Signs of the old guard are still around, but S.F. District Attorney Kamala Harris showed off her recently promoted chiefs at a press conference this morning. (Pictured left to right: Braden Woods, Sharon Woo, Kamala Harris, David A. Pfeifer, Paul Henderson and June Cravett)She didn’t deny (nor come right out and say) that the personnel shuffling earlier this month was partly prompted by the evidence tampering scandal at the police drug lab. But she emphasized that some longtime prosecutors in the office decided to retire by June 30 in order to take advantage of a wellness benefit.
“It was sad for us that some of our veterans had to leave,” Harris said. “But there are others who are veterans of this office who have the experience and who have earned the promotions they have received.”
Harris’s new chief assistant, Pfeifer, has worked in the office 20 years. He replaces Russell Giuntini. Woo, the new criminal chief, had been narcotics chief for six of her 10 years there (she was an assistant district attorney in Santa Clara for 10 years before that).Cravett, a 14-year veteran, moved up to Pfeifer’s job as chief of special operations. And Woods was tapped to lead the homicide team.
Asked about cases affected by the city's drug lab troubles, Harris said her office is reviewing seven cases in which former criminalist Deborah Madden testified following her 2008 misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence in San Mateo County. And the DA’s office has also sent letters to defense attorneys alerting them to her involvement in 1,700 cases going back to 2005, she said.Harris dropped hundreds of narcotics cases in the wake of the scandal, but she said the office has stopped dismissing cases and is in the process of re-testing drugs to re-file some of them.
Asked about the backlog in the lab's DNA unit, Woods said it’s just a funding problem. “The quality of the work has never been an issue in the DNA lab,” he said.