The California Supreme Court ruled against SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow

In 2020, we faced major changes, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May of that year. Floyd’s death was a powder keg that sparked protests across the country, including here in San Luis Obispo County.

In July 2020, 20-year-old Tianna Arata led hundreds of protesters on Highway 101, blocking the road in both directions for about an hour. District Attorney Dan Dow charged Arata with 13 felonies in connection with the incident and charged six other protesters who were involved.

This long and protracted case is still on people’s minds, especially Dow, who twice appealed the decision of the national judge that his office could not sue because of his political views. The views in question were expressed in the context of a September 2020 political campaign email from his wife, Wendy Dow, on behalf of him. The email cited Dow as “leading the fight against police harassment.” San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Matthew Guerrero ruled the email a “clear conflict of interest.”

The state Court of Appeals agreed, and the California Supreme Court ruled on January 11 that it would not hear arguments about the local DA’s involvement in the prosecution of the case. . This means that the California Attorney General’s Office will now prosecute this case.

Regardless of how one feels about the matter, this is a blemish on Dow’s record as a lawyer for two reasons.

Justice is blind, that’s the best it should be. A District Attorney should impartially judge a case based on the law, not lead a fight against someone. a political or social process.

When his office charged Arata, Dow appeared Washington Watch and Tony Perkinsis a daily political publication that features the views of Perkins, who famously described the Black Lives Matter movement as a “Marxist” group that promoted “police killings, prostitution, anti-Semitism, violence, and suppression of speech and religion. .”

In September 2020, Dow appeared on the top Facebook group “PROtect Paso” to plead for the satisfaction of his opponents and explain why he accused Arata of several crimes than crimes. The group was created out of fear and resistance to local BLM protests, with its members constantly and hotly denigrating the movement.

In October 2020, Dow spoke with conservative politician Candace Owens at a fundraiser for “New California,” a right-wing organization that pushed for a new state to be created in California. In the episode, Owens described BLM as “one of the most racist practices that has ever existed in this country.”

Dow himself may not have shared those comments, but he used the Arata case as a springboard to enter political discussions about it. Clearly, Dow was more concerned about appealing to his political position than using the technical, procedural skills of the prosecution.

In their appeal, the DA’s Office argued that the local judge’s decision violated Dow’s First Amendment rights and would have long-term implications against prosecutors who pointed out that their political beliefs – the accused can easily ask lawyers to withdraw their cases based on such reasons. However, the First Amendment is not at risk. A district attorney can exercise their special discretion not to make an opinion or agree with those who think about the politics involved in their cases. However, making that decision has clear consequences, because that thing completely breaks the semblance of justice.

If he wants to express his political views that are directly related to his subjects or to be used equally with those who have similar views, he should The Dow should resign and seek a government position that does not affect people’s rights to a fair trial.

Whenever Dow’s handling of the Arata case is discussed, his support is usually focused on talking about the Arata case itself as if this particular set of decisions had any real impact on fact of the matter. They don’t. They dwell on Arata and the way he chose to live his life, but what is happening now has nothing to do with him and everything to do with Dow.

For more than two years, Dow supporters have chatted incoherently about protesters being punished to the fullest extent of the law with their digital ticker lights on full display, but they rarely relent. how the credibility of any charge is effectively undermined by Dow’s zeal for politics. .

Because of Dow, the state Attorney General’s Office is now facing an uphill battle to prosecute a years-long case that requires careful consideration for any political decision that affects the way it is presented. to the first chapter. One of those decisions involves the DA’s Office allegedly subpoenaing a “John Doe” witness to reveal what happened. affected In October 2020, an attorney representing an unnamed witness said one of the DA’s investigators told his client that “it would be very helpful for us if but fear” one of the road drivers blocked by protesters.

What a shame for the DA’s Office and SLO County. ∆

Aaron Ochs has many ideas and shares from Morro Bay. Write a reply to the publication by email letters@newtimesslo.com.

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