Seriously misleading

By Michael R. Keitz - Madera County District Attorney/Guest CommentaryMarch 14, 2013 

David Linn's "guest commentary" in the March 6 edition of the Sierra Star, regarding drunk drivers seems to be intentionally and seriously misleading, and diminishes the work to achieve justice for the people of Madera County by my dedicated and hardworking staff.

For the District Attorney's office to bring a case to trial, our Constitution requires that we prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest legal standard imposed by the laws of our land. To begin with, not all cases that come to our office meet this standard, and some need to be returned to the submitting law enforcement agency for further investigation.

Other cases are dependent on laboratory results from the Department of Justice - Bureau of Forensic Services in Sacramento, which is seriously backlogged. There are some cases in which we have waited for almost 12 months to get critical evidence results necessary to prove guilt at trial. What Mr. Linn fails to recognize is the fact that the overwhelming majority of cases that come into our office reach the courts in 30 - 90 days. This is a remarkable feat considering the high case load my staff experiences while working to overcome budget cuts that have reduced staffing levels in my office.

Additionally, Mr. Linn conveniently ignores the fact that my office was recently awarded a grant from the State of California, Office of Traffic Safety. This grant is part of a statewide program designed to focus on felony DUI and drug induced driving, which is an emerging trend. This new grant was highlighted in a Sierra Star article published on Jan. 10.

Mr. Linn's commentary is nothing more than a personal attack on me intended for some level of political gain and ignores all the successes the District Attorney's Office has achieved under my direction. For example, Justin Rice was recently convicted of three counts of second degree murder for driving under the influence on Highway 41 and is pending sentencing. Richard Farias was sentenced to 35 years to life for a conviction of gross vehicular manslaughter caused by his driving under the influence. Morrie Kiseloff was sentenced to four years in state prison for felony vehicular manslaughter connected to his driving under the influence causing the death of another. There are many more. However, my point is made.

In conclusion, driving under the influence cases have always been a high priority for my office as have all cases to ensure victims, their families and the people of Madera County receive the justice they deserve. What is unwarranted is Mr. Linn's rhetoric which seems to be based on personal gain, rather than the rule of law and securing justice for all victims of crime.

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