DA Candidate Carlton: Benito Lost the Public’s Trust

Dear readers: Here’s the second installment in A News Cafe’s candidate statements series for the June 8, 2010 primary election. Read opponent Jerry Benito’s contribution here. -Editor


Candidate statement from Steve Carlton:

The most powerful person in our criminal justice system is the District Attorney. Due to the great power and responsibility entrusted to the District Attorney, it is imperative for the District Attorney to possess integrity and judgment. If the District Attorney does not possess these qualities, serious problems will exist in the criminal justice system and public trust will be lost.

Shasta County has serious problems in its criminal justice system.  Felony conviction rates have consistently fallen below the state average every year since 2003.  This means that guilty people are going unpunished and innocent people have been unnecessarily prosecuted.  We have seen inconsistent application of the law in making charging decisions.  This inconsistency and poor judgment in deciding which cases get prosecuted has resulted in a loss of public trust.  The District Attorney’s office has also seen an exodus of many of its most experienced prosecutors.  Like too many government offices, the current District Attorney’s office is top heavy, as the D.A. and his top assistant do not even go to court or prosecute cases themselves.

I have the integrity, judgment and experience to fix these problems and restore public trust and confidence in our District Attorney’s office. As your District Attorney from 1981 to 1990, I have a proven record of assembling and maintaining a professional, effective and ethical D.A.’s office. I recruited and retained experienced attorneys and made charging decisions based only on the facts and the law. I also have the personal experience of trying over 300 cases while working on both sides of the justice system.

Recruitment of experienced attorneys and adequate training and supervision of newer prosecutors must be a priority.  I will place the most experienced attorneys in critical “filter” positions. These filter positions determine which cases are filed and which cases are brought to trial.  By placing emphasis in these areas, we will make the best use of our limited resources and focus on the cases that need to be tried.

I will lead by example, working every day as a prosecutor, and I will require all of my staff to do the same.  Under my leadership, the emphasis will be on public safety, the wise use of our limited public resources, and the equal application of the law to all.  I have always taken most seriously the oath to support and defend our constitution, including the right to bear arms and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  I will never sacrifice your civil liberties for any reason.

These are just some of the reasons why I have been endorsed by every other living former District Attorney of Shasta County and more than 30 former Shasta County prosecutors.  I am proud to have the endorsement of retired Sheriff Jim Pope, as well as retired judges and most of the legal community.  It is time for a change in our District Attorney’s office and I am asking for your support.


Bio: Steve Carlton, Former District Attorney of Shasta County, 1981 – 1990

As a Shasta County native, I care deeply about the community in which I was raised and in which I raised my family. I am committed to assuring that this community remains a safe place for all of our citizens.

My parents, Dan and Carol Carlton, settled in Redding in 1935.  My father, a native of Siskiyou County, began practicing law in our community, and, together with my mother, they began a family. I attended our local public schools and graduated from Shasta Union High School in 1961. I then attended Santa Clara University, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1965. After completing my undergraduate work, I continued my studies at Santa Clara University School of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1968. In January of 1969 I was admitted to the California State Bar and began my career as an attorney.

After being admitted to practice law in the State of California, I moved to Fresno to begin my law career with the District Attorney’s Office of Fresno County. It was also in Fresno that I began my family. A few years after joining the Fresno D.A.’s office, I met Terri, my wife of nearly 40 years. After five years of marriage, Terri and I decided to enrich our lives by having children. First we welcomed a daughter, Danielle, and then a son, Tim. Unfortunately, our plans of a third child were shelved after our second-born proved to be quite a handful!

After serving five years as a Deputy District Attorney, I left the Fresno office and began work in private practice.  In January of 1979 I returned to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office as the Assistant District Attorney. In my capacity as Assistant District Attorney I was responsible for managing the daily operations of an office of 35 attorneys.

In June of 1981 I was given the opportunity to return home with my young family and serve as the District Attorney of Shasta County.  As District Attorney of Shasta County I built an outstanding office based on judgment and integrity. After nearly ten years as the District Attorney, and after careful thought and reflection, I chose not to seek re-election in 1990. In January of 1991 I entered the private practice of law.

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59 Responses

  1. Avatar Sara says:

    Steve, we are all behind you and Terri.

  2. Avatar California Dreaming says:

    Mr. Carlton impresses me with his experience. But what impresses me more is his forthright, transparent attitude. He embraces his private, criminal-defense-oriented law practice as an honorable way to pursue justice. In contrast, the current D.A. blandly says he previously left the D.A.'s Office to "explore private practice." The current D.A. doesn't want anyone to know that for several years, he also defended criminals. Then, our present D.A. lambasts Carlton for simply serving in that capacity–one our Country's Founding Fathers envisioned as a powerful ally in the preservation of justice for all, not just the fortunate few who have personal relationships with Jerry Benito. Benito just fails to understand bedrock American principles. Steve Carlton is the antidote to Benito's failed administration. If Shasta County citizens want to clean house, the D.A.'s Office seems the best place to start. I'm voting for Carlton.

    • Avatar Tordesilla says:

      Odd as I have heard Mr. benito discuss his criminal practice on many an occassion. Of course he did not do for it 20 plus years but who am I to judge?

  3. Avatar Educate Me says:

    Question No. 1: Can someone please explain how the assumed lower conviction rate equates to "a). guilty people are going unpunished and innocent people have been unnecessarily prosecuted; and b). an "inconsistent application of the law in making charging decisions"?

    Question No. 2: Why shouldn't we conclude that the "exodus of many of its most experienced prosecutors" wasn't just the termination of ineffective staff?

    Question No. 3: Why does a DA have to personally prosecute cases? We didn't expect Leonard Moty to walk the beat, Larry Lees to collect garbage, or Kurt Starman to sling tar?

    • Avatar gamerjohn says:

      Our local juries are very conservatives and prone to believe the cops and convict the accused with little evidence. In deciding whether to bring a case to court, better judgment needs to be made. Why did Benito waste months and money on the marijuana grower cases which he lost? Why did Benito bring the child molestation case against the federal probation agent? Why did Benito file charges against the man defending his family against intruders?

      In deciding to use resources against certain people for political reasons, that means that others will not be charged. The innocent are prosecuted and the guilty go free.

      The exodus of experienced prosecutors was not linked to being ineffective. Some got fired because Benito changed the policy on having DA probation for drunk driving to appease MADD but the cases where it was already offered as part of the plea needed to be concluded, but Benito didn't want to be honest.

      Benito has laid off most of the lawyers and staff that were there when he started and replaced them with his picks.

      The prosecutors who lost big cases remain in the office since they would represent a failure on Benito's part and that is not an option.

      I would expect bosses to know what their business does. Benito hates taking off his shoes to pass thru the metal detectors so he doesn't go to court. Moty did ride along as many other chiefs of police do. If the county and city administrators knew the duties of their employees, then they would be better and more effective.

      I hope that I have helped educate you.

      • Avatar I Hate Dirty Politic says:

        So Carlton will be a better DA because he won't try the hard cases? Well there goes the child molestation cases and domestic violence cases. Those are always tough.

        Benito is also suppose to be the entire justice system. He is suppose to the be prosecutor, the defense attorney and the judge. I always thought it was the DA's job to be the prosecutor. Silly me – I believe in separation of powers.

        Most of Benito's employees are civil servants and have the protection's of civil servants. It is really hard to fire or lay off a civil servant. There is an entire process to rehabilitate them. Interesting that those who left can say whatever they want, and Benito can't say a thing because he is prohibited by law from discussing (past and present) employee's actions.

        Much of what Carlton says is really a distortions of truths. He and the defense bar believe Benito is too tough. I really don't blame them for thinking that way. Benito did come in and make it a prosecution office. The bar had been set very low by the previous D.A.

        The recent decision by Judge Bigelow, who is Carlton's niece, really shows what the defense bar believes prosecution is about. She just sentenced a man to probation after he was found guilty of 4 counts of child molestation (5/18 RS), and probation had recommended a 12 year prison sentence. That is a travesty.

        No wonder Law Enforcement and Victims' Rights people (ie Maggie John) are backing Benito. He is truly the best man for the job.

    • Avatar California Dreaming says:

      Educate Me, I will try to answer your questions.

      (1) Low conviction rates are strong evidence of a systemic problem within any D.A.'s Office, one which usually results from a lack of understanding of core prosecution principles like "justice" and "fairness" to all–including both victims AND alleged wrongdoers. For example, when a jury takes merely two hours to find an alleged child molester "not guilty" on multiple counts (this happened recently in Shasta County), that shows the deputy prosecutor unnecessarily prosecuted an innocent person, smeared that person's life with unprovable allegations, wasted the jury's time and resources, tied up the court system, etc. Such prosecutions result from a non-focus on simply "doing what's right." Rather, the focus veers into the wrong territory, say, "If I try a certain number of cases this year, I'll get bonus points from my supervisor" or "I'm going to try this case so I'll appear like a so-called 'hard core' prosecutor because that's what the administration wants above all else." These motivations undermine the pursuit of justice from within a D.A.'s Office, making the jury the last resort for many defendants, who then walk free because the rank and file juror sees beyond the skewed tunnelvision of a misguided prosecutor. These instances reduce the confidence of jurors in local prosecution cases, which ultmately results in fewer convictions, hence "guilty people are going unpunished."

      (2) The exodus of experienced prosecutors from the D.A.'s Office shows an even greater problem. In court, integrity and experience are EVERYTHING; the more experience you have, the more effective you'll be–ask Dugan Barr or Joe Gazzigli or Eric Berg–all veterans of the courtroom. If you want to be ineffective, then do what Benito's done: hire a bunch of newbies after systematically alienating your most experienced professionals with inane, inconsistent policies and misplaced arrogance. If the D.A. declares himself too important to remove his shoes before going into the courthouse, few experienced prosecutors will stick around to be led by such a character.

      (3) It's not just that Mr. Benito doesn't enter the courthouse, he also has not tried a case in over 13 years! He is out of touch with what it takes to win a criminal jury trial. This means he can't effectively mentor all the new personnel he hires, and can't manage to guide truly righteous, winning cases into the courtroom. He has compounded the problem by driving talented, experienced prosecutors away, thereby preventing those prosecutors from mentoring new staff. The only way to even try and mitigate such damage is to get in the courtroom (which Benito refuses to do), dust yourself off, get current, and start seeing for yourself what it is that your team members actually do there. Benito is absent in this process, cannot effectively train his staff, and thus has lost the respect of sharp, experienced prosecutors whose appropriate response is to leave–in droves. I guarantee you that if RPD had the issues now plaguing the D.A.'s Office, Chief Hansen would be on the streets, "walking the beat" to train, oversee and motivate his officers in a positive, proactive way–it's called integrity and judgment. Unfortunately, these are attributes that need restoration within the D.A.'s Office leadership.

      A sea change is needed. I'm voting for Steve Carlton.

      • Avatar Educate Me says:

        @ Cal Dreaming,

        Excellent response. Thanks for your earnest effort to educate me. It's been difficult to find an Carlton supporter who isn't emotionally motivated or using this election to promote obvious self-interests.

        My challenge at this point is that your answers and opinions seem to directly conflict with those provided me by employees at the DA's office and local policemen who are obviously active on the street level. My sampling of opinions of those with direct experience could be skewed, but it seems to me that in order to assume your argument is reasonably accurate I also have to conclude that the preponderance of our police force and DA's office either is detached from reality or unfit for service.

        Can you lend any perspective to help me resolve these conflicting realities?

        • Avatar California Dreaming says:

          Educate Me,

          Thank you for your kind words. I believe that most peace officers in our community care deeply about its safety and seek to promote fairness at all those levels of government which they can help influence. The problem for such officers in this race is a no-win situation: if they openly, individually support Carlton, then they expose themselves to career hazards if Carlton loses. It is widely known in the legal community and among many of our citizens that Benito can be petty and vindictive; if you make it on his black list, life can become very unpleasant. Benito's charging decisions alone demonstrate his penchant for playing favorites, a trait that undermines the administration of justice. Because Carlton is widely considered fair and reasonable, however, these same officers know they are safe in supporting Benito because should Carlton win, he will understand their shared dilemma and not hold a grudge. I believe it is a safe bet that the vast majority of these officers who are outwardly careful to support Benito will vote for Carlton. This is because they understand a pronounced change is needed.

          Regarding the deputy D.A.s currently serving, the above problem is even more dramatic. Their situation is untenable because unless they openly support Benito, they risk career suicide should he win. And, even when he loses the election, they will have to serve under Benito for roughly six months before Carlton assumes office in January 2011. Truly, these deputies need not worry about Carlton because he will understand their shared difficulty and hence their collective motivation. He will not hold their support of Benito against them.

          You pose the dilemma of these individuals being "either detached from reality or unfit for service." Ironically, the third and correct alternative is that they firmly grasp political reality and choose the safe route. Please don't be discouraged by this circumstance.

        • Avatar Educate Me says:

          @ Cal Dreaming,

          The officers and DA employees to which I refer do not suffer from your third option. These are trusted friends. Again, I'm sure my sampling is biased but I have no reason to believe these friends and neighbors are lying to cover their ass. Your perspective therefore doesn't negate their qualified support for Jerry Benito.

          As for your support for Jerry's opponent I'd ask what you think about the possibility he only intends to serve a few months before retiring and letting CBOS choose a successor? Do you have direct knowledge this will not be the case because there's a lot of well informed people whispering about this….

  4. Avatar Doug says:

    Every D.A. and every Deputy D.A. takes an oath to support and defend the constitutions of the U.S. and California. Both constitutions guarantee an accused person the right to an attorney and a trial by a jury of his peers. The D.A. can not claim to be supportive of the constitution when he expresses such contempt at every opportunity for criminal defense attorneys and judges and anyone else who doesn't share his opinion. While the line staff remains cordial and even friendly with the defense bar, anyone who has attended the Thursday afternoon staff meeting at the D.A.'s office knows there is a total lack of respect for any one who is not on their side on any particular case or issue. This is the attitude supported by the current D.A. How else would you explain the broad support of Steve Carlton by the legal community as a whole, not just defense attorneys, not just lawyers, but retired judges, judges' families, and experienced law enforcement officials. Something is wrong with the criminal justice system in Shasta County, and it is the leadership in the D.A.'s office.
    Long ago attorneys only went to work for the D.A. for a couple of years at the beginning of their careers to get trial experience and thereby make themselves more marketable in the private sector. That perspective changed sometime ago and the Ca. District Attorney's Assoc. started promoting the idea of the career prosecutor and things started changing to encourage people to stay in the profession for the long term. This proved beneficial as the quality of prosecutions improved and the degree of expertise improved along with the demands of the position. Steve Carlton recognized that. Dennis Sheehy recognized that. MacGregor Scott recognized that. Mr. Benito has unilaterally eliminated the concept of the career prosecutor from the Shasta County office, except for himself. Since January 2010 he has hired 6 or 7 attorneys into the office, and I would bet none of them had been an attorney for over 1 year. He just wanted sycophants. Some of those attorneys are already prosecuting felonies. He must have found one or two. How does this fiscally responsible D.A. intend to train these new deputies? He stripped the office of almost all training when the budget problems started. It has gotten difficult for any of the attorneys to keep up with their mandatory continuing education requirements.

    • Avatar Tordesilla says:

      How in the world did Mr. Benito eliminate he career prosecutor? Are there new people, yes, but a good chunk of that office consists of people who have double-digit years of experience.

      And what DA with less than one year's experience has been trying felony cases? Care to list them?

      But Carlton actually loves young prosecutors take a look at his support list.

      Kristen Anderson, daughter of Judge Anderson, who while a DA picked up drug charges and was prosecuted by the attorney general. Her attorney? Steve Carlton. Yet he does not divulge that, does he?

      Brian Weisel: A Deputy DA for less than a year and never won a trial. Does Mr. Carlton's campaign reveal that? No. Because its ok to be inexperienced of you can do something for Carlton.

      Adam Post: Left the office after one year. Perhaps one can ask him if he left of his own accord or if he could not pass the probationary period.

      Do we need to go over a support list that includes 3 public defenders who were prosecuted for being drunk and disorderly and obstructing a peace officer (Mr. Ahart, Mr. Borges, and Ms. Babbitts). All of whom accepted responsibility for their actions we should add. Think they may have a slight grudge? Is that anywhere on his support list? No.

      Come to think of it, Carlton is not having these former prosecutors (and lets just count people from Benito era, not folks who left the office 25 years ago) who were supposedly treated unfairly out pleading their case because they know to do would then allow certain aspects of their personnel record to come into play and they may not want that.

      Who you vote for is your business. Some will do so for personal reasons because they just do not like Benito and there is nothing we can say about that. It can be as good a reason as any. But this hogwash about "integrity" and justice when Carlton has given no concrete proposal at all as to what he would do differently except for "change" when at the same time he is not running his campaign with said integrity is a poor reason to pick him.

      • Avatar FYI says:

        There is information you have detailed above that is inaccurate. Attacking the Person does nothing for an argument, thus why it is considered a fallacy.

  5. Avatar KDM says:

    California Dreaming is obviously a defense attorney and is spouting the typical one-sided argument in favor of lighter punishment for criminals. Child molestors do not get all the way to trial without some evidence of wrong doing. Slick defense attorneys who create smoke and mirrors and get perpetrators of child molestation off the hook should not sleep at night.

    Have you considered the impact to the numerous children involved in the case you mentioned? Probably not.

    As to your other invalid point, County employees are let go for cause. Was it truly mass exodus of qualified individuals or those who could not do their assigned duties, or lied or even became insubordinate and were not team-players let go? These are the reasons people are let go from County positions. Of course, they will never tell you that part.

    Vote for Jerry Benito! He has done a tremendous job. The conviction rates are up since he took over. The news did a great job investigating the truth. The employees of the DA's office are team players who enjoy working for their boss. Jerry is leading the way with numerous community safety programs. He is involved in our community and cares about our safety.

  6. Avatar Just Curious says:

    California Dreaming,

    I'm with you!

  7. Avatar Missy McArthur says:

    1. Steve Carlton WILL take off his shoes and enter the courthouse to do the job he was elected to do.

    2. Steve Carlton WON'T have his staff draw despicable cartoons (prosecutor riding a woman defendent) at taxpayer's expense.

    3. Steve Carlton WON'T have illegal tickets written and then illegally tear them up.

    4. Steve Carlton WILL have the respect of the judicial system.

    5. Steve Carlton will prosecute cases fairly with JUSTICE FOR ALL!

    Missy McArthur

    • Avatar Tordesilla says:

      So how expensive was this cartoon? I am just wondering.

      • Avatar Mike says:

        It was devised on county time: thus, the disclaimer.

        It was circulated on county computers.

        It was yukked over during prosecutors' meeting times: aka tax money.

        It was the subject of a computer search to see who let the cat out of the bag: tax money.

        And the end result, there was blame instead of self-recognition.

  8. Avatar Amanda says:

    I don't understand KDM's response to California Dreaming. A criminal lawsuit, especially one alleging abhorrent conduct like child molestation, changes the accused person's life forever! If the case is so weak that jurors don't even go home and sleep on their verdict, why on earth would the prosecutor waste the jury's time presenting such a lousy case? Is it right to use the courtroom to smear a citizen's reputation in that manner? By the time the jury tosses the D.A.'s case, the damage to the defendant is virtually irreversible. Is that what we pay prosecutors to do? That defendant could be you or me.

    Benito says he is careful with resources, but he finds time to order his staff members to create cartoons making fun of criminal defendants. His message to deputy prosecutors is to ridicule others on the public dime. Personally, I was appalled when I saw this cartoon, and appalled that it showed such a disrespect for women as well as for a mentally ill defendant. Clearly something is very wrong here.

    Call me naive, but I think Thomas Jefferson would be turning over in his grave if he knew how Benito seems to selectively prosecute cases, like the Shelby Allen case (prosecuted because of Benito's friendship with a local labor negotiator), or selectively ignore REAL cases (like the obvious crime committed against Adam Martinez).

    KDM, have you considered the impact upon the Martinez family? Probably not.

    • Avatar Tordesilla says:

      So this cartoon thing was done during his first term, he was then elected, so now, 5 or six years later its a campaign issue?

      Oh yes, this is personal.

      Has anyone proven a prior friendship between Mr. Benito and Steve Allen? How it impacted this ?

      And if the Adam Martinez decision is such a bad one, then maybe we should ask one of Mr. Carlton's supporters about it. Joe Gazzigli represents the suspect and he has been awfully quiet about Carlton saying he will "look into the case again". Surely Mr. Gazzigli told him all the facts already. Or is it that Gazzigli knows he has nothing to fear about this case ever being charged by Mr. Carlton? Of course, by then it will be too late.

      So this is the question, if Mr. Carlton uses the grief of family and friends of Adam Martinez for political gain, then fails to either charge or successfully convict that suspect, what will that say about his integrity and 'justice'? Also what will it say about us if we fell for it?

      • Avatar Amanda says:

        You seem jaded, and that's sad. I don't think Mr. Carlton is "using" the Adam Martinez case in the way you say he is. Actually, In the first candidate forum it was Benito who disgustingly "re-enacted" the attack on Martinez right in front of the Martinez family, even after he was alerted to their presence in the room. Didn't Benito then use this case for political gain without regard for this family's suffering? Is that what Shasta County needs in its highest law enforcement officer? At any rate, such theater doesn't inspire my confidence in Benito's judgment. In fact, his demonstration of poor judgment during this forum makes clear that his earlier lack of judgment in creating an awful, repugnant cartoon (using public funds) was vintage Benito. Obviously, the cartoon wasn't raised earlier because there were no campaign issues to address at that time. But my guess is that Benito's lapses in judgment continued unabated during the five-year period you mention. Judging by the Shelby Allen case, Benito's judgment failures continue to this day.

    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      In Thomas Jefferson's world only wealthy white men were provided due process and equal protection….. Just say'n….

  9. Avatar Pat j. says:

    Some of us have LONG memories. I remember at least 2 plea bargains that DA Carlton approved that were rediculous. When you have witnesses to a murder and let the murderer plea voluntary manslaughter??? Sentence 6 yrs??? and serve 3 yrs???

    Even so, being a District Attorney is a TOUGH job, and my feeling is that both Carlton and Benito have had tough calls to make, and have done the job reasonably well. However, my vote is going to the younger man.

    • Avatar Just Curious says:

      Pat j.,

      You say "rediculous". Were you in the courtroom while that case was being tried? If not and without details and inside knowledge of that particular case, YOU appear RIDICULOUS.

  10. Avatar RadioFreeJefferson says:

    I hadn't really considered that ethnicity might have played a part in the Martinez case until I pondered this: If the attacker had been Hispanic, and the victim white, how likely would it be that the attacker would be a free man today?

    • Avatar Just Curious says:

      Very UNLIKELY. Good Point !

      • Avatar Tordesilla says:

        You do know Benito is hispanic, right?

        • Avatar Just Curious says:

          Yes. However, after watching the film many times, I believe the attacker should be in Deep $#%T… regardless what the DA's name is.

        • Avatar RadioFreeJefferson says:

          "Benito," I believe, is an Italian surname, not Hispanic. I regret posting this now, because it would be easy to think I implied that Jerry Benito is a bigot. While I'm critical of how he's conducted himself as the DA, I don't think he's a bigot. But, it is possible that he made the decision he did on the Adam Martinez case because he felt that a Shasta County jury wouldn't convict a white man accused of attacking a Hispanic man.

        • Avatar Adolfo says:

          And Mussolini is Ethopian.

    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      Interesting point…. but I think it says more about jury bias in our quiet little town than it does about a DA who has to work within such cultural confines. Didn't Benito confidently state that he couldn't get a jury conviction on this case in Redding?

      I get the impression that if Benito had taken this case to court then Carlton supporters would now be adding that to his list of failures.

      • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

        I do not agree with the premise that a Shasta County jury could not
        watch the video evidence, hear what I understand or multiple statements
        that are not consistent from the two parties still alive, who were directly
        involved, and then come to a just decision.

        The problem, as I see it, is we will never know for sure perhaps because
        Jerry Benito decided he would play God in the matter. Judge and Jury.

        For Adam, if you watch the sickening video, for his family and friends
        and now for his supporters, numbering over 500 this is a open and
        shut matter, not a case yet. But they are fighting and praying for justice.

        Someone put it pretty good saying roughly the following, sorry I'm not searching
        for the exact quote right now but it can be found on Adam Martinez's Face
        Book Justice for Adam page,

        " A monkey wearing a suit taught how to pus replay on a recorder could have
        gotten a conviction in this case."

        The real sad thing here is…THERE WAS NO CASE.

        Benito needs to go for this reason alone and that is enough.


        • Avatar Educate Me says:

          I would suggest that your feelings, like many of those who disagree with the Martinez case, conflict with the realities of the legal system that protects us.

          Jerry Benito didn't make a hasty decision on the Martinez case. The Grand Jury throughly examined the Martinez case frame by digitally enhanced frame and they independently arrived at the opinion that there was not a case against the defendant. Before they studied all the facts they studied the law more throughly than you or I… and they are our peers. They had all the facts.

          What people forget is that the DA has a legal obligation not to prosecute when there is obviously reasonable doubt. When you prosecute you devastate the defendants life. You may not agree with the LAW but I know I'd rather have a DA that follows it.

          If Carlton says he'd have prosecuted the Martinez case then either he hasn't done his homework or he's declaring a willingness to prosecute frivolous cases and willfully suppress the law to appease an emotional an uninformed public .

  11. Avatar Nathan says:

    CARLTON all the way.

  12. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    People…Please do the right thing and vote this little man who won't take off his shoes to enter the court room, out of office. Jerry, go back to private practice. Sheriff Jim Pope, you got it right !

    Steve Carlton is the man for the job again.

  13. Avatar Oldcop says:

    In my 29 year plus career there was only one DA scarier than Steve Carlton – his name was Will Hawes….

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      That's real dang nice now I hope your proud of yourself
      smearing a dead man's reputation.

      Have you no heart at all ?

      Run down a dead man to promote your message.
      Shame on you old cop.

      Mom still says, "If you have nothing good to say about someone
      it's best not to say anything."

      Guess you didn't have the up-bringing I was blessed with?

      Mr. Hawes was a good man and if I was his brother I'd be
      hunting you down to kick your old cop ass.

  14. Avatar Carolyn Jones says:

    With great confidence, I am voting for Carlton.

  15. Avatar igorancheroes says:

    Steve Carlton will be very easy for the lawyers in town to control. They want cases tried, so that they can make money. Vote for Jerry Benito. Nope, he's not perfect, but he's not in the pocket of anyone. Hopefully, he has learned from this election.

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      Good Spinning there you should make a sweater. You and Jerry
      both just don't get it do you. He's already history. Binito Finito!

  16. Avatar Just Curious says:


    Your argument against Carlton sounds revealing. You say, "Hopefully, he has learned from this election". OK, go on… let's hear it !

  17. Avatar Missy McArthur says:

    The cartoon was a rodeo cartoon from last rodeo season here in Redding (the prosecutor was riding a horse-woman defendant). It was NOT from years ago as an earlier person wrote, and even if it were, wrong is wrong. The staff cartoonist put a disclaimer on it: "drawn at Mr. Benito's request" obviously trying to show doing the wrong thing wasn't the cartoonist's idea! Ironically, Mr. Benito's note talks about using "discretion" for appropriate attire for Rodeo Week. What a hoot! Maybe discretion should be exercised a bit higher up the chain of command!…

    Also, I've lived here all my life so have experienced both men as DA: my vote's for Carlton, ALL THE WAY! Furthermore, why doesn't anybody note that when Benito wasn't a prosecutor, he was a criminal defense lawyer also? It isn't like a prosecutor is suddenly going to go into corporate law or divorce law, etc. after leaving the DA's office. They BOTH have been criminal defense lawyers when they weren't in the DA's office.

    Missy McArthur

  18. Avatar Nathan says:

    None of the Benito supporters' arguments hold ANY weight.

    They're just grasping at straws in a flailing, failing attempt to either disparage Carlton or to provide Benito (A.K.A. their EMPLOYER) with some kind of support. Either way, it's all a bunch of nonsense.

    Just give it up…for your own sake. Hold onto that last little shred of dignity.

  19. Avatar RadioFreeJefferson says:

    During Jerry Benito's tenure, many Deputy D.A.'s have been asked, during preliminary hearings or trials, "Why are you here?" Asked by judges. Deputy D.A.'s typically have answered with something like, "I'm following orders, Your Honor."

    The reason Jerry Benito's conviction rate is low is because he takes cases to trial that have no merit. He's out to rack up convictions to create the appearance that he's tough on crime. He has shirked his duty as the chief prosecutor: to seek justice. Seeking justice does not mean trying to rack up as many wins as possible on the backs of little people who are often innocent.

    I wonder: How much worse the prevailing attitude in the DA's office woul d have to get before we have more to fear from the DA than the common criminal on the street?

    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      Ha… great "argumentum ad baculum"

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      While your point is well taken, believe me. The only one I personally fear
      is Jesus Christ my lord and savior. But I will continue to respect the hell
      out of Benito until he's either voted out of office or I leave the home of my

  20. Avatar California Dreaming says:

    Educate Me,

    I simply invite you to go to Mr. Carlton's web site and review it carefully. Then compare Benito's web site. Ask yourself, why does Benito even find himself in his current predicament? How is it that Carlton can run a campaign based on the premise of restoring integrity to the D.A.'s Office? Why does Benito emphasize "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" but refuse to enter the courthouse for important meetings regarding sexual predators? Simply put, Benito has taken a finely tuned office with strong leadership and turned it on its head. He's lost over 300 years of combined experience with nearly 100% turnover. This turnover doesn't stem from Benito's claimed desire for hard-working deputies, but rather his inability to listen to, much less consider or heed, professional views that offer balance to his own. He courts sycophants. Among other results is an office in turmoil, one that has lost community trust, is struggling to be effective in court, and is ready for an overhaul.

    I would be careful to avoid rank speculation (or, as you put it, "whispering") about Mr. Carlton somehow taking the D.A.'s Office helm and then casting aside his campaign effort simply to leave the office's fate to the Board of Supervisors. I view Carlton as much more community-minded than that. He's real, he's committed, he has loads of integrity and experience. He considers all sides and responds carefully. He doesn't care about power or perceived prestige. The D.A.'s Office no longer needs a slick politician who carries around carefully rehearsed talking points. It needs leadership. I'm voting for Steve Carlton.

    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments CD. I'll read over the web sites again but I'd respectfully suggest that you might live in a different Redding than I do. I see a fading good old boy establishment which, like many small towns, has relied more upon back room deals and personal favors than the core ideals you're citing. Maybe I'm disconnected from the true meaning of "quaint little town" but I see a legal community making a consorted effort to regain influence (you might call it balance) and a group of judges who are understandably "nervous" (I wouldn't use the word progressive). Everyone wants a just and honest DA, but one side also wants a greater share of the power than they have today. This is why Benito finds himself fighting for his job. He's pissed off some local attorneys by changing the standards and shifting the power. I'm assuming this is something Carlton would never have chosen to do…. which says something doesn't it?

      I think a vote for Carlton is just going to put the choice in front of the CBOS six months later. At that point the attorneys will promote their original choice and brilliantly accomplish their master plan (Cue the conspiracy music). On the bright side…. I probably trust our politicians more than a group of small town attorneys…. wow…. never thought I'd be saying that.

      • Avatar California Dreaming says:

        Educate Me,

        You've certainly missed some things: Jerry Benito built his entire career on "good-ole-boy" relationships. He was inflamed when out-of-towner McGregor Scott beat him out the first time for the D.A.'s appointment. Then, when Mr. Scott realized Benito couldn't handle power and use good judgment, Scott increasingly limited Benito's scope of authority within the D.A.'s Office. That resulted in Benito becoming offended and leaving the office in a huff to pursue a criminal defense practice. Mr. Scott's office became so well-respected that Scott was promptly elevated to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, a federal position within the Bush administration. This event allowed the Board of Supervisors to appoint Benito, who used his good-ole-boy politicking to be appointed D.A. You should not ignore the raft of poor management decisions that have resulted from Benito's tenure as D.A.

        Your speculative assertions about the future following Carlton's election are simply misguided, lacking any basis other than gossip. The only "plan" is to restore justice, fairness, integrity and responsible leadership to the D.A.'s Office. There is no conspiracy–simply an organized effort to replace a failed department head. McGregor Scott is not a "small town attorney" and he strongly supports Carlton. No one understands Benito's failings than Mr. Scott. I urge you to follow his lead in supporting Carlton.

        • Avatar California Dreaming says:

          Correction: No one understands Benito's failings BETTER than Mr. Scott.

        • Avatar Educate Me says:

          Well said CD… this has been a thoughtful exchange and exactly what I was looking for. Bravo.

          I'll research Carlton's endorsements to determine if there is substance behind their opinions. I won't, however, give credence to those who can't back up their opinions. Maybe I'll return here to post my results.

          I'll assume that since you bolstered Scott's credibility by citing his appointment by President Bush that you also voted for Bush…. otherwise you're trying to have your cake and eat it too….

        • Avatar Educate Me says:

          CD… I did my homework as you suggested and I have to affirm that I am voting for the candidate that the self-interested defense attorneys love to hate. I put more stock in the opinions and experiences of the neighbors and friends who serve our community on the streets than in the ivory tower insinuations of a group that trying to fatten their pockets by tipped the balance of power. I trust police and firemen more than trial lawyers…. and apparently so does most of the rest of society since a recent Gallop pole once again shows that attorneys only get an 18% approval rating only slightly higher than used car salesmen (no offense to the car salesmen).

          I've found that behind most objections to Benito's track record lurks a "consorted effort" to make the DA's office little more than a puppet for special interests.

  21. Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

    Judge Alex commented on your wall post…


    Add to Contacts
    To: Earl Allen Boek
    Judge Alex commented on your wall post:

    Thanks for the video. Obviously, I don't have the benefit of knowing what the police investigation showed or what statements the DA obtained. From the video alone, the only way I see the defendant not being charged is if the girlfriend decided to testify on his behalf and claim that Adam was yelling at her, threatening her, even with his arms at his side. In that scenario, a District Attorney might decide that he cannot prove the case beyond every reasonable doubt because there is no evidence to contradict the claim of "defense of others," and coming to her rescue by punching the guy who was assaulting her could be seen as reasonable force despite the unforseen outcome (using a deadly weapon, for example, would not). Unfortunately, I've seen a lot of women lie for "their man." The problem I see with that reasoning is: 1) there are other witnesses who were around them who could say whether they appeared to be in an argument or conversation. 2) when it appears to be contradicted by Adam's body language, I would let a jury decide. I think you're doing the right thing raising these questions. Has the media been raising these points? "

    Reply to this email to comment on this post.

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    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      I don't understand this post. What is the intended value of an admittedly uninformed opinion? "I don’t have the benefit of knowing what the police investigation showed or what statements the DA obtained" means "I probably don't have many of the facts".

      Am I to believe that Carlton supporters expect him to set aside the law any try cases where there's clearly an independently verified reasonable doubt? What am I missing?

      • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

        Okay Educate You…I guess I'd just say…Well I figure, the fellow is a Judge,
        was a past judge in real life, was a DA, was an ex cop…and I figured his
        take on the video would be interesting…One thing he made clear was…

        He would have turned it over to a jury…and make it public if it did not happen…
        we have sure accomplished that now…haven't we. I'm betting it's almost
        Benito Finito time!

  22. Avatar California Dreaming says:

    @ Educate Me:

    How can you be an attorney and not go to court? That is the absurdity that characterizes Jerry Benito. Simply put,that is not leadership. That is not even management. Benito cannot mentor, he cannot lead by example and he cannot keep many dedicated employees. You say you've researched, and wish to avoid what you consider "insinuations"–but you engage in rank speculation as a basis for your view. That makes no sense. No well-managed civil service agency–let alone private business–can thrive on near 100 percent turnover. That, however, is exactly what you have with Benito. Are all these former prosecutors wrong, and is Benito therfore the only one who's right? Benito's failings and mismanagement of the office are the stuff of legend. It's time for a change. Benito has lost the public's trust, no question about it. Carlton has the integrity to be fair, and, truly, to seek justice for all. One last point: you mention poll results indicating public distrust of trial attorneys, but fail to remember Benito practiced criminal defense for years. He doesn't want you to know that, and has been careful to shove that aspect of his career under the rug. So much for his integrity–the same integrity that makes his current deputies fear and tremble lest they fall victim to his wrath. It's the same integrity issue that caused the Adam Martinez debacle. Or the Shelby Allen case. VOTE CARLTON!

    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      Let's see…. Not sure where to stat my reply…. do I try to address the straw man or go strait for the ad hominems and irrelevant appeals? How about your false dilemma? So many fallacies so little time….

      I used the pseudonym "educate me" because I honestly wanted to understand if there were substantive and non-contradictory reasons for supporting Carlton.

      • Avatar California Dreaming says:

        Educate me,

        Why don't you start with answering the simple question I posed at the beginning: How can you be an attorney and not go to court? Benito is the DISTRICT ATTORNEY. THE District attorney. He intentionally misses important meetings within the court system because he refuses to remove his shoes. How can he, or you, justify that? How can he observe his deputies' in-court performance? Why would he deliberately seek to alienate the judges and cause a decline in the D.A.'s Office's reputation (thus undermining its effectiveness in advocating cases) if he knew how to lead well?

        I have not engaged in arguing informal fallacies as you suggest. Your most recent post, to me, is entirely disappointing because it suggests you had your mind made up all along and, in truth, did not really want to be "educated." For the future, I encourage you to not waste others' time as you have apparently wasted mine.