Jan Goldsmith, candidate for city attorney, just sent me a copy of his five-point plan for better coordinating the city attorney and district attorney’s offices in San Diego.
Goldsmith has been endorsed by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, but he hasn’t been shy in saying he disagrees with Dumanis on certain things. At a debate last month, Goldsmith said he respectfully disagrees with Dumanis on whether the City Attorney’s Office should continue to prosecute criminal misdemeanors in the city of San Diego.
In his five-point plan, a rare example of an actual new proposal to come out of this city attorney’s race, Goldsmith points out inefficiencies he sees in the county’s prosecutorial system:
1. Create Joint Strike Forces to merge efforts against a specific target
Current problem: Criminals don’t necessarily fit neatly into the roles of either office n especially in the areas of gang violence and drugs.
Goals: Sharing of knowledge and expertise through joint debriefings; limit duplication; interchangeable appearances; coordination of gang restraining orders; better trial preparation
2. Coordinate guilty pleas and victim restitution
Current problem: Felons already convicted or who have pleaded guilty to a felony sometimes remain in county jail, rather than being transferred to state prison, because of a pending misdemeanor.
Goals: Get convicted felons who have been sentenced to prison actually transferred to prison; will save taxpayers money and will reduce jail overcrowding (and the early release of prisoners who should remain in custody)
3. Deputies from one agency serving “on loan” to the other
Current problem: Some deputy city attorneys would benefit from experience prosecuting felonies, and some deputy district attorneys need misdemeanor experience.
Goals: Better training for each office and development of lines of communication
4. Seamless case management through computers and liaison deputies
Current problem: The offices do not communicate well. The City Attorney’s office lacks an effective case management system. The two offices often end up dealing separately with the same attorney representing the same criminal defendant.
Goals: Eliminate duplication of effort on the same crimes or criminals; share information; coordinate plea agreements; better distribution of trial or motion caseload; create formal method of communication
5. Joint education and training programs
Current problem: Deputy city attorneys are in need of coordinated training programs.
Goals: Reduce the cost of training and develop lines of communication
Among the points in his plan, Goldsmith addresses the issue of felons who have either been convicted or have pleaded guilty, yet remain in county jail instead of state prison, because they also have a pending misdemeanor charge against them. In his plan, Goldsmith sets a goal of getting convicted felons to prison as quickly as possible.
He also suggests sharpening up case-management systems, creating joint education and training programs and creating joint strike forces between the two agencies.
“There is too much waste and inefficiency right now,” Goldsmith is quoted in his press release as saying. “Violent criminals are getting a break, and taxpayer money is being wasted because the offices are not coordinating their efforts.”
Goldsmith told me Deputy City Attorney Andrew Jones, president of the City Attorneys Association, who has endorsed him, agrees with the plan.