DA race neck-and-neck

Jeff Rosen, left, and Dolores Carr

Incumbent Dolores Carr and challenger Jeff Rosen are locked in a
neck-and-neck battle for the District Attorney seat with more than
half of the county’s precincts counted, according to the Santa
Clara County Registrar’s Office.
Incumbent Dolores Carr and challenger Jeff Rosen are locked in a neck-and-neck battle for the District Attorney seat with more than half of the county’s precincts counted, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar’s Office.

As of 12 a.m., Rosen was leading Carr by 1,696 votes – or 1.08 percent of the vote, according to the registrar. With 661 of the county’s 1,177 precincts counted, Rosen had 78,670 votes to Carr’s 76,974. At that point, both candidates were waiting out the votes at their respective election celebrations – Carr at Britannia Arms Almaden, a San Jose pub, and Rosen’s at Agenda, a restaurant and lounge in San Jose.

“We’re just waiting for the votes to come in and they certainly are taking their time,” said Carr, Santa Clara County’s current district attorney.

Though she had not done any polling before the election, Carr said she wasn’t surprised with the way the race was playing out.

“We knew based on the kind of campaign that it would be close,” she said. “We’re very optimistic so we’ll wait until all the votes come in and see.”

Rosen said he was confident he would maintain his lead.

“We’ve been ahead from the beginning and our lead continues to grow,” he said. Like Carr, Rosen did not conduct polling ahead of time, but “we knew that we were doing well and that we were gaining momentum as the days and weeks went by. I feel confident that we’re going to win.”

The race between Carr and Rosen – a deputy district attorney and Carr’s employee – was a contentious battle with both contenders calling into question the ethics of their opponent. Rosen took a leave of absence from the DA’s Office during his campaign against his boss.

While Carr ran on her record as DA, citing accomplishments in crime prevention, an increase in the accessibility to and efficiency of her office, and greater emphasis on community outreach, Rosen pointed to “a series of unethical decisions and poor judgments” made by Carr as impetus for a change in leadership.

Rosen, 42, faulted Carr, 56, for eliminating the Office’s Cold Case Unit, getting caught up in a conflict of interest in a homicide case that involved her husband, and boycotting a Superior Court judge.

“I’m running to restore ethics and integrity to the Office of the District Attorney,” Rosen said in a April interview. “The problem is not the office. It’s the District Attorney.”

In a section titled “Setting the Record Straight” on her website, Carr addressed several of these issues.

The family of a man murdered in May 2008 in a bank parking lot hired Carr’s husband, a retired San Jose police lieutenant, as a consultant in a civil lawsuit against the bank for its failure to maintain safe premises, Carr said. When police arrested several suspects and brought the criminal case before the DA, Carr informed an assistant DA of her husband’s involvement and removed herself from the case, she said. Shortly after, her office handed the case over to the Attorney General’s Office. Her husband returned the money he had been paid as a consultant and Carr addressed the potential conflict and promised that it wouldn’t happen again in the future.

“I’m not perfect,” Carr said in April. “But if I make a mistake, I own up to it and I make it right.”

Additionally, Rosen said he didn’t agree with the “blackballing” of Superior Court Judge Andrea Bryan that’s taken place since the judge freed a convicted child molester in January. Carr defended her move to use a peremptory challenge against Bryan, saying her office lacked faith that the judge would consider cases fairly and that her challenge was preceded by the filing of similar challenges by several of her deputies.

Although he lacks Carr’s 30 years of experience, Rosen cited his successful prosecution of 50 child molesters and rapists, his success in almost all of the 65 jury trials he’s tried, and the partnerships he’s cultivated with police officers and the community as some of his greatest accomplishments.

A graduate of the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, Rosen has been a prosecutor for 15 years. He is married with two daughters.

Like Rosen, Carr called her opponent’s ethics into question.

“I have a record and I’m proud of my record,” Carr said. “What my opponent has is the ability to sit on the sidelines and criticize when he’s never done the job or anything close to the job. It’s easy as a challenger to throw stones at an incumbent who has actually done something. His platform is attacking me.”

As DA, Carr manages an $85 million budget and more than 500 people and has worked to rid the office of the “win at all costs” culture that posed ethical dilemmas in the past, she said.

“Voting for my opponent is a return to the old days because he is a part of that culture,” she said.

According to Carr, Rosen was flagged for prosecutorial misconduct and still hasn’t apologized publicly. Rosen responded that his unintended violation of a judge’s order in a sexual assault case by asking a witness a question the judge had forbidden was “harmless” and that even the defense attorney involved in that case, Damon Silver, has endorsed his candidacy.

During her tenure as DA, Carr worked to reign in gang violence after the gang homicide rate spiked in San Jose in 2007, she said.

“We’ve been not only aggressive in terms of prosecution but in prevention,” she said. She credited her office’s Parent Project, which aids parents of young adults in keeping them out of gangs and away from other criminal behavior, as a successful tool in combating gang violence.

Bringing accountability back to the office by training supervisors, setting standards and reaching out to the community with the help of two public information officers are other accomplishments, she said.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Carr graduated from Southwestern University School of Law. After returning to the Bay Area in 1981, she clerked at a private practice before being hired as a deputy district attorney. In 2000, Carr was elected as a Superior Court Judge. Six years later, she began her term as Santa Clara County’s first female district attorney. Carr and her husband currently live in Almaden Valley.

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