she finds the lawyers “really nice,” and didn’t want to “make a big deal out of this” and insisted that she wasn’t “complaining.” Harman planned to resolve the matter by posting an advisory on the office bulletin board about behaving professionally at work.
In August 2013, someone accused a program manager of “sexual harassment/gender discrimination.” The complaint was sustained and finalized a year later. Three months prior, a law clerk trainee reportedly leered at a woman’s behind. Supervisor Mary Dimeo surmised that it could entail sexual harassment if the clerk was giving the woman “elevator eyes.” She reminded him of the policy, which, she concluded, “he understood.”