New DA plans conviction-integrity unit | January 7, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 7, 2011

New DA plans conviction-integrity unit

Jeff Rosen announces plans to reinstate cold-case unit and expand review of convictions

by Jay Thorwaldson

Criminals who never got caught for past crimes in Santa Clara County should be looking over their shoulders, while others wrongly convicted may have new hope under policies announced this week by Jeff Rosen, who became the county's new district attorney Monday.

Rosen was sworn in during a private administrative ceremony Monday in San Jose but will be ceremonially sworn in at a public ceremony Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the San Jose City Hall at 200 Santa Clara St.

Among Rosen's first acts Wednesday was to create an expanded Conviction Integrity Unit that will monitor procedures relating to arrests, prosecutions and convictions of persons accused of crimes to safeguard against wrongful convictions. On Wednesday, he announced that the unit will be headed by David Angel, a deputy district attorney with about 16 years experience in a variety of positions within the DA's office.

He also announced reinstatement of the Cold Case Unit, which will follow-up on unsolved serious crimes, primarily murder and rape cases, working with local police agencies, Rosen said in an interview with the Palo Alto Weekly. He said he is currently evaluating who would best head that unit.

Both units were disbanded by former District Attorney Dolores Carr, who cited budgetary reasons. But she lost a bid for re-election last November to Rosen, who mounted a strong challenge with support from retired District Attorney George Kennedy and others. Kennedy retired in 2007.

Rosen also announced the appointment of Ian Fitch as the new director of the county Crime Lab, replacing retiring Director Benny DelRe. Fitch was most recently the crime-lab director in Colorado Springs and formerly was a supervisor for the Santa Clara County lab.

Rosen said Fitch is "highly respected and is known as an expert in DNA," and that he was chosen from several "exceptionally well-qualified candidates" for the position.

Rosen said the Conviction Integrity Unit is based on a so-called Innocence Project that Kennedy created a decade ago but was named after a similar unit in Dallas, Texas. Rosen said he felt "conviction integrity" was broader and better described the scope of what the unit will do — which includes developing best-practices for police and prosecutors to minimize the chances of wrongful convictions.

Angel, a graduate of Harvard Law School, pioneered the creation of Kennedy's project, which resulted in three exonerations, including someone who had been sentenced to life in prison, and two lesser cases. Angel resides in San Francisco with his wife, Jana Clark, a deputy city attorney there, and their three children.

Rosen said the integrity unit will work with defense attorneys and the Northern California Innocence Project, based at Santa Clara University.

He said Kennedy's creation of such a unit was "a very forward-looking, progressive move," and a model.

"What I'm creating here really builds and expands on what George Kennedy was doing before," Rosen said.

He said Angel will have supervisory authority over the office's law-and-motions team, "where many issues relating to prosecutorial misconduct or police misconduct come up." He said he will also be a liaison with police agencies in terms of helping with training and reviewing of how cases are handled.

Angel will report to Jay Boyarsky, recently announced as Rosen's chief assistant. Boyarsky formerly supervised the North County DA's office in Palo Alto.

Rosen also announced that he will be eliminating the office's public-information staff and shifting much of the responsibility for getting information out via the media to prosecuting attorneys.

"It's more efficient, and we have less kind of telephone tag," and the prosecutors know most about the cases, he said of the move. A weekly summary of significant cases will continue to be issued, he said.

Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Denese
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 6, 2011 at 8:50 am

Thank you for reinstating the Cold Case unit. Hopefully, some of the crimes committed against the poor will be solved. I hope that the welthy of Santa Clara are treated the same as the poor when a crime is committed

Good ridens Carr!

Hello Rosen!!!!!!!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Not-So-Sure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

> better described the scope of what the unit will do which includes
> developing best-practices for police and prosecutors to minimize the
> chances of wrongful convictions.

It will be interesting to see how much money is spent on this effort, and what results in terms of deliverables. This looks like another of those make work projects for friends of the DA.

Like this comment
Posted by Alice Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

This is the start of fairness and equity in the legal system. Well done. Exoneration of the innocent should be as important as protecting the public

Like this comment
Posted by Not-So-Sure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

> Exoneration of the innocent

The implication of a statement like this is that the legal process is corrupt, or at least so significantly flawed that no one can expect a fair deal from "the system". This is a very disturbing point-of-view. If true, the whole core of the District Attorney system needs to be "on trial".

Given the vagueness of this idea, and Rosen's failure to run an honest campaign--it's really difficult that the taxpayers will see anything of value from the expenditure of funds on this effort.

Like this comment
Posted by Joanie S.
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Milpitas Council woman Debbie Giordano stole a mail box that is on video on the internet. She confessed to the SCC Sherriff department. They wrote her up for a misdemeaner! The video shows Giordano stealing a U.S Postal Mailbox-Felony, and delivering her real-estate adds without postage also mutiple counts of crime. The Santa Clara County D.A. office did nothing! The Sherriff's office did not arrest her! The U.S. and local Milpitas women Postmaster filed no charges. Oh, their was mail in the mailbox?...Counts none filed! She voted to not outsource the Milpitas Police department services and so the Police Union supported her winning another term. All this took place in 2011. Real-estate gatherings shows attendance by Dolores Carr(former Scc D.A. remenber she got rid of the corruption unit) and realtor Giordano. Some things never change. Jeff Rosen was already in office. Remember the words to the T.V. show "Welcome Back Kotter" "...well we tease him alot cause we got him on the spot welcome back...! Oh, and don't forget the character "Horshack" (Whoreshack).

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