Paul Gallegos: Dedication To Public Service – October 25, 2010
My office knows that we are the face of government that much of the public sees. Faith in a system of just laws and fairness requires us to conduct ourselves in an ethical manner. We cannot play favorites or prejudge outcomes. Our role is to seek the truth so that justice is served. Our deputies have earned the respect of the legal community and judges because we uphold those values in every aspect of the work, whether in the office or the courtroom.
In my execution of the management of the office, I have demanded of staff to be fair and to treat all people equally with the dignity due to a free people. For, in the end, we cannot have justice if we allow vengeance to pollute our judicial system. We depend on the certainty of the law to protect our rights, our security and our sense of fairness. Without that, we will be subject to the whims of individuals who wield power beyond their rights as citizens in a free republic.
As your District Attorney, I have pledged to do everything in my power to ensure that the enforcement of our laws is guided by one principle: that we are all equal. This is the essential value embodied in our Constitution. Our safety, both as individuals and as a vibrant society, depend upon upholding that value, despite the misguided public discourse that would encourage you to approach the world with fear.
I take pride in the office I have led these past eight years. Of the staff I inherited from Terry Farmer, 4 continue today, 2 were fired, and the remaining left of their own accord.
One of the Deputies that I was obligated to terminate is running against me in this election. While I am unable to state the reasons for her dismissal, I can say that the only reasons I would fire someone are if they are dishonest, unfair or incompetent. If they are any of these they cannot serve the people of Humboldt County by working in the District Attorney’s Office.
The Deputy District Attorney’s job is demanding, stressful and not well compensated. But our Deputies perform remarkably well by cooperating with each other, sharing tasks, and being aware of one another’s work so that they can help out as needed. Their days begin before 8AM and do not end until well after 5PM. Often they take their work home, preparing for the next day’s appearance in court. We never forget that we serve the public.
The office continues to thrive even though the budget has been cut, there is less staff, and we have increased the amount of filings. Be assured that if we are presented with facts from a law enforcement agency that a crime has been committed and it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then it will be filed. We never decline a case based on a lack of resources.
This kind of dedication to public service has been successful in bringing the worst violators to justice, whether they be perpetrators of violence, sexual molestation, or predators of the vulnerable among us, or corporate polluters of our environment. We have received awards for our investigative team, our Child Abuse Services, our Domestic Violence unit, including a recent unanimous Proclamation of Appreciation from the Board of Supervisors, and for our work with local tribes. Our conviction rates and commitment of violent offenders to prison are as high as ever on a budget that is the lowest in a decade.
The future looks good as well. I am creating a special team to specifically tackle cold cases, based on the methods honed by our stellar investigative unit to crack cold cases, like the Huntzinger disappearance. And, as crime has changed along with the changes in our society and technology, our computer investigations unit, which is the only computer investigation unit on the entire North Coast, continues to enable my office and other law enforcement offices to be able to solve cases and bring perpetrators to justice. We continually work to expand these abilities and will continue to set the bar for investigation on the North Coast.
In addition, we are developing our ability to present evidence electronically in court. We showcased this in the Belant case and the Skilled Healthcare case, where we were able to show the judge and jury actual documents so they were able to easily read appropriate passages and come to a just conclusion. We use state of the art technology to bring perpetrators to justice and will continue to develop our abilities in that arena.
All of our work is aimed at one goal: improving public safety and making Humboldt County a healthy place to live, raise our families and do business. Please join me in that effort by re-electing me as your District Attorney. Thank you.
Paul V. Gallegos is Humboldt County District Attorney.