I am an attorney at law and have been one since December, 1976. Recently, my feelings and beliefs about my profession drastically changed when I read Bill Coate's series of articles in the Madera Tribune about Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz' lawsuit against the county and the People of Madera. The lawsuit is to prevent the county from releasing a document that has become known as the "Rowley Report" to the press and therefore to the people of our county. I think Michael Keitz needs to be reminded that he works for the people of Madera County.
Another story in the Nov. 29 Sierra Star, said three lawsuits against the county and Keitz by former employees of the DA's office, had been settled for $750,000. Those lawsuits alleged the former employees had been the subjects of retaliation, discrimination and harassment with Keitz's promotion to district attorney and his bid for election.
A quick review of Mr. Keitz' lawsuit against Madera County shocked me because of his audacity to sue the county and its taxpayers and keep secret the Rowley Report, which studied his conduct and management practices. The report cost the taxpayers $30,000, and has been hidden from the public eye for two years. What is Keitz hiding?
Furthermore, I am greatly troubled that Mr. Keitz' mismanagement of the Madera County District Attorney's Office, has resulted in millions of dollars being paid to former employees, to settle a number of lawsuits with thousands of dollars of county funds to defend Mr. Keitz. I feel this has resulted in the virtual destruction of what used to be one of the most professional, dedicated and effective district attorney offices in California and has resulted in a great miscarriage of justice imposed upon we the people.
What really offends me now, is a nagging question -- How dumb does he think we are?
As the district attorney, Keitz's name is listed on every criminal case filed in our county as the attorney for the people. He now chooses to prevent the same people that he supposedly represents from receiving important information about himself including his legal and management abilities.
I must have been mistaken -- I thought that the public is the people of Madera County and that we are the district attorney's clients. Michael Keitz clearly states "I object to the releasing of the confidential and privileged Rowley Report to the public" in his crafty legal maneuvering to keep the report secret.
Both Mr. Keitz and his attorney talk in terms of the irreparable harm, which will be done if the Rowley Report is released to the public. Meanwhile, prosecutions are down, crime is up, and our D.A. hasn't seen the inside of a court room since he was appointed to office. In Keitz's lawsuit against the citizens of Madera County he states, "Irreparable harm will be done to privacy rights, as well as to the public trust, in the integrity of the attorney client privilege if the Rowley Report is allowed to be released to the public."
We can only wonder -- Didn't he really mean to say irreparable harm will be done to his reputation, as well as to the public trust in him and the integrity of Michael Keitz and that of the district attorney's office?
How much more will the citizens of Madera County have to pay to protect the already soiled reputation of Michael R. Keitz, its district attorney?
-- David Linn has been practicing law in Oakhurst since 1979 and is married to Betty Linn, publisher of the Sierra Star.