Two former prosecutors for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office joined the growing effort to recall San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin on Monday, noting their concern over Boudin’s lack of criminal prosecutions and putting the public safety of people in the city at risk.
Several recall efforts have been in the works against Boudin since earlier this year. While the first recall effort failed in August, the second effort, fueled by people signing over high crime rates in the city and outrage over Boudin refusing to prosecute most criminals, garnered 83,487 signatures out of a needed 51,325 at the time of submittal to the elections board before the deadline on Friday. With the high number of signatures all but assuring Boudin will face a recall election next year, many more high profile San Franciscans have thrown their support behind the recall effort.
This included former prosecutors Brooke Jenkins and Don du Bain. They are two of well over 50 DA prosecutors who have either resigned or been fired since Boudin took office in January of last year, roughly a third of all prosecutors in the office. At a virtual press conference on Monday, both confirmed that they are joining the effort against Boudin due to, in part, his refusal to prosecute most criminals.
“He has proven that his policies and approach is anything but progressive,” said Jenkins, a former prosecutor in the homicide unit, on Monday. “To the contrary, his approach has been extreme and radical, and as a result we have seen crime increase, justice wane, and lives be lost.
“Public safety is not his focus. That is not his goal. Chesa has a radical approach that involves not charging crime in the first place and simply releasing individuals with no rehabilitation and putting them in positions where they are simply more likely to re-offend. Being an African American and Latino woman, I would wholeheartedly agree that the criminal justice system needs a lot of work, but when you are a district attorney, your job is to have balance.”
Jenkins pointed out a specific case in her statement, noting that one man who was charged with robbery, with 8 prior felony convictions, was released early, arrested four more times, and ultimately killed two people while driving a stolen car while drunk.
“The fact that killers may go free, just doesn’t sit very well with me,” added Jenkins.
Du Bain, a former prosecutor in the DA’s domestic violence unit, also noted his loss of confidence in Boudin.
“I have lost my confidence in Chesa Boudin to serve as our elected district attorney, because I’ve concluded that he selectively enforces the laws of the State of California according to his own political priorities,” explained du Bain on Monday. “He basically disregards the laws that he doesn’t like, and he disregards the court decisions that he doesn’t like to impose his own version of what he believes is just – and that’s not the job of the district attorney.”
“The office was headed in such the wrong direction that the best thing I could do was to join the effort to recall Chesa Boudin as district attorney. I take no pleasure in saying this. I didn’t want to be in this position. I consider Chesa a friend.”
Du Bain also noted a specific case on Monday, saying that Boudin ordered him to give a lenient sentence for a man who shot his girlfriend in the stomach. Du Bain, who believed that doing that would be a violation of California statutes, with drew from the case rather than prosecute with the severely reduced sentence.
“I’ve done 136 jury trials in my career – never, never withdrawn from a case before,” continued du Bain. “I’ve seen decisions made in this office in the last year plus, since Chesa took over, that shocked my conscience – and I’ve been a prosecutor for 30 years.”
Boudin’s office responded to the actions of Jenkins and du Bain later on Monday, saying that what they were doing was simply making things political and that they were spreading misinformation.
DA’s office refutes claims of former prosecutors
“We are disappointed that former staff members have chosen to politicize their departures and spread misinformation about DA Boudin, specific cases, and the hard work of our dedicated prosecutors and staff.” said the DA’s office in a statement. “All criminal cases are complex and certainly there may be disagreements on process, but twisting those disagreements for obvious political purposes does nothing to make our city safer or improve the pursuit of justice.”
Sara Yousuf, a DA’s office spokeswoman, added on Monday that “Almost all of the victim’s family strongly supported a finding of insanity. We are disappointed to see reporting of wrong and obviously politically motivated accusations.”
The two former prosecutor’s switch has been only the latest public disagreement with Boudin in the last several months.
Last month, a San Francisco Superior Court judge criticized Boudin from the bench for the stances of his office. The head of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, Tony Montoya, also noted his frustration with Boudin in a statement earlier this month, saying “Police are the bad guys, and the bad guys are the good guys in the mind of a progressive. Chesa’s good at the blame game. We’re going to call him Mr. Deflector because he’s always pointing the finger left or right and never at the man in the mirror. Open-air drug markets and homelessness, coupled with upticks in blatant daylight shoplifting, residential and commercial burglaries, shootings and other violent crimes, have left citizens starting to wake up to the reality that’s now become their nightmare as far as public safety and crime goes.”
Local citizens groups have also started to throw their support behind the recall effort.
“I’ll give Boudin credit,” said Elizabeth Chung, a neighborhood watch leader in the Southern part of the city. “We’ve had white people, black people, Asians, Latinos, old people, young people, Democrats, Republicans, men, women, straight, gay – everyone joining together at meetings complaining about how much Boudin is ruining the city. Very few people can unite such a diverse group of people. We actually had a meeting recently where I saw a few homeless people talking with a few tech millionaires about how much they dislike Boudin. It would actually be touching if it wasn’t for the reason that our crime rate is so bad and that he is letting pretty much every criminal off.”
Signatures on the recall petition are to be validated by mid-November. Should it be certified, a recall election would be held next year, most likely on primary day in June.