STATE OF THE OFFICE
February 2, 2012
There is a gap between what we say and what we do, between our ideals and our actions, between our talk and our walk. Our mission is to close that gap. And we will succeed.
This gap exists at the national level.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The values expressed in the Declaration of Independence represent our highest ideals as a nation. However, at the time the Declaration was written, on July 4, 1776, a large gap existed between those ideals and our country’s actions.
For example: Blacks were slaves. Women could not vote.
Our nation has worked hard to narrow that gap. In the 1860’s we fought a Civil War to narrow that gap. In 1920, we passed the 19th Amendment, giving women the vote, to narrow that gap.
This gap exists at the state level.
In 1854, in the case of the People v. Hall, the California Supreme Court held that Chinese Americans had no right to testify against whites. The ruling freed Mr. Hall who had been convicted of murdering Mr. Ling Sing, a Chinese miner. Three Chinese witnesses had testified to the murder. The California Supreme Court’s ruling was based on solid precedent. In 1850, the California Code of Criminal Procedure stated that, “No black, or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man.”
During World War II, we interned thousands of our Japanese-American citizens.
In 1945, five Mexican-American fathers challenged the practice of school segregation in Orange County California which forced thousands of Mexican-American children to attend separate, segregated, and not equal schools. The federal district court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the segregation of Mexican-American school children violated the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. California’s then Governor, Earl Warren, signed the law repealing segregationist provisions in California laws. Earl Warren was later Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and wrote the opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down the practice of school segregation across our country.
California has worked hard to narrow these gaps, and realize the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all our citizens – regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. However, our work is not done.
Criminal Justice System
This gap exists in our criminal justice system
The 6th Amendment in the Bill of Rights guarantees to the accused, the “assistance of counsel for his defense.” However, it was not until 1963 and the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, that criminal defendants were guaranteed the right to counsel in all criminal cases, not just death penalty cases.
And, it was not until last week in Santa Clara County, one of California’s original counties, established in 1850, that all misdemeanor arraignment courts were staffed with a public defender and a deputy district attorney so that all individuals and the People were represented at arraignment.
I would like to thank our Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Board President Dave Cortese, our County Executive Jeff Smith, and our Public Defender Mary Greenwood for helping our County narrow the gap between our ideal of justice and its reality. Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office
This gap exists in our Office.
Our values are service, hard work, transparency and integrity. Sometimes, we fall short, both individually and collectively, and do not realize these values through our actions. Sometimes, we talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
We must challenge ourselves and each other to be the best prosecutors, investigators, criminalists, paralegals, secretaries, and clerks, that we can be. We must challenge ourselves and each other, to live our values.
We are not just processing cases, moving files from one place to another. We are upholding the values of our society, of our country, of our way of life. Everyday, each one of us has the opportunity to act on those values of fairness and equal treatment under the law.
And, everyday, many of us are closing that gap, walking the walk, and strengthening the integrity within criminal justice and law enforcement.
Praise For Our Office
Everyday, many of you are working diligently and passionately for justice – for our victims, our witnesses, and our community. While you are fighting for justice, in court, in the trenches, to narrow the gap between our ideals and actions, I get letters, emails, and phone callspraising the good work that all of you are doing.
Everyday, I hear from victims, witnesses, police officers, judges, and other elected DA’s from around the state about the outstanding work we do here, every single day.
It makes me so proud to serve in this District Attorney’s Office, because our Office is a leader and a model to other prosecutors about how to do it the right way – to aggressively pursue justice in a way that is fair and respects everyone’s Constitutional rights.
Whether it is our legislative digest that is relied upon up and down the state;
Whether it is our path breaking and nationally recognized work in strengthening the integrity of our hard earned convictions;
Whether it is our expertise in threat assessment;
Whether it is our national reputation for prosecuting complex and multi-jurisdictional high technology crimes;
Whether it is the massive contraband seizures and significant drug cartel prosecutions of our MNVP unit;
Whether it is our successful and groundbreaking consumer, real estate and environmental prosecutions that have improved the lives of thousands of Californians;
Whether it is our aggressive prosecution of rapists, child molesters, child pornographers and human traffickers;
Whether it is the work we do with battered women’s groups to mitigate the damage done by domestic violence;
Whether it is the justice we have brought to long suffering families of murder victims through our Homicide and Cold Case Units;
These are only a few examples of the outstanding work that you are doing everyday for the People of this County, this State, and this Nation.
Today’s Awards Ceremony demonstrates and highlights concrete examples of how we are closing the gap between our values and our actions.
We can close the gap. We are closing the gap. Together, working together, we move forward from strength to strength.
On behalf of the People, whom we all serve, thank you, thank you.