Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen seems to have intentionally tripped one of his challengers, Daniel Chung at the end of the first in-person debate for Santa Clara DA on Friday, according to video obtained of the date.
In the video, when Rosen and his challengers, Chung, a former Santa Clara deputy district attorney, and Sajid Khan, a Santa Clara County public defender were finished with the debate, Chung reached out to shake Rosen’s hand but Rosen did not return the gesture.
Chung is then seen stepping behind Rosen’s chair then shook Khan’s hand. On his way back to his chair, Rosen bent over to pick up his briefcase and extended his leg backward which Chung tripped over.
The debate occurred during National Crime Victims Rights Week.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, I currently believe DA Rosen intentionally tripped me,” Chung said. “I am gathering as much information as possible and consulting with my attorneys.”
DA Rosen later came to Chung and tried to apologize and did shake Chung's hand, according to Chung.
Rosen was not able to be reached for comment.
During the debate, the candidates discussed issues ranging from cash bail, ethics, the jail and prison population, how long it takes to resolve felony cases, and Brady violations.
Khan said when cash bail is set, those with low incomes can’t afford to pay it and wind up sitting in jail, contributing to overcrowding.
“We have to ask ourselves what is the charge that gets us to the outcome that we want to see? Is it a felony that gets us there or could it be a misdemeanor? Or could it be a restorative justice program, could it be mental health diversion or substance abuse diversion,” Khan said. “So that someone doesn’t have to step foot in our jails in the first place.”
Khan said that Rosen only claims to support zero bail.
“Mr. Rosen May stand up and say he’s fought against cash bail but the reality is that his office asked for cash bail for years and years and resulted in people sitting in our jails,” Khan said.
Chung said that the system for how cases move through the DA’s office is disorganized and needs to have a vertical system of prosecution where district attorneys take ownership of cases.
“It just goes on and on and on and no one takes ownership from the beginning, all the way to the end,” Chung said. “So that both defendants and victims get speedy justice.”
In 2017 report, a Civil Grand Jury found that of 49 counties, Santa Clara ranked last in resolving felony cases with only 47 percent of felonies reaching disposition within twelve months.
“Can you imagine a hospital where doctors and nurses are not trained on how to intake or diagnose patients? That’s what’s happening in the DA’s office,” Chung said.
Rosen told the crowd what integrity means to him.
“We have four values in the district attorney’s office. Service, hard work, transparency, and integrity. Integrity means two things. One is a high ethical standard,” Rosen said. “The other is structural soundness.”
Rosen said all of the decisions made in his office come from a position of strength of integrity and decisions are based on facts.
Cheng said integrity is firing prosecutors who sleep with witnesses and withhold evidence that causes homicide cases to get dismissed.
“Integrity means that we honor union contracts. Integrity means we do not alter timesheets as DA Rosen did to dole out thousands of administrative hours to his supervisors,” Chung said.
In 2011, Rosen granted extra admin leave to supervising deputy district attorneys (SuDDAs), who then used that time for days off and cash out vacation time, making up for an extra five percent in wages according to San Jose Inside.
Asked about mental health and substance abuse as DA, Rosen said Santa Clara is fortunate to have mental health courts.
“We were one of the first to have mental health courts. We have two judges who run the mental health courts where the focus is on helping those with mental illness, rehabilitate themselves and not get immersed in the criminal justice system,” Rosen said.
According to Rosen, thousands of individuals go through mental health courts each year.
Rosen thinks low-level drug possession should not even go through the courts.
“I think what would be better for people who are drug-addicted, is to not bring them into the criminal justice system at all,” Rosen said.
Rosen claims 10,000 drug cases have been referred to the public health department in the last year.
In closing statements, Rosen said as DA he works hard to pursue justice, promote reform, and enhance public safety.
“My office continues to help victims with counseling, food, and shelter. We have reduced incarceration in our county by more than 50 percent,” Rosen said. “I brought into the office a victim’s services unit that serves thousands of crime victims every year. I go to work every day eager to serve you and I look forward to continuing to serve you. Thank you.”
Chung said the people of Santa Clara County have lots of potential.
“When I’m elected DA, I’m going to be fighting for you no matter what. Whether you are left, right or middle I care about you. I know how to zealously prosecute and do it with integrity, competence, and compassion. If you care about justice, including racial justice for defendants, you also have to care about justice for victims. We need balance in our system. Defendants and victims deserve justice. If you want a good DA, you need a DA with good character.”
Khan was the last to give his closing statement.
“After the killing of George Floyd, there was an outpour in our city and county unlike any other. Demand for truly transformational change for Black lives to matter. For an end to the harms of police brutality and mass incarceration that have left generational scars on Black and Latino people here in Santa Clara County and beyond,” Khan said. “It’s time for a new direction. It’s time for a new era here in this place. It’s time for a fresh start and new ideas that move in a direction of justice, healing, safety, and dignity for all our people.”