General Crime

* DA Elect Jeff Rosen Prepares for New Job as Santa Clara County District Attorney

Three weeks after narrowly defeating his boss, Santa Clara County prosecutor Jeff Rosen is working hard to sustain the momentum he built in the tightly contested district attorney’s race. The 42-year-old Rosen declared victory on June 11 with only 2,854 votes more than 56-year-old incumbent District Attorney Dolores Carr. Since then, Rosen has been making the rounds in the community to introduce himself and gather input from public officials, as well as judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, investigators, and crime lab staff before he officially takes over as district attorney on Jan. 3, 2011.  “I do have some thoughts and ideas about what I think is working well and what I think is not working so well,” Rosen said. “But I also think its important to include everyone in that conversation and gather as much information as I can. And not just from a small group of people, but sort of from everyone, and sift through that.” In a sense, this action is a reflection of Rosen’s campaign promise “A District Attorney for the People,” which means being a district attorney for everyone in the community, where everyone is treated equally, fairly and with respect, he said. “I think I will start out as a good district attorney, but I think  I’ll get better because I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m going to learn from them and I’m going to learn from other people and listen and I think that’s how you get better at anything in life,” Rosen said. Once he takes office, Rosen said he would like to restore the conviction integrity unit, which will examine old convictions to ensure that the individuals who have been convicted committed those crimes and investigate law enforcement practices to make sure they are professional and progressive in terms of minimizing false convictions. He will also seek to bring back the cold case unit, which will use DNA evidence to investigate unsolved murders, rapes and violent assaults. He said he will ensure compliance with open discovery, providing defense attorneys with full access to discovery.  Rosen said another priority is working with police chiefs, police officer associations, good government groups, the media and ethnic communities to find a new approach to handling officer-involved shootings. “I think that this is a very good district attorney’s office, but it can be better,” Rosen said. “It’s not just me. Everybody that works here wants the office to run better, to run more efficiently, to restore its reputation which has sort of been tarnished a bit in the last three years.” Rosen, who is a 15-year veteran of the district attorney’s office, said he believes it was his experience as a prosecutor “with a reputation for ethics and integrity” that ultimately helped him edge out Carr, who in 2006 was elected as the first woman to serve as district attorney for Santa Clara County after working as a Superior Court judge. Despite his criticisms against Carr during the campaign, Rosen said he has had limited interactions with her over the past three years. And although he and Carr may not agree on everything, Rosen said he intends to continue the parent project she introduced, a program that helps parents of out-of-control children. “Obviously I’ve had strong disagreements with Ms. Carr about how she’s running the office and what she’s doing,” Rosen said. “But I respect the fact that she was willing to serve, because it’s not easy running for office. It’s not easy being a public official and I certainly respect that.” One such disagreement is the handling of a 2007 case in which a 17-year-old girl claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a party in San Jose by members of the De Anza College baseball team.Carr declined to press charges citing insufficient evidence, a decision that outraged many in the community. Carr also asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the case, and that office agreed there was not enough evidence. Rosen said he plans to reopen and review the case. “If after reviewing the case and testing all the evidence we can file criminal charges, we will,” Rosen said. “If after reviewing the case and testing all the evidence we can’t then we’ll explain why we weren’t able to file charges. I think that’s just what the community’s entitled to.” In the meantime, Rosen has been preparing for a trial scheduled to begin in early August involving the 2008 murder of restaurant owner Mark Achilli in Los Gatos. It will be the last case in Rosen’s five-year tenure on the homicide team, during which he has prosecuted numerous cases relating to gangs, domestic violence, and even death penalty and cold cases. On his website Rosen claims to have one of the top conviction rates in the office, but his vision for the office next year is “more than a certain result in terms of the cases we prosecute. It’s how we prosecute those cases as well, I think that’s as important as the result,” he said. Outside of work, Rosen serves as the president of Temple Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, enjoys reading, working out, rooting for the Green Bay Packers and spending time at his Mountain View home with his wife and two daughters, ages 9 and 11. “I’m a pretty simple guy,” he said.

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