Note to self: When taking on my boss in a public debate, get some tips from Jeff Rosen.
The Santa Clara line prosecutor, who is challenging District Attorney Dolores Carr in the June DA election, got off a few zingers at Carr’s expense in a debate at Santa Clara’s law school last night. At times he even cracked up the audience.
Asked whether the candidates would accept contributions from criminal defense attorneys, Carr said she has, and that she didn’t think it would affect her judgment. She added that she wouldn’t, however, take money from bail bonds companies (unlike Rosen). “I do believe that is a conflict,” she said.
Rosen pointed out that Carr accepted cash from bail bondsmen in her last campaign, but that “now many of them are contributing to me.” The audience snickered.
UPDATE 3/31: Carr disputes Rosen’s assertion that she accepted cash contributions from bail bondsmen in the last election. In response, Rosen says that Carr might not have taken money but had a fundraiser thrown for her by a bail bondsman. Carr says that’s wrong, too. Rosen stands by his claim.
The line prosecutor kept Carr on the defensive, framing each issue as illustrative of her failures.
Asked what to do when the DA thinks a judge is biased against the prosecution, Rosen brought up Carr’s recent decision to blanket-challenge (free reg. req.) Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Andrea Bryan from hearing criminal cases.
Rosen tried to make hay with the fact that Carr’s decision has drawn national attention, referencing a New York Times article from last Sunday. (That probably says more about the NYT angling for Bay Area readers than it does about the national significance of the story).
“If I really disagree with a judge, I will appeal,” Rosen said. “That’s the American way. That’s the system of checks and balances that we have.”
Carr said being the DA means “the ability to make a tough decision even if it means criticism in an election year…It was the right thing to do based on the pattern and the evidence we had.”
Aside from dodging Rosen’s jabs, Carr portrayed him as an underling lacking a management track record and entirely out of his league. It’s one thing to address a jury or handle a dozen cases at a time as a line prosecutor, she said. “It’s quite another to lead an organization of almost 500 employees. These are entirely different skill sets.”
Personally, I’m trying to picture what it’s like when Rosen and Carr run into each other at the DA’s office. Awkward.