‘Recent Attacks on Adrian’s Competence and Character Don’t Sit Well With Me,’ Says Letter Writer
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To Whom It May Concern:
I’m a Humboldt County resident and one of many prosecutors and police officers who has publicly endorsed Mr. Kamada. My reason: When I worked with him in the District Attorney’s Office in 2018, I knew him to be hard-working, hard-hitting, and unflinchingly honest. Even then, he had the makings of an excellent District Attorney. I told him as much at the time, and was thrilled when he told me that he’d decided to run.
Given what I know of him, the recent attacks on Adrian’s competence and character don’t sit well with me. In fact, Ms. Fleming herself had assigned him a caseload that included some of the office’s most serious cases. It’s hard to fathom why she would have given those cases to an incompetent attorney.
He was also one of only a few attorneys in the office she entrusted with search warrant review – I was another. Because of this duty, Adrian had to become well-versed in issues related to informant confidentiality, since these frequently arise in search warrants. (The people we prosecute often don’t play nice with snitches.)
And after reviewing the memoranda published by Lost Coast Outpost, it astounds me that anyone with experience as a prosecutor would claim that Adrian violated discovery requirements. In simple terms, the informant statement couldn’t have helped the defense case and could never have been used by Adrian at trial. Because of that, the statement didn’t need to be disclosed.
Why? To begin with, the statement was based entirely on thirdhand conversations, which made it inadmissible as hearsay under Evidence Code section 1200. Additionally, the statement implied that Tanner had committed other murders, which made it inadmissible propensity evidence under Evidence Code section 1101(a). And the statement was anything but exculpatory. In sum, the statement fell outside of the Brady-line of cases that have interpreted constitutional due process, and outside of Penal Code section 1054.1, which defines a prosecutor’s statutory discovery requirements.
But since the issue of prosecutorial ethics has been raised, I think it only fair to discuss two cases the office charged in the brief period that I worked there. In the nearly ten years that I’ve spent working as a prosecutor in three different counties, these are the only two cases I’ve seen that were completely unprovable the moment they were charged.
The two cases were eerily similar. In both cases, the undisputed evidence the office had when the cases were charged showed that the “suspects” – both young men without significant records – used force only while they were being strangled by their “victims.” In both instances, the young men told law enforcement that they were in fear for their lives when they acted, and in both instances, there was no evidence showing that either young man was lying.
Even in California, we all have the right to do what those young men did: Defend ourselves against unprovoked, deadly force. As prosecutors, we’re supposed to know the law. This includes understanding the right to self-defense. And we’re not supposed to bring charges unless we have “probable cause” to believe that the person is guilty. In cases like this, a responsible decision to charge potentially life-altering felonies could not be made unless we had evidence disproving self-defense. In both cases, we didn’t have that evidence.
Now, mistakes happen, but what happened next was no mistake: In both instances, I brought my concerns about the charging decisions directly to the elected District Attorney. In both instances, the elected District Attorney decided to continue with the prosecutions. While both cases were ultimately dismissed for insufficient evidence, one of the young men spent at least part of that time in custody, waiting for the elected District Attorney to get better acquainted with his right to defend himself against deadly force.
Now, Ms. Eads isn’t the elected District Attorney, but she has hitched her wagon to Maggie Fleming’s legacy. Because of this, Ms. Eads insists that nothing’s rotten in the County of Humboldt. But charging decisions like these say otherwise; the violent crime statistics over the last eight years say otherwise; and the streets in Eureka say otherwise.
In the next two weeks, you will have a big decision to make. You can either vote for a continuation of the ideas and policies that brought you the last eight years, or you can vote for change. On June 7, please join me in voting for change.