Having the boss’ backing is always a good thing.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr confirmed this afternoon that Deputy DA Benjamin Field — yesterday a State Bar Court judge recommended he be suspended for four years — will remain on her staff.
After the jump, a second reason to think this DA's office is the only place with any job security nowadays ...
“From our standpoint,” Carr said, “Mr. Field has a right to appeal the judgment. He has told me he will appeal the judgment, and he has the right to maintain his position in the office … and will stay employed pending the results of the appeal.”
That means Field will continue working in the office’s high-tech crime unit, which Carr said handles such things as identity theft and trade-secrets theft. Carr said he has been in that unit for the last two years.
Field could be secure for a long time, seeing as how he would first appeal to the State Bar Court’s review panel and then to the California Supreme Court, which has the final say about affirming, increasing or reducing his punishment.
Field, 44, was once the office’s bright young star, prosecuting high-profile criminal cases involving rape, murder and other serious crimes. But his star got tarnished after allegations arose that he disobeyed judges’ orders, concealed exculpatory evidence and abused his prosecutorial authority in four cases beginning in the mid ’90s.
State Bar Court Supervising Judge Patrice McElroy’s recommendation of suspension was the hardest blow yet.
Field declined to talk to the press yesterday and didn’t return a call today, but Carr said he took the ruling “very hard.”
Asked if there might be cases Field wouldn’t be allowed to handle, Carr would only say she and her staff are “still digesting” Wednesday’s ruling. Field would be assigned to whatever position “he should be in,” Carr said.
Carr wouldn’t comment on the State Bar Court’s ruling, but said she respects its authority completely.
The ruling, she added, “is a very sobering reminder of what I tell my lawyers repeatedly. We have tremendous power as prosecutors, but we have to work within legal and ethical guidelines.”
“One of the things I’ve done is institute more training and oversight,” said Carr, who became DA in 2007. “I very much believe in holding my attorneys accountable. We really need to look at these types of situations very seriously and understand that we have to guard against being overzealous.”
Field’s proposed suspension isn’t the only blow the Santa Clara County DA’s office has suffered recently. Last month, Deputy DA Peter Waite was publicly reproved by the State Bar Court for concealing expert testimony in a 1999 murder trial.
Carr said today that Waite told her he doesn’t plan to appeal that ruling. She also said he will keep his job, too.
Carr said it was important to point out also that “all of this conduct, including Mr. Waite’s and Mr. Field’s, occurred under the prior administration. So what happened to them is a personnel matter that I can’t discuss.”
— Mike McKee