Thank you, all, for your patience and support during 2021. It has been an incredibly trying year for Plumas County as we lost whole communities to that insidious fire. Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the horrible Dixie Fire. At the DA’s office we have resolved to do our very best in continuing to serve Plumas County in a just and fair way while supporting our Plumas County residents who, individually and collectively, have demonstrated a heroic resilience and strength.
In my 29 years as a prosecutor I am not sure I could have imagined a year this challenging for the District Attorney’s Office. In 2021, we faced a pandemic, fires, floods, blizzards, road closures, power outages and continue to adapt to changing California laws friendly to the offender, apathetic to the victim and inconsistent with public safety as a priority. This year we have found ourselves filling cars with boxes of files as part of an evacuation order while working with staggered staffing to avoid Covid-19 as we appear in court representing the Plumas County residents each and every day.
Through all of these trials I have never been more proud of the men and women of the DA’s office. It has been a privilege to serve with each individually and to be part of the office we have built. I have no doubt, if you saw the commitment and effort made by these folks on a daily basis, you would be equally proud and feel your tax dollars are being well spent.
I am pleased to report Plumas County remains a safe place to live, work and play and am grateful to our law enforcement partners for their efforts to this end. We do, however, still face a level of crime warranting our full and complete attention. During 2021, the DA’s office obtained convictions in cases involving murder, vehicular manslaughter, sexual assault, burglary, grand theft, domestic violence, drug trafficking, child abuse, driving under the influence and arson, to name but a few classes of crime we have successfully prosecuted.
Statistically, we received 943 referrals from law enforcement, including the Sheriff’s Office, CHP Quincy and Susanville, Fish and Game, Parole, and the DA’s Investigative Unit. Including probation violations, we filed criminal charges in 757 cases. These 757 cases, excluding juvenile delinquency cases, led to 5,130 appearances in court. Using prosecutor/case ratios from throughout the state, this caseload requires 5 prosecutors. Fully staffed the Plumas County DA’s Office has 3 prosecutors but has worked most of the year with just 2 prosecutors.
During 2021, despite being understaffed and dealing with pandemics, fires, evacuations and the like, the DA’s Office made every single one of its 5,130 court appearances, on time and prepared, and maintained its normal, pre-pandemic office hours. Additionally, for the 11th straight year, the Plumas County DA’s Office did not suffer a single conviction being reversed on appeal. While these daily accomplishments may seem small relative to some of our past, more highly publicized cases, they are crucial in promoting a fair and just criminal justice system and could not be accomplished without the remarkable efforts of each and every member of the DA’s Office and our many partners.
In addition to our traditional prosecution efforts, the DA’s Alternative Sentencing Program (ASP) has achieved amazing results in both their pretrial release and the Community Justice Court programs to the point they have been recognized by receiving both federal and state competitive grants as well as an innovation award from the California State Association of Counties. More important than trophies and grant funding, ASP has provided structure and programming to allow low-level offenders on the wrong side of the law right their lives, end addiction and become valuable members of our community.
As tough as 2021 was, I appreciate 2022 may feature similar hardships. I also know we are not done with our work – there are a number of areas where we can do better and further help Plumas County’s criminal justice system and the citizens of Plumas County. With your continued support and the ongoing dedicated work of the men and women of the DA’s Office, I look forward to these challenges and in continuing to provide the highest level of service.
Again, thank you for your support and Happy New Year.