Freitas pledges to let assistant prosecutors do their jobs

Ron Freitas has a simple plan to make the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office more effective in pursuing justice and maintaining law and order.

The DA challenger in the June 7 election wants to let the assistant district attorneys do their job.

“I would walk away from the assistant ADs and let them do what they were trained to do,” Freitas said.

Freitas is referring to incumbent DA Tori Verber Salazar’s policy changes in recent years on how his office handles lifestyle crimes and handles low-level crimes to reflect restorative justice goals.

Verber Salazar resigned in 2020 from the California District Attorney Association due to his belief that the organization opposed criminal justice reform.

She then aligned herself with two high profile DAs at the forefront of the restorative justice movement – ​​George Gascon of Los Angeles and Chesa Boudin of San Francisco. The two district attorneys ordered their assistant prosecutors not to prosecute a multitude of crimes, not to appear at parole hearings challenging the release of convicted murderers, not to pursue sentencing improvements such as those that add years of sentence served by documented gang members, and have been accused by victims’ rights groups of ignoring victims of crime.

Freitas, a 34-year veteran of the DA’s office whose experience runs the gamut from directing the office’s homicide prosecutions to finding ways to try to keep minors from becoming repeat offenders, said Verber Salazar has created a climate where felons see the DA’s office has created a “free get out of jail card” for them in San Joaquin County.

“That’s not what she told people she would do when she was elected,” Freitas said.

Verber Salazar — now in her 8th year as the county’s chief prosecutor — did not advocate shifting her office into restorative justice mode during her initial campaign in 2014 and subsequent re-election in 2018.

Its alignment with what Freitas calls “San Francisco-style justice” happened just two years ago.

Freitas intends to focus on law enforcement, early intervention and justice for victims.

It is a three-pronged approach which, he stresses, does not abandon efforts to try to get to the root of criminal behavior and nip it in the proverbial bud.

This is because it is committed to strengthening proven methods of producing results rooted in intervening with young people at an early age through education and providing alternatives to gangs. It also involves tackling “broken window crimes” – which, if left unsolved by law enforcement, often set the stage for the plague to create fertile ground for more serious crimes.

While working on cases involving juvenile criminals, Freitas was acutely aware that those he dealt with almost never graduated from high school.

That’s what prompted him to serve on the Lodi Unified School District Board of Trustees since 2012.

Freitas gets the endorsement of 15

law enforcement agency groups

Freitas has been endorsed by 15 local, regional and state law enforcement groups. The list includes the Manteca, Ripon, Lodi and Stockton Police Officers Associations as well as the San Joaquin County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the SJC Probation Officers Association and the SJC Correctional Officers Association.

The majority of assistant district attorneys who participated in a poll indirectly endorsed Freitas when they voted against the current DA.

Freitas has also gained support from firefighter associations including Manteca, Lathrop-Manteca, Lodi, Tracy and Stockton.

A graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review. He served the citizens of San Joaquin County as an assistant district attorney, assistant district attorney supervisor of the Gang Violence Suppression Unit, chief assistant district attorney of the homicide and gang divisions, and prosecutor deputy district.

Throughout his career, he attempted numerous gang-related murders and violent crimes. In San Joaquin County, he was the first to admit DNA evidence with a Kelly Frye hearing and attempted the first two double jury trials. He was also the first to use a special gang circumstance to secure a death sentence. He oversaw the first gang-related wire surveillance operation. He is co-founder of the San Joaquin County Gang Violence Prosecution Task Force and founder of the San Joaquin County Homicide Task Force, San Joaquin County Evidence Task Force and of the San Joaquin County Grand Jury Task Force.

As head of the Homicide Division, he assisted in the investigation, indictment and oversaw the prosecution of more than 150 murders, including the kidnapping, rape and murder of eight-year-old Sandra Cantu (2009), l kidnapping and murder of Dalene Carlson (2011), and the West Bank Bank robbery, crime-murders (2014). In 2012, he successfully argued in the California Supreme Court that autopsy reports are not testimony in People Against Dungo (2012) 55 Cal.4th 608.

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