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District attorney candidates field questions at forum

25 da election 1

Krishna Abrams, left, debates Donald du Bain during the Solano County District Attorney debate at the Fairfield council chambers, Thursday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | April 25, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — With less than two weeks before voting can start by mail and less than six weeks until Election Day, the two candidates for the only countywide contest squared off at their first joint event Thursday night.

Candidates for Solano County district attorney, incumbent Donald A. du Bain and challenger Krishna A. Abrams, answered a handful of questions in a format that was defined at the outset as “not a debate” and was largely devoid of verbal sparring.

For du Bain, the forum was a chance to repeatedly tout three programs he has started since being elected in 2010 in an unopposed contest – a truancy court, a family justice center for domestic violence victims and a real estate fraud unit.

When asked about crime prevention programs, Abrams, a veteran Solano County prosecutor, echoed du Bain’s endorsement of a truancy court for parents of elementary school kids who chronically miss class. Du Bain was quick to say the program he implemented was a top priority when he first took office.

Du Bain said he wanted to expand the family justice center, which has so far served 371 crime victims, from a 10,000-square-foot to a 30,000-square-foot facility.

Abrams faulted du Bain for his current handling of support for crime victims. Abrams told a crowd gathered at the Fairfield City Council chamber that the current District Attorney’s Office victim/witness unit was understaffed and “drowning” and needed more than a singe bilingual staffer.

Abrams frequently reminded the crowd that she had garnered the endorsements of most of the county’s law enforcement community, stressing her focus if elected would be prosecuting all criminals to the fullest extent of the law. She labeled that support as a “no-confidence vote” for du Bain. She also said her talks with cops included their complaints about how their cases, particularly misdemeanors and property crime cases, have been routinely rejected by the District Attorney’s Office.

The controversy into how du Bain and his top staff have handled the Dr. Susan Hogan coroner autopsy controversy was a special focus at one point in the event. Both candidates had been given one question before the forum, which was, “What should voters know about the controversy?”

Abrams told the crowd that more than 50 homicide cases were being impacted by the secret investigation into the competency of the doctor performing autopsies for the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office and that a judge had recently ruled that du Bain and his top staff had violated their ethical obligations by not disclosing details of that investigation with defense attorneys.

Du Bain focused on how he had spent more than a year developing the 37-page ethics policy about what law enforcement agencies share with his office and what his prosecutor share with defense attorneys, calling it the most rigorous policy in the state. Du Bain made no mention of questions about the implementation of the policy raised by at least one judge, and some defense attorneys.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or jsullivan@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.
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Discussion | 18 comments

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  • LoveMyCommunityApril 25, 2014 - 4:23 am

    For a more thorough and evenly told run down of each candidate's Q&A's, I would recommend reading the article Ryan Chalk wrote for the Vacaville Reporter. I'm not a Reporter fan, but since Jess Sullivan picks and chooses what he shares about the DA (and race) I prefer reading all the facts and sides and make up my own mind. Ryan Chalk covered the debate well.

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  • Reg ThorpeApril 25, 2014 - 5:52 am

    I agree with LoveMyCommunity; Sullivan seems to have a conflict of interest regarding these candidates. The Reporter has a much more balanced view in its reporting of this race.

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  • My2centsApril 25, 2014 - 7:05 am

    Ditto. Continuing to let Sullivan cover legal news after he has evidenced the he is not an objective reporter is irresponsible. The DR seems to care nothing for the quality of their paper at this point.

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  • Mayor SanchezApril 25, 2014 - 9:02 am

    I watched the forum. It was informational from start to end. The DR coverage plus the Vacaville coverage would be an almost complete coverage of the substantial points raised by both candidates. Too bad that newspapers limit the write ups. But the papers are businesses. They can't put every given answer on print. They reserve paper space for ads, their bread and butter. Voters just have to find time to either attend the forums or watch the TV replays to get the whole stories.

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  • LoveMyCommunityApril 25, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Really Mayor? You think Sullivan repeatedly leaves out half the story because of 'ad space'? SMH...

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  • Lisa EApril 25, 2014 - 9:46 am

    I agree definitely biased. No mention of the fact that DuBain is endorsed by those fighting for war veterans? As someone who has experienced this system past and present as a crime victim and advocating for crime victims I can honestly say it's bullcrap to say DuBain isn't fighting for true justice and sensitive to the needs of victims, ESPECIALLY child victims. The fact that cops who are charging people with felonies that are truly misdemeanors in attempts to destroy young people's lives and raise revenue and want to do so without accountability are endorsing Abrams, does nothing for me. Jim Frazier who cares about soldiers coming back from war and veterans and Dawn LaBar who is on a committee to help educate law enforcement about human trafficking endorse DuBain speaks volumes. I support DuBain because I know the Solano system as victim and advocate with and without him and it is better now.

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  • Rich GiddensApril 25, 2014 - 10:15 am

    I'm a vet----DuBain, Spring and others have done nothing but try to destroy me!

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  • Eye WitnessApril 25, 2014 - 8:51 pm

    What a crock of lies you spout! The DA's office consistently no files on a high percentage of cases at no fault of law enforcement! I read these the reasons for these "No Filings." Common theme......NO JURY APPEAL!! This is today's DA's office. Weak and soft! Get your facts straight and stop passing trash! Abrams for DA!

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  • 4JusticeApril 25, 2014 - 11:25 am

    The police do not ruin young people's lives - the person who commits the crime does that. People who commit crimes should be made accountable for their actions. Rather than touting the square footage of the Family Justice Center I would be more impressed with hearing that more victims actually received services at this location. Please take some time to research the number of domestic violence calls in our county and compare it to the " total numbers served". Keep in mind that this is only one of the services covered in that statistic. It is a great concept - but we are far from success.

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  • LoveMyCommunityApril 25, 2014 - 11:43 am

    4Justice, I would bet you are somehow involved in law enforcement. I agree with your comments, and if I'm correct on my bet, then you know how difficult it is for victims to come forward and also to follow through with their cases for a multitude of reasons: lack of resources if they leave their abuser; the system re-victimizing again and again; lack of education of law enforcement in human trafficking cases to identify the true crime, and then the long term effects this has on the children if they are bounced from home to home or in foster care. The Family Justice Center is doing very well. While I appreciate what the DA has done and Abrams have done in this arena to support victims, they both just have different views on how to improve services. Adding an additional bi-lingual victims advocate does nothing to keep the system from re-victimizing victims with no resources once they leave their abuser. Expanding square footage means getting more resources under one roof. Unless you've experienced this, you can never understand the shame and utter defeat these people feel. They need all the support and strength they can get - not just in court. The Family Justice Center provides that.

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  • 4JusticeApril 25, 2014 - 1:52 pm

    I hope you didn't bet the farm, Love My Community. I agree with many of your statements, but law enforcement I am not. I do support local law enforcement, especially the Fairfield and Vacaville Police departments in their efforts in advocating for victims of crime and their dedication to domestic violence and sexual assault victims. They are progressive, pro-active and provide much needed services to crime victims. I do not support having those victims re-victimized by the court system and being told "I don't believe you" by judges who do not understand the dynamics. I also cannot support duplication of services and financing a glorified referral system. Mr. Du Bain made a comment about domestic violence victims who do not cooperate, making prosecution difficult. I believe that if he truly understood all the roadblocks victims face, he would never had made that statement. When there is no trust in the system and the perception that they will not receive the protection they need and deserve there is simply no incentive to cooperate.

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  • LoveMyCommunityApril 25, 2014 - 2:10 pm

    Again, agreed. I would have liked to hear the 'why' to his statement though, as to why victims don't cooperate, making cases difficult to prosecute. That to me would tell me whether or not he understands the roadblocks - it's because of the roadblocks. (In addition to fear, possibly)

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  • Lisa E.April 25, 2014 - 12:06 pm

    Actually, cops frequently imbellish police reports and prisons are filled with innocent people based on those reports. Do you not watch the news of falsely ACCUSED people getting out of prison years, decades later based upon POLICE Investigations, biased, racist and false reports! of all kinds. I have friends in law enforcement and loved ones who have said, if ever accused don't talk to officers!

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  • KeepToTheTruthPleaseApril 25, 2014 - 1:16 pm

    Lisa: "...prisons are filled with innocent people based on those [embellished] reports." Why do you say that? You have no proof. This type of utterance makes everything you say suspect. Name just one innocent person now in prison because of an "embellished" police report.

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  • LisaApril 25, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    All differences aside what I like most about DuBain and the way things are handled now, he's not giving criminals breaks, he's allow them the opportunity to turn things around and take full ownership of their mistakes and recovery and this speaks volumes for repairing a broken system.

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  • Jose SixPacApril 25, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    Lisa: The only broken system I can see is a system which allows the unrestricted importation of criminals, and the unfettered breeding of more criminals. That is the system that is broken. Want to stop poverty? Stop importing poor people. Stop providing poor people with incentives to breed more poor people. Is this REALLY a difficult concept?

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  • Easy 123April 25, 2014 - 2:04 pm

    Unlike du Bain, Abrams actually talks to victims and works with them daily. Abrams has an outstanding record on victims' rights and seeking justice for them. If you survey the endorsements in this race it's obvious du Bain has the political establishment. Endorsements given out as political favors. Abrams actually has endorsements from the people in the trenches doing the work (law enforcement, sexual assault nurses, victims advocates).

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  • Been There BeforeApril 25, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    Please keep in mind, not everyone accused is guilty. duBain says under his administration they file charges on 91% of all people arrested. What about the person who claims they are abused just because they found their significant other cheating, or the false molestation allegation because a spouse wants child custody, or the neighbor who says a neighbor is selling drugs only because they don't like the loud music they play. Yes, that's all true. I am a retired police officer. What I know about Abrams is that she will dismiss a bad case, which is what she's suppose to do. Search for the truth and seek justice on those guilty. duBain has no back bone. He wont dismiss a case out of fear of pissing off the accuser or the cops. Little does he know, most cops don't care f charges are filed or not. Their job is to bring the case to the DA and it's up to them to take it from there.

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