Vail Daily letter: Mehrnia for district attorney
October 21, 2016
I am writing to endorse Sanam Mehrina for the office of district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District.
As a former prosecutor who has practiced in this jurisdiction for more than 25 years I have decided to support Sanam's candidacy. The district attorney must be above politics. Having working as a deputy DA for 10 years, I can tell you from experience that a prosecutor must make decisions based not upon political considerations, but upon a fair rational and just approach to each and every case. Sanam possesses the qualities to be an independent prosecutor who will not succumb to political expediency.
District attorneys are held to a higher standard than other lawyers. The incumbent DA has completely disregarded the American Bar Association standards pertaining to the filing of criminal charges. There has been an epidemic of overcharging defendants over the last few years, and the DA's office has continuously filed charges for which there is not a reasonable probability of conviction as required by the ABA standards.
Sanam is an honest and ethical lawyer who will respect her authority as a prosecutor. Prosecutors need to competently and fairly discharge their responsibilities.
Recently a serious felony theft case involving hundreds of thousands of dollars was dismissed because the district attorney failed to comply with the rules which clearly required that the prosecution join that charge with another pending charge. Instead of seeking a disposition involving both pending cases, the DA agreed to a plea bargain in the first case, thereby creating a situation where the judge had no choice but to dismiss the second case, leaving the victims out in the cold.
Not only are some victims disappointed about this incompetence, many defendants feel mistreated by the system as a result of the overzealous prosecution in misdemeanor and lesser felony cases. Sanam advocates restorative justice, which will be of benefit to everyone in our community. Violent crimes must take priority. Having represented numerous felony and misdemeanor defendants over the last four years, I can attest to the fact that cases are being overcharged and that inequitable plea bargains are being coerced. Many cases have been dismissed or lost at trial, which is connected to the DA's failure to properly prioritize.
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I believe that Sanam has her priorities straight, and will see to it that violent offenders are brought to justice. People don't respect authority anymore and I can't blame them. The system has become more punitive and less rehabilitative. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, especially drug offenders. There is a substantial lack of affordable resources available for those who need counseling for mental health, family and substance abuse issues. Alternatives to sentencing such as adult diversion and community corrections are non-existent in the Fifth Judicial District.
Sanam has promised to bring humanity to justice, which is why I am voting for her on Nov. 8.
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