Contra Costa DA lobbies for gang injunctions

Mark Peterson

Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson is furiously lobbying fellow elected officials for their support of the use of gang injunctions in high-crime areas such as Richmond.

Find links below to video of his recent speech at the Contra Costa Mayors Conference and view his Powerpoint slideshow. (Apologies for the late posting. We have been having technical difficulties with embedding of videos and document links.)

It’s a highly controversial technique in which prosecutors seek a court order that prohibits known gang members from congregating in certain neighborhoods and allows police to arrest the violators.

Contra Costa has never used the technique but Alameda County has had two approved injunctions in the past year and survived legal challenges.

Whether or not Peterson — a new elected district attorney with an eye on making his mark — can cultivate political support for gang injunctions is an open question.

Critics call it an horrific abuse of civil liberties while crime-fighters tout its effectiveness at curbing gang violence.

Its most likely use would be in Richmond, where progressive city leaders will almost certainly oppose it. But Antioch and Concord have had gang-related crime issues, too.

Peterson also outlined during his speech other pieces of his agenda including an anti-truancy campaign.

Click here to watch video.

Click here to view slideshow.





Contra Costa DA pulls out of AG investigation

Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson will no longer permit his staff to aide the attorney general’s investigation of a recently reinstated prosecutor, Michael Gressett, charged with the rape of a colleague.

Read the full story by reporter John Simerman here. But here are the first few paragraphs:

In his campaign last year for Contra Costa County district attorney, Mark Peterson railed at how the office investigated disturbing rape allegations against Michael Gressett, a veteran prosecutor whom he supervised in the sex crimes unit. As top dog, Peterson said he would have backed off and let another agency handle it.

Now he has.

“I sent the Attorney General’s Office a letter on Jan. 21 informing them I recused our office in terms of any investigation or involvement in the prosecution,” he said. “Obviously, anybody in our office is free to talk to either side in the case. If somebody is asked to give a statement, they can choose to if they wish. If they’re subpoenaed to testify, I’d expect them to respond truthfully and fully.”

Gressett, 54, returned to the county payroll this week, due back pay and benefits, after an arbitrator ruled Monday that the county failed to justify his July 2009 firing over the rape allegation and five other causes. The arbitrator, Norman Brand, agreed with Gressett that his firing was “tainted by political animosity.”

See Peterson’s letter below.

Peterson letter to AG


DA: Peterson hits back on O’Malley letter

District Attorney candidate Mark Peterson sent over this response a few minutes ago to opponent Dan O’Malley’s letter of yesterday:

Mr. O’Malley needs to get his facts straight. His claim – that I was somehow responsible for an alleged sexual assault that occurred between two coworkers – is shamefully false, and he knows it. The facts are as follows:

An alleged sexual assault took place between two deputy district attorneys in May of 2008, during the lunch hour, in one of their homes. My opponent Mr. O’Malley, and his supporters in the office, were informed of the alleged assault within just a few days of its alleged occurrence. At no time did Dan O’Malley or the administration inform me, as head of the Sexual Assault Unit, that one of my subordinates allegedly had raped another deputy district attorney.

Mr. O’Malley also claims that I’m responsible for the alleged sexual assault because of what he asserts was inappropriate sexual talk, in the District Attorney’s Office, which allegedly took place during the lunch hour. First, it’s patently obvious that I cannot control people’s lunch hour discussions. Second, during the entire two years that I led the Sexual Assault Unit, not one person complained about inappropriate sexual discussions. No member of the public complained, nor did any support staff, attorney, police officer, or investigator ever complain. Nobody. The Chief of Investigators worked in that same unit during the entire time I led it, and he never lodged any complaint about inappropriate speech. Nor did he ever receive one. Further, the suggestion that sexual banter, even if it did occur, is the cause of a violent rape, is patently absurd. It’s simply an example of how desperate my opponent’s claims have become.

Dan O’Malley, and the failed administration that seeks to turn the keys to the office over to him, hid this alleged crime from me, from the Martinez Police Department, from the public, and from all of the women working in the District Attorney’s Office, for over four months, until September, 2008. I first learned about this alleged rape when the rest of the public did, in late September, 2008, when the alleged assailant was arrested.

Mr. O’Malley is now trying to exploit this incident for political gain; he makes the outrageous claim that I’m somehow responsible for the alleged sexual assault, by virtue of the fact the alleged assailant worked in my unit. He fails to mention that the encounter between the two individuals occurred during the lunch hour, and in a private home. My supervisoral responsibilities hardly included following each and every one of my employees, into their homes, during their lunch hour.

Finally, Mr. O’Malley claims that I was demoted because of this alleged sexual assault. The facts, however, are different: The accused assailant was a political opponent of the District Attorney. After his arrest, an in-house investigation was begun. I suggested to my superiors that an outside agency should investigate the alleged crime, independently, rather than have District Attorney employees do it. This was necessary, as a matter of prosecutorial ethics, in order to avoid the appearance of bias. After I spoke up and challenged this unethical behavior, I was transferred out of the Sexual Assault Unit.

Mr. O’Malley’s disgraceful suggestion – that somehow I’m responsible for an alleged sexual assault – is shocking. The real irony is that he knew more about the sexual assault than I ever did. Nobody – not him, not his buddies within the office who knew about it, nobody in the District Attorney’s office – ever reported the alleged assault to me. But as I said, Mr. O’Malley and his cronies knew about the accusation. They knew about it for 4 long months. During that time, they never called the police. Dan O’Malley and his friends never told the women working in the office that they were possibly working alongside a violent rapist.

Since then, Mr. O’Malley has been seriously inconsistent about when he first became aware of the assault. He was asked to turn over his telephone records to substantiate his claims. He refused. Mr. O’Malley has resisted all efforts to turn over his telephone records, which would shed light upon his involvement. The man who wants to become our county’s chief law enforcement officer refuses to turn over his own telephone records in a rape investigation. Shocking.

When this campaign began, Mr. O’Malley informed me, and others, that he did not agree with the decision to transfer me out of the Sexual Assault Unit because of this incident. Now that he lags seriously behind in the polls, he’s managed to convince himself that the entire event is my fault. Mr. O’Malley also said to me, and to others, that he would never use the alleged sexual assault as a political weapon in this campaign. But, following his serious setback in the June primary, Mr. O’Malley actually commissioned a political poll, in order to see how he can exploit this incident for his own political advantage.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there. In the wake of this incident, and in the ensuing investigation, Mr. O’Malley and his colleagues at his criminal defense firm offered false, fabricated testimony, from a prostitute, against the accused political opponent. In exchange for that false testimony, and while Mr. O’Malley served as attorney of record, they engineered the release of a six-time felon / convicted child molester. After his release, this child molester took part in the attempted home invasion robbery of an innocent family. More than 30 shots were fired. All of these facts are fully documented, at www.thefactsaboutdan.com.

Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.


Mark Peterson

Candidate for District Attorney


DA: O’Malley responds to Concord police statement

Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley sent out this press release a few minutes ago in response to an Oct. 12 statement from the Concord Police Association about his candidacy:



Response from DA Candidate and former Judge Dan O’Malley

I am saddened that a Concord Police Officers’ Association board member recently chose to criticize me for representing a victim of domestic violence. I would like to clarify several inaccuracies in his letter to you. I know and trained many, many Concord Police Officers during my twelve years as an instructor at the local Police Academy and a deputy district attorney at the District Attorney’s Office, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the working cop on the street.

I admit that I represent a VICTIM of Domestic Violence, however, I never reached out to any news agency on this topic for political gain. In fact, it was Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times who contacted me, and asked the following question: ‘Why does a victim of Domestic Violence need a lawyer to advocate for her?’ In a thirty minute discussion, I expressed my views regarding society’s treatment of women and who are victimized by batterers and sex offenders.

We must continually educate ourselves about domestic violence. My comment was not a criticism of the outstanding law enforcement officers in Contra Costa County. Rather, it stemmed more from my personal experience that the more I know, the more I realize there is to learn. My goal is to provide forums and multi-disciplinary trainings to promote ongoing awareness and education for all professionals responding to violence against women. Many of the Concord Police Officers appreciate these efforts of on-going training to understand the subtleties of violence against women and girls.

In fact, while the officer was writing his political hit piece of me, his colleagues who specialize in domestic violence reached out to the Alameda District Attorneys’ Office, requesting specialized training on the intricacies of domestic violence and human trafficking.

Training is a good thing. Collaborating with our Advocate partners, such as STAND For Families Free of Violence, allows all law enforcement professionals to do our jobs in the best way we can. In fact, I was honored just two months ago by the Family Stress Center (STAND’s partner) for my work towards the prevention of family violence. Just last week, two of the most prominent victims’ rights groups in California, Citizens for Law and Order, and the Crime Victims Action Alliance, honored me with their endorsements for District Attorney.

POST provides ongoing law enforcement training in domestic violence and CDAA provides DV training for Prosecutors. I support both statewide organizations wholeheartedly.

While I have the utmost respect for the working police officers of the Concord Police Department, it is unfortunate that the Union leadership of that department is elevating politics over the needs of victims of violent crimes. All of us in the law enforcement community should be able to agree that every day we need to strive to become better advocates for victims. It is when we think we have nothing to learn that we need to learn the most.

Regarding their endorsement of Mark Peterson, I will invite them to investigate the following facts:

• Under Mark Peterson’s watch, the Contra Costa District Attorneys’ Office was brought to shame when a young female Deputy DA was allegedly brutally raped.

• Peterson turned a blind eye because his good friend and direct subordinate was the alleged rapist.

• The investigation yielded a sex scandal involving the now infamous “Anal Sex Club” that had been occurring in Peterson’s division.

• That’s why he was demoted and that’s why Mark Peterson is in no position to call himself an advocate when it comes to protecting women from sexual or domestic abuse.

I will always side with the victim. Period. Maybe that’s why 95% of police officers support me.

Dan O’Malley


DA: Anti-Peterson video hits YouTube

Supporters of Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley have produced their own Willie Horton-style ad that targets opponent Mark Peterson.

It’s unclear who produced the anti-Peterson video or where they intend to air it. O’Malley has said he had nothing to do with it. It would cost thousands of dollars to run it on cable, but for now, it’s on YouTube and http//contracostada.com. (I checked the domain registry and it shows “private.”)

The anti-O’Malley ad features the attorney’s role in the defense of a guy who was released and was later allegedly involved in a home invasion robbery. Click here to watch the anti-O’Malley ad.

The anti-Peterson video (see below) says that Peterson was responsible for errors that allowed accused child molester Elidio Gonzalez Bautista to be released from a  Mexican prison in 2008 before he could be extradited to the United States. The victims’ family blamed prosecutors, saying they dragged their feet and even District Attorney Bob Kochly said his office had made mistakes. At the time, Peterson managed the sex crimes unit.

Bautista was found roughly six months later, re-arrested and sent to Contra Costa County, where he is on now awaits trial.

Reached by phone, Peterson described the Bautista delay as a logistical miscommunication between county prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Justice, which processes extradition requests. During the process, Mexican authorities released Bautista.

“Dan’s supporters are simply trying to divert attention away from the fact that (O’Malley) spends his time trying to get accused criminals out of jail,” Peterson said.

UPDATE 10:07 AM FRIDAY: Comments posted to this blog entry mention a newspaper story in which they say Peterson admitted to the mistake. They point to a link where the Contra Costa Times story has been scanned and posted. Unfortunately, the scan quality is too poor to read the text of the second page, so I cannot yet tell you if this statement is accurate. The story didn’t show up in my Nexis search yesterday of the Bautista case and I’m trying to find out why. In the meantime, I posted below the 11 stories in the CCT about Bautista that appeared as a result of my Nexis search of “Elidio Bautista. ” None of these clips mention Peterson, although one quotes District Attorney Bob Kochly in which he states that the office made a mistake.  I have asked our news research experts to see if they can find an archived, electronic copy of the story in our system somewhere , and I will post it below as soon as I get it.

UPDATE 12:04 PM FRIDAY: Our research folks found the clip in our electronic archives and I have posted it in its entirety below. With respect to Peterson, the story said, in part, the following:

Prosecutors said they had never before extradited a suspect, and missteps and delays occurred.

Bautista’s release in February shocked them as much as it did Calderon, said Deputy District Attorney Mark Peterson. ” We were told this guy was not getting out until April, ” Peterson said. ” We made a decision to bring this guy back. We responded as quickly as we could.”



DA: Concord police jab O’Malley





The fractious Contra Costa County District Attorney’s race continued today with a fire-breathing press release from the Concord Police Officers Association.

The Concord police union says candidate Dan O’Malley “disrespected” them when he was quoted in this blog and the Contra Costa Times saying that many prosecutors and law enforcement officers don’t understand some of the intricacies of victims rights.

“Criminal defense attorney Dan O’Malley is the last person we need to take advice from,” the union wrote. “On his law firm’s website, Mr. O’Malley advertises as follows: “If you have been arrested or charged with domestic violence or spousal abuse . . . [t]he attorney’s at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley . . . will vigorously defend you to make sure your rights are protected.”

Read the full release below.

O’Malley called the move more piling on orchestrated by his opponent, Mark Peterson, and Mary Jo Rossi, the campaign consultant that works for Peterson and the Concord police union. Peterson has consistently campaigned as a career prosecutor, while repeatedly reminding voters that O’Malley has been a private defense attorney who represented those accused of crimes for the past decade.

The Concord police union has endorsed Peterson over O’Malley, although it is the sole law enforcement union in the county to prefer Peterson.

“It’s ironic that unrelated to me or our conversation, a couple of weeks ago, the brass at Concord police asked the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to conduct some training on the intricacies of domestic violence and human trafficking,” O’Malley said. “And the folks over at STAND Against Domestic Violence hold special training for law enforcement every year for this very reason. It doesn’t mean the police are doing a bad job. It means that the intricacies of being a victim and the support system that the victim needs is so complicated that we have to do training over and over.”

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