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March 7, 2018
The Lassen County District Attorney, Stacey L. Montgomery, said in a statement today she would not be seeking re-election in June.
During DA Montgomery’s tenure, many positive changes have taken place. “We’ve completely revamped the Prison Prosecution program and created a Victim Witness division separate from the District Attorney’s office for increased efficiency and grant fiscal compliance. We established a pre-filing diversion program and moved into the 21st century utilizing modern technology for the website, upgraded the case management system, created a Facebook page and distributed an e-newsletter in an effort to effect transparency and keep the public informed. Most importantly, I am proud to have been part of a dynamic team of prosecutors and support staff. Together, we have put away many high-level, dangerous offenders. I am proud of the work we have done for the community in support of public safety.”
There have been many challenges. Changes to the law, specifically Prop 47 and 57, which allow for the early release of criminals and less punishment for those convicted, have made prosecution more difficult. Loss of the Narcotics Task Force, cuts in the departmental budget and a lack of support from top officials in county administration have also fueled the District Attorney’s decision not to run.
“I believe those of us fortunate enough to lead as elected officials must be willing to give others the same opportunity. I loved the job. I love the community I serve," Montgomery said in the statement. “I believe we’ve made excellent progress in the last three years and can be proud of our accomplishments as a department. At this time, I have made the difficult decision to move in a different direction and focus on spending quality time with my boys.”
The District Attorney will remain in the office until January 2019.
By Eric Siddall
From The Association of Deputy District Attorneys website - used with permission.
The trendy storyline in criminal justice is to blame the prosecutor, blame the police, blame the laws and blame society. Never mind the wake of destruction violent criminals leave on the community, especially economically vulnerable neighborhoods. Never mind the approximately 17,000 Americans murdered in 2016. Never mind those people. Let’s now focus on the injustice of putting away rapists, gang members and murderers.
In this brave new world, an actor like Danny Trejo can go on television and promote a new “documentary” about surviving prison. Trejo went on the KTLA Morning News and took the opportunity to castigate prosecutors and others in the system. Trejo, a self-proclaimed expert in the criminal justice arena, stated prosecutors are not interested in justice, but just racking up convictions to advance their careers. In his view, tens of thousands of people in prison have been “convicted illegally” (he didn’t define what that means), the prisons are in place simply to make money, and the criminal justice system is just a “deal-making” system.
Here is the reality. Every day prosecutors review cases submitted by law enforcement and decide not to issue charges, because while there is evidence that a suspect may have committed the crime, the case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If a felony case is charged, before it can even be set for trial, a judge must find probable cause that a crime has occurred and the defendant is guilty of committing the crime. If a defendant elects a trial, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard we have (for a good reason) in the law, to 12 members of the community.
Mr. Trejo complains about the plea bargain process being coercive. It is actually a process designed to benefit the defendant, not the prosecutor. It allows the defendant to limit the charges he can be convicted of, and lessen the time he has to serve. The trade-off for the prosecution is that they do not have to put on a trial and inconvenience victims and witnesses. Most powerfully, however, is that no defendant is forced to plea to any charge-they have the absolute right to insist the prosecutor prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
That there are a lot of people in state prison reflects that there is a lot of crime in this state. These prisons are not filled with thousands of innocent, low-level offenders without a long record. As we have blogged before, those sent to prison are guilty of serious crimes — in fact, more than 70% of current prison inmates are guilty of “crimes against persons.” Or put another way, for every inmate in prison for a crime against a person, there is at least one or more victims in California who suffered at their hands.
It might be trendy to highlight ex-cons and berate the justice system for its flaws, real or perceived. Apparently not worthy of such treatment is the aftermath for the victims and families of those suffered crimes such as murder, rape, robbery or child sexual abuse. However, as prosecutors we are proud to stand with victims of crime. We are proud to stand by the communities often forgotten in this brave new world.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.
Press Release: February 13, 2018
Dan A. Howe, Special Prosecutor for the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office, announced today in the case of the People of the State of California v. Arik Baker the defendant plead guilty to four felony counts with a stipulated sentence of 61 years to life. Included in the plea was a waiver of any right to appeal. Mr. Howe recognizes the bravery and resilience of the survivor. “The reason we achieved such an excellent result (in this case) was because of the survivor’s strong commitment to justice.” Additionally, Mr. Howe would like to thank the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office for an excellent, professional investigation with a special acknowledgement of Sergeant John McGarva and Deputy Laura Johnson.
Forty-nine year old Arik Baker plead guilty to two felony counts of the crime of Sexual Penetration of a Child 10 years old or younger in violation of California Penal Code Section 288.7(b) resulting in two consecutive terms of 15 years to life in state prison. The defendant also plead guilty to Continuous Sexual Abuse, in violation of California Penal Code Section 288.5(a), defined as three or more acts of “substantial sexual conduct” with a child under the age of 14 years resulting in an additional term of 16 years. Baker plead guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault of A Child, in violation of Penal Code 269(a) (1), where the defendant was 7 or more years older than the child, and the child is under the age of 14, where he committed Rape, resulting in an additional term of 15 years to life. Sentencing is scheduled for April 16, 2018 at 9:00AM at the Hall of Justice.
The Lassen County District Attorney’s Office would like to encourage individuals who have experienced any sexual assault to please report the incident to law enforcement. Delayed disclosure of sexual assault is normal. The extraordinary disposition in this case is because a survivor spoke out. You too deserve to be heard, respected and for the crime to be investigated.
From your District Attorney: I am pleased to provide the opportunity for the citizens of Lassen County to learn more about the District Attorney's Office and clarify our role and responsibilities. As your District Attorney, my duty is to protect all citizens of the county by justly and fairly prosecuting those who threaten our safety. The positive reputation my office has developed since I was elected is one that I am proud of, particularly through the effective prosecution of violent criminals, "three strikers", sexual predators, and other violators. I am a strong supporter of my staff, a team of dedicated attorney’s and professionals committed to the mission and vision of our office.
Other than the prosecution of crime in the county, did you know of the different type of work and various programs our office provides the community? The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for: Prison Prosecution, Criminal Investigation, Asset Forfeiture, Public Record Requests, presentations to the public about the DA office and the Adult Criminal Justice System and community outreach designed toward the prevention of domestic violence, child abuse, and other senseless crimes. One of our many goals for the future includes an intervention and diversion program designed to give new opportunities to early, non-serious criminal and drug-addicted offenders. Moreover, I am proud of the efforts of the Victim Witness staff that work closely with crime victims to help guide them from victim to survivor. Please take a look at our Victim Witness website for more information on this valuable program.
I appreciate your interest and look forward to your input as to how our office may better serve you. We appreciate the community’s input, so please feel free to share your kudos and/or concerns via our email at: LassenDA@co.lassen.ca.us. We will respond as soon as possible. Thank you for visiting! --Stacey Montgomery
Click here to participate in a Community Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HH9PVSQ
*Below is a public use form for individuals who would like to keep a record of their valuable property in the event of theft. Please record the serial numbers or other identifying information for reporting to law enforcement. Keep this form in a secure location.
Did you know?
The District Attorney's authority is independent of other local law enforcement agencies.
Doug Wilber, Chief Investigator
Our District Attorney Investigator, Doug Wilber, performs various types of investigations including investigations not handled by other local law enforcement agencies as stipulated by the District Attorney to improve the administration of justice. Some of the investigator's job duties include investigations targeted by the state, investigations to assist the operation of county departments or programs, homicide response and assistance in trial preparation. Investigators from the District Attorney's Office are part of the critical incident response team and can be called out when an incident involving the use of "lethal force" by a peace officer occurs. DA Investigators are also called upon to conduct investigations into suspected misconduct by government officials, public employees or local agencies.
Currently, the department is funded to employ one Senior Investigator (a Junior Investigator position is allocated but not funded). Rest assured, all Lassen County District Attorney Investigator's working in the Bureau of Investigations are sworn California Peace Officers as defined in Section 830.1 of the California Penal Code.