With respect to your May 9 article on the grand jury report on the jail, it is apparent a number of my responses to the grand jury's report were omitted or were presented in a manner that would cause the reader to reach a less than fully informed conclusion. In particular, I addressed the overarching concern that cases from the jail were not being charged.
No case submitted by any law enforcement agency can be charged unless the evidence available can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt at the time of trial as required by the U.S. and California Constitutions. Cases not meeting this standard are rejected or returned for further investigation. A case that has been rejected can be appealed by the jail. The process is set forth on the District Attorney Intake form which the jail completes when they submit a case.
Furthermore, there is a process of pre-filing review available to the jail and all other agencies where the agency presents the case in front of a panel of senior prosecutors who evaluate the evidence, critique the case and make recommendations for further investigation. Significantly, the jail never appealed the four rejected case nor availed themselves of the pre-filing review process even though this had been communicated to them previously.
Neither does the district attorney's office have sufficient investigative staff to cure the deficiencies in jail investigations. However, it was reported that should the board of supervisors add investigative staff that could be changed. The DA's office has recommended further training be given to jail investigation staff to improve the quality of their cases.
My office has and continues to communicate with the jail staff on a regular basis and at all levels. Furthermore, a prosecutor was specifically assigned to the jail over three years ago. If there ever was an issue of communication, all the jail staff had to do was telephone, email or come in to the office as they always have done.
The comment that the DA's office has three unfilled, but funded supervisory positions is wholly misleading. One of the positions is filled by the assistant district attorney, and because of budget constraints, the other two positions are filled by line prosecutors. When budgets became lean the office overhead was reduced to maintain staffing in the courts.
All are encouraged to read the complete replies to the grand jury reports which can be found on the district attorney's website under press releases.
Michael R. Keitz, Madera County District Attorney