tv [untitled] December 5, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm PST
>> she will present the district attorney's office on the review of san francisco rates for domestic violence. >> we flipped a coin. have you to be here this evening in front of of these commissions to talk a little bit about our work in the district attorney's office as it relates to domestic violence. as many of you know we have a vertical domestic violence unit as it relates to misdemeanor and felony prosecution. domestic violence notoriously difficult to prosecute requires building meaningful,
deep relationship with the victim so they will have the confidence in us to project them to the court proceedings and try to rebuild her family. it is a crucial element of what we do we are committed . to maintaining that. we have six attorneys to handle all misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases. santa clara also has vertical misdemeanor and felony prosecution approach. in the unit that we have, it handles about 270 cases a month. that is about a 100% increase in the last two years. we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases that we are handling as an office without increasing
our staff. we are also seeing an increase in the number of cases not resolving through plea bargain, that number is 92%. we are seeing dramatic increase in our work in the area of domestic violence, that 92% is just in the last year, calendar year 2011-12. santa clara as i mentioned that has a vertical misdemeanor and felony unit has hermetically more staff, both support staff and attorneys. they have over 306 two percent more support staff and 60 percent more attorneys. we have not had dedicated victim advocates, parlegals,
support staff. the attorneys carry the burden of building the relationship with the woman. they are seeing an increase in caseload and is becoming exceptionally difficult to maintain that meaningful relationship. we have seen a change in the public offenders approach to those cases moving away from a vertical dv unit spreading those cases to all attorneys. they have gone from having two misdemeanor public defenders to 12, further exacerbating the workload challenges that we are seeing now particularly in the misdemeanor domestic violence prosecution. as you may or may not know, the public defender's office handles about half of the cases that comes through the criminal justice system.
the remainder is handled by conflict attorneys or private attorneys retained by the defendant. we handle 100 percent of everything prosecuted. in addition to handling 100 percent of the cases we have responsibility for areas outside of the public defender's purview such as white-collar prosecution, victim assistance, criminal investigation. those are not obligations shared by defense counsel. we continue to push hard; we are doing good work but we are under resourced. a the district attorney has raised is concerned with the mayor and supervisor chu, and prepared a budget supplemental that we hope will alleviate some of the challenges that we are facing in the near term.
i will be happy to answer any questions that you have. >> i have a question. i read today that -- applied for grant money for investigators and prosecutors in the domestic violence arena. have you heard anything about that? >> we are always applying for grants. we just received one in conjunction with the departmental staff to help english deficient victims. when the case is coming to the police department the police evaluate the danger of possible death for the victim and allows for a portion of attorney positions and advocate but not investigator. >> when the victims are initially on board with the prosecution after the arrest, there is a substantial majority of the time when the picture changes his or her mind, can
you tell us about the difficulties that prosecutors deal with in that situation and what support they are getting from witness victim advocates and those prosecutions? >> this is really a very volatile experience. generally somebody's robbed or suffered some other type of crime; the actors often committed by a stranger. in domestic violence by its nature is committed by a person that they deeply loved. we are asked to navigate to personal relationships. one of the huge challenges we face are delays in bringing cases to trial. we have three attorneys. we have to finish one trial before we can begin the next. we have extended exposure to their batterer and maybe change your mind about wanting to proceed. with changes in the law it is extremely difficult for us to
continue with the prosecution without evicting that is interested in proceeding. in the past with call police officer and the relay what information they took at the scene that is no longer acceptable as evidence. without the vacant you often don't have the ability to put together the evidence to persuade a jury. it is critical for us to keep the victim engaged in the process, one, for his or her safety but ultimately to secure an outcome that will protect them in the long-term. to do that our office, and jean should be commended for this, requires that we contact every single victim personally and we do that the attorney. jean goes to the file, gets a round of calls, she assigns them to the attorney, they give around calls, and we try to maintain the level of communication with the victim and bring them in to the victim
advocates who will be to the victim either at the hall of justice or other places, often in people's homes or in another safe place that they feel is appropriate. we really try to be accessible and available to the victims in a way that is most comfortable to them. however in the process, as we have particularly seen in the last less than six months the change in the public defenders assignment of the cases, our caseload makes it almost impossible to keep that level of touch with the victims and we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of victims that are uninterested in proceeding when we arrive at the point of trial. -- for us, we know from having done this work with lowercase lows that when we have the opportunity to speak to generally the woman but the victim in the case and build
that relationship through an advocate, an investigator or an attorney we see much higher interest in prosecution, and a much high conviction rate as a result of that. >> commissioner shorter. >> it in clarify for those watching from home who jean is? not everyone knows. so you can be on tv too. >> good evening my name is jean roland,managing attorney for stalking, domestic violence and physical elderly abuse. >> i do have a question for you both. just to clarify, while you are working under staffed in terms of your ability to provide all services, as we would like to victims, just to
clarify, it seems the weight in which victims become engaged with the advocacy organizations of those programs providing services including shelter and beyond, that first link really comes through the district attorney's office. unless the victims themselves call those agencies. but certainly you are all helping to assist if persons want that type of support. >> i think that i would have to attribute that to a joint effort by the scu unit as well as the district attorney's office. the first point of real contact that dv victims have are the inspectors and svu. once inspectors make the initial contact that is where the trust begins. once that trust is established
it is turned over to our office where our attorneys try to maintain that trust. honestly, with a number of attorneys that we have it is very difficult to maintain that. as we know it is not just the perpetrators who continue to have power and control over the victims but there are families and relatives out there for the defendants who also apply a lot of pressure on the victims. i think that one of the most crucial points in prosecuting dv cases is when the victim begins to turn away from us, the prosecution. i honestly believe t we need more resources because at that point in time it is not a matter of us letting these cases go. i think we have defined other means to be able to pursue these cases even when victims don't always cooperate or even when they don't come in to
testify i have to believe that it is not always because they are not telling the truth. i think a lot of it has to do with recanting, minimizing, and quite honestly they are very dependent on their abusers. there are a lot of different situations. it is incumbent upon us to find out what those reasons are before we let these cases go. so we need more resources in order to be able to find other types of evidence that might be out there in order for us to continue to prosecute these types of crimes. >> thank you. >> one other thing on victim advocates, may not be obvious to everyone what they do. they said done with the victim and discuss with him or her what will happen. they will help them get mental health counseling, counseling
for the children, help with relocation is required, a whole area of services that we offer through our victim services unit. they don't require that its case be charged. even if an individual the size it is not safe to move forward we can still offer services that units especially in domestic violence at a very high rate. >> the victim's unit that you described, is that house and district attorney's office? >> yes. highest caseload comes from the domestic violence cases. >> commissioner loftus? >> i have to say jean roland trained me. what jean said always was
even if you have a high caseload you put your victims name on the chart in front of your desk and you call them every week and you find out how they are and you find that what is going on in their lives. it is not like -- it is essential to hold batters accountable and keeping people safe. gene is not someone who makes excuses and demand that kind of performance. those three das are there to do the arraignment in the morning, 9-12 they are raining all the cases, doing bail hearings. they arrange a new case;
it was my experience even better days when we had better staffing levels by the time you get back to your desk as a prosecutor you haven't even had a sandwich you pick up and call the victim she has heard from someone in the public defender's office telling her what may or may not be true about the system and we are committed in the way that we are to prosecute these cases i really command -- and president chu to talk about the staffing levels and volume matters if we want a system that works for victims. it takes times. thank you jean for everything that you taught me, and i'm glad that we are talking about these issues so we can find a way to solve them. >> what percentage of domestic violence victims eventually recant or do not want prosecution? >> it really is difficult to put a percentage on it. i would say it is a high
percent. even the trials that we take out, i know that at least half of them that we have done this year is without a victim. we are relying on other means to prove those cases. those are just the ones that go to trial. the want to do make it that far as we don't have any evidence or the victim is recanting, it is much higher. >> on the evidentiary side, we had a domestic finance cases, the first piece of evidence was a 911 tape when the victim complained and that is no longer admissible. explain to the public a little bit about what is happening in light of the supreme court decision on the confrontation clause and how it affects your ability to bring cases forward. >> the best case that can explain it is when i was prosecuting domestic violence cases it was back in 2003,
before the supreme court ruling on crawford. it impacted a lot of different crimes. talking about domestic violence. in 2003, when i was prosecuting domestic violence i was able to walk into a courtroom even though the victim did not come in to testify and would not testify. i was able to take the recording - and it was a tape cassette at the time - from the police department. the inspector would interview the victim onset and i would take that take, put it into a tape player, push a button, and the jury was able to listen to the victim's statement on a recording even if the victim did not comment. when the supreme court crawford case cannot in 2004, we were not able to do that anymore. the supreme court decided that the defendant has the right to confront his accusers, and in this case we are no longer able to play the recording of
the victim statements unless the victim is present in court and testify and be subject to cross-examination. after that ruling there has been a lot of subsequent rulings trying to define what testimonial evidence is. the 911 cds were huge one. i believe the 911 statements actually come in currently because they are also considered spend any statements. any statements made under the excitement of stress of the situation which as you can imagine many 911 calls would sound very urgent or if they are in hushed tones it would also come in because it would indicate that the victim is talking in whispering tones because they are in fear. those statements are allowed into evidence most of the time.
so, with that, what we end up taking to court or trial, some statements, a few fragments of the whole picture really. fragments of what the officer at the scene captures from the victims and fragments and statements from the 911 cd. sometimes that is all that we have in order to prosecute these cases without a victim. >> thank you for pointing that and thank you jean for the great work that you do a domestic violence prosecutor. you are true hero. thank you. >> thank you for listening. >> commissioner turman? >> commissioner turman: i also want to clarify that in that situation, the example you gave, even the officer's testimony cannot comment other than either because the actual
interview process is not an excited statement. it's not even a business record that also gets passed. that also invokes the confrontation clause, that is that correct? >> correct. -- >> it depends on how the officer captures the incident in his memory and in his report. if the victim say is in tears, crying, shaking, visibly affected, and the officer is on scene right away and sees her physical appearance, we can argue in court that many of the statements made by the victim at that point in time
is considered spending statement. it depends on the judge. and how the officer captures it on his report. >> thank you. >> further comments or questions? >> commissioner -- >> i have a question regarding our different conversations that we have had the opportunity to pursue with advocacy organizations. we have heard a lot about the challenges that many communities in san francisco face do to language barriers. i'm curious about the impact that is having on the cases. >> i can tell you the prosecution side of it.
i think it is much harder to prosecute cases when there is a language barrier because we are going through multiple levels. the issues that i have seen is that statements from the victim are not accurately translated; or, the best way for me to explain it is that when you speak a different language the translation of one word can mean different things. and it can mean slightly different things. so one interpreter may translate the word one way. say, "push." another interpreter may interpret the same word saying it was "a hit." we now have two inconsistent statements. one of the things i see in trial all the time, rightfully
so, the defense is doing their job. they are pointing out inconsistencies. we can argue that they are not inconsistencies because of language barriers but it depends on how the jury will see that. when we are presenting cases to the jury they have in their mind that the victim was inconsistent. first she said it was a hit, no she says it is a push. a third interpreter is saying it was a slap now that she's testifying on the stand. which is it? beyond a reasonable doubt, is complicated. the other issue is when the victims don't come in to testify. it's even more of a barrier for us to get past all of the language issues to be able to bring any of the others out in trial. it is very difficult.
>> thank you so much jean. i am sure that the people who are cramming for evidence finals would be well advised to watch the segment. >> thank you christina. >> next we have an update of the justice system, justis. from linda young. pieces of evidence floating or a longtime. i imagine everyone is trying to get the bad guy. there are pieces floating around, not everything came together. thankfully to the dogged persistence of -- especially when linda young, being able to pull the pieces together we are pretty much there. there will be more tweaks coming along. >> good evening commissioners.
thank you for inviting the city administrator's office. my name is linda young, deputy city administrator. i will discuss quickly the justis project. the transfer of function to the city of ministers administrator's office which occurred in march, 2011. our mission is to support the criminal justice department and need to share information in compliance. the justis project is to provide sharing data get abilities,
provide individual case management system to address departmental business needs for the police department, the sheriff department, district attorney's office, public defender, adult probation and to connect the court system. the city administrator is the executive sponsor and will provide oversight and operational decision making .the council provides budget decision-making. the technical steering committee meets on technical issues and we do that weekly. some of the development since the transfer of functions. at the time of the transfer from a staffing perspective the program only had four feel positions out of eight budget it.
since that time we promoted to of our own staff and added two for a total of seven. increased from four servers to 28 serves. we implemented bm ware, built two portals. the sheriff department was able to update their new release of jail management system. we work with the district attorney's office to implement the new subpoena model using police resources and mgis data. for the public defender's office would connected the system to the hub. we had a new application for the council direction for the sf police department, the sheriff department, courts and da.