I have practiced criminal defense in San Bernardino for eight years, and have known Mr. Poston for this time. Although I have had my share of arguments and very serious ideological battles with him (and derivatively, Mr. Ramos), I have never known him to take "marching orders" to go easy on a defendant for the benefit of the Ramos campaign.
One of the good qualities of the DA's Office is the fact that Mr. Ramos does not micromanage his staff. He gives his senior deputies the discretion to prosecute cases as they see fit. These deputies have risen through the ranks and have earned Mr. Ramos' trust. They know their cases' strengths and weaknesses, and they deal with their cases accordingly. The evidence is what it is, regardless of how wealthy (or poor) the defendant is, or how motivated the victim is. Of course, as an advocate for the accused, my opinion of the state of the evidence can be different from that of the prosecutor. However, I believe that our differences are a result of our respective philosophies, not because of some shenanigans orchestrated by the brass in the DA's Office.
It is to Mr. Ramos' credit that he runs his office the way he does, and relies on the experience of his deputies. It is also to Mr. Poston's credit that he appears to have evaluated this case based on the strength of the evidence, rather than on the very public opinions of Mr. Epps and his attorney.
As a criminal defense attorney, I have occasionally had very serious cases reduced or dismissed, because the lack of evidence warranted it. It wasn't because my clients were wealthy (they're not), or because I have "juice" within the DA's office - I clearly have none. It was because the prosecutors handling those particular cases did the right thing, just as I suspect Mr. Poston did in this case.
Fear in action
Congratulations to all of you who put all those "Yes on Prop 8" signs on the roadways, all of you who listened to your leaders on Sunday mornings who encouraged you to propagate hatred and discrimination against people who are different than you, and all of the "church people" who came to my door to get my support for Proposition 8. (I told them I didn't agree with them - they looked shocked.)
As Americans we should all be outraged that Proposition 8 took away the 14th Amendment rights for a group of United States citizens. What was the civil rights movement about if it wasn't about equal rights for every American?
Facts: Proposition 8 has nothing to do with teaching children about same-sex marriage. Churches will not lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to marry a same-sex couple. Proposition 8 is discrimination pure and simple against the last minority group to be granted equal rights in our great country.
The passage of Proposition 8 under the guise of "morality" is just simply fear in action. I urge you all to look into your hearts and minds and think how you would react if one of your children or grandchildren told you that he or she were gay. Would you react with fear or with love?
District pays price
As a citizen of Rialto for the past 39 years and a retired teacher, I strongly disagree with the $300,000 compensation package that Rialto Unified School District Superintendent Edna Davis-Herring received.
I am especially upset that she was rewarded for "caring." She was paid well for that while she was superintendent. There are plenty of teachers in Rialto who "care" and work hard to teach the students in the district. If they are assigned a principal that they felt was hostile toward them they probably would not resign. If they did resign, they would not receive 18 months of salary plus fringe benefits. Edna Davis- Herring will receive a state retirement, so why does she need the district to give her $300,000?
The public needs to understand that teaching takes place in the classroom and not in some downtown administrator's office. If Edna Davis-Herring really "cared" she would have stuck it out and fought for the kids in Rialto.
At a time when the state is looking at massive cuts to education, the district now has to pay someone who will provide no services and also pay a new overly compensated superintendent.
Raising the bar?
In 2004 with a 2.4 percent majority of 3.6 million votes, (286 electoral votes) MSNBC asked, rhetorically, "Does the president (George Bush) have a mandate?" The immediate answer was: "Of course he does. He won. The winner, no matter how close the election, is the one who governs." Or, as Vice President Cheney, put it: " the nation responded by giving him a mandate."
In 2008, we have Barack Obama receiving a 6.3 percent majority with 7.9 million more votes than his opponent (364 electoral votes and still counting), and the question is again raised as to whether he has a mandate.
The Denver Post, in a column by Ross Kaminsky, "Election 2008: No mandate to be found," declares this " was not was a referendum or a mandate for Barack Obama's far-left policy agenda."
Robert Novak (the conservative reporter who "outed" Valerie Plame as a secret CIA operative) went so far as to proclaim:
"But Obama's win was nothing like that. He may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities."
Why has the bar for a "mandate" been raised? Is it because we now have a Democrat elected to the office of president?
I guess it all depends on which side you are on.
Voters deserve more
District Attorney Michael Ramos has verbally, after the questionable sentencing of the Barajas siblings has been made public, assured the voters of San Bernardino that the District Attorney's Office neither has nor ever will have its integrity compromised.
While Ramos gives the voter his word, the facts of the Barajas case suggest otherwise.
Two defendants were hired for the purpose of killing a target of the Barajas siblings. They are now serving a minimum of 10 years in prison. What possible circumstances can exist that the initiating conspirators of such a plot should not serve at least the same term?
As reported by The Sun, the specifics as to why and how the plea bargains were reached have never been disclosed. The only facts that have been reported are about Ramos and dwarf his credibility as a man, as an officer of the court, and as an elected official in whom many voters have invested their trust.
Ramos owes the voter much more than a statement fraught with denial and coincidences. Why, Mr. Ramos, do the records of the Secretary of State reflecting your receipt of funds totaling $7,000 from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians exactly one week after the plea bargain was struck differ in date from the campaign contribution you submitted to the County of San Bernardino?
There is, to say the least, an appearance of a conflict of interest. As an attorney, Mr. Ramos must be aware that it matters not whether an actual conflict exists. Even the appearance of a conflict when it involves officers of the court is to be avoided.
Perhaps a start in regaining the trust of the voter is to return the contributions to the tribe from a source which specifically traces the monies to your own individual resources.
DONALD M. MAGDZIASZ