SF DA Putting Victims First?

Heather Knight reports for the SF Chronicle:

As [SF DA Chesa] Boudin faces a June 7 recall, it’s important for voters to understand what he promised and whether his office is delivering. And four former staffers and one current staffer in his Victim Services Division told me that victims are regularly not updated on progress in their cases, meaning their voices remain unheard as prosecutors work quickly to resolve them.

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The [victim] advocates who talked to me said the changes in the [Victims Services] office happened largely because Boudin hired many public defenders to replace the legions of prosecutors who quit or were fired during his tenure, and they’re overworked and not familiar with centering victims. The advocates said the attorneys often failed to keep them apprised of progress in their cases and gave them too little information to effectively do their jobs.

For example, it was common practice under Gascón for attorneys to explain to victims the legal basis for a certain case outcome, but now some attorneys refuse to speak to victims, and the advocates don’t have the legal training to explain, they said.

Why would former defense lawyers newly minted as prosecutors refuse to speak to victims? Perhaps they can’t be bothered with people who actually want justice.

The advocate still working in the division — who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired — said that calling a victim to tell them a case is over even though they didn’t get a chance to weigh in can be heartbreaking, especially if the victim doesn’t agree with the outcome.

“It’s a mix of anger, a lot of yelling, a lot of tears,” the advocate said.

It’s not only heartbreaking, it is unconstitutional. Victims of crime have rights under the California Constitution to notice and an opportunity to be heard. Failure to respect these rights is every bit as much a violation of the Constitution as any violation of the defendant’s rights.

One week to go.

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