O’Malley Still Right for District Attorney

 

I’m responding to recent letters asking us to replace Nancy O’Malley as our District Attorney (DA), (“Local politicians endorse corrupt district attorney,” April 19. I offer the following rebuttal. O’Malley is the first woman to serve as Alameda County’s DA. She has been in office for 10 years. She is fair minded, but also a tough advocate for justice. One example of her fairness is evidenced by her dismissing nearly 6,000 old marijuana cases in the wake of the new state law legalizing possession and recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and older. 

She is an innovative DA who has focused on reform as much as on prosecution. She is a top, solid prosecutor who balances putting serious criminals in jail and diverting those with minor offences best served with social services or mental-health programs. O’Malley understands and advocates the balance between keeping the public safe by fighting crime of all kinds, particularly violent crime, while ensuring equality and fairness in prosecution so our criminal justice system does not discriminate and punish people unfairly. 

Her fairness, yet toughness, as a prosecutor is demonstrated by the great number of awards she had received since becoming DA. A few examples:

  • The San Francisco Collaborative against Human Traffic Modern-Day Abolitionist Award.
  • The American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Woman Lawyer Award. 

O’Malley was the first DA in our nation to receive this award that recognizes the accomplishment of women lawyers who have excelled in their fields, the receipt of which paved the way for other women lawyers. 

  • The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. 

Bringing justice for victims of child trafficking, O’Malley created the Human Exportation Trafficking Watch Program, the first in California. The program brings prosecutors, investigators and victim advocates together to address the needs of those who have been exploited. The program makes sure that the exploiters are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. 

O’Malley created a partnership with Catholic Charities of the East Bay to provide safe homes for victims of child sex trafficking. In addition, within her own office, she started a restitution program that ensure that those convicted repay their victims for the losses they suffered. 

She also established the Alameda County Family Justice Center, which provides legal, health, housing, psychological and other support services for victims at one, single location. This assistance helps further victims’ safety, recovery and well-being. 

O’Malley’s opponent has never been a prosecutor. She has spent most of her life as a civil-rights litigator, a worthy endeavor in itself, but not conducive to being an effective prosecutor. This opponent believes that the people of Alameda County do not want a prosecutor for DA. She says that she will only “pursue felony cases” by implication, excluding cases of drunken driving, car break-ins and some sex crimes. She will not seek the death penalty in first degree murder cases. 

Is this the kind of DA you want? 

Has O’Malley made mistakes? Yes. None of us is perfect. I question the most recent example of her accepting a $10,000 campaign contribution from the Fremont Police Officers Association while her office is investigating the conduct of Fremont police officers.Any perception of a conflict is to be avoided. Retuning the contribution will eliminate any suggestion of impropriety.

In spite of this error in judgement, O’Malley’s qualifications, experience and record dictate that she be reelected as our DA. 

 

Chester Richard Bartalini is a retired Judge of the Superior Court of Alameda County.