District attorney candidates’ forum ends on sharp note

Maggy Krell directed a sharp-edged blast at Anne Marie Schubert in the final moments of Wednesday’s Sacramento County district attorney candidates forum when she criticized her opponent for accepting pay raises in recent years while the office was laying off line prosecutors and shutting down its police review unit.

“This election is about whether you believe that a few selected prosecutors like my opponent at the top should be accepting pay raises year after year when line prosecutors receive pink slips and crimes went unprosecuted,” Krell said at the forum sponsored by the Sacramento County Bar Association and held at McGeorge School of Law.

“This administration gave management raises while cutting line staff and telling the public that misdemeanors wouldn’t be prosecuted and officer-involved shootings wouldn’t be reviewed,” Krell said.

Krell, a deputy attorney general, said “that’s not integrity and that’s not leadership and that’s not putting public safety first.”

Schubert, a deputy district attorney, said in an interview after the forum, “I don’t know what she's talking about.” Schubert said of her salary as supervisor of the DA’s special assault and child abuse unit. “Those are contractual issues” that were “negotiated years in advance.” She said the Sacramento County DA’s Office was one of the few in the state that furloughed its upper management and gave up a cost-of-living increase to save jobs.

“Why don't you challenge me on my merits?” Schubert said in the interview. “If you're going to challenge me on my merits, there's no question who is most qualified.”

Krell’s comments on Schubert’s salary represented the only injection of emotion in the presentation, which also featured the third candidate in the race, Todd Leras, a former Sacramento County and federal prosecutor who entered the race later than his two opponents and has raised far less money than they have.

The three candidates all said they would enforce the death penalty and they restated their positions on the state’s realignment law, with Krell and Leras in favor of the measure enacted in 2011 that has shifted responsibility for incarcerating and supervising lower-level offenders from the state to the the local level, while Schubert again voiced reservations that it poses a potential public safety problem. She cited the recent David Ming Lee case in which the Folsom Lake College student only got minimal time for bringing a loaded handgun onto campus after having posted threatening comments on his Facebook page.

All three candidates agreed that black and Latino juveniles have been subject to disproportionate numbers of prosecutions as adults, and all three promised to get involved in community programs to address the problem on the front end, before the youthful offenders are charged with serious crimes.

Krell called for the creation of a “public integrity unit” to prosecute corruption cases that would include a police shooting and misconduct unit. Leras also said there needs to be a “dedicated prosecutor” for public corruption, while Schubert said the office already has a special investigations unit that is prosecuting Twin Rivers Unified School District board member Cortez Quinn, who allegedly accepted illegal loans from a school employee, falsified a paternity test and used it in court to deny paternity. The unit also successfully targeted Sacramento police officer Brandon Mullock for falsifying information in drunken-driving cases and former mayoral assistant Lisa Serna-Mayorga for felony misappropriation of funds.

It wasn’t until her closing remarks that Krell launched her attack on Schubert’s pay. Krell was the last of the “three candidates to conclude her presentation. She first sought to draw a distinction between herself and Schubert on who would provide better leadership as the state comes to a “pivotal crossroads” in criminal justice philosophy between policies that are more oriented toward incarceration and those that she supports that would place a greater emphasis on alternatives to jails and prison. In her close, Krell first criticized Schubert on the Proposition 36 “three-strikes” reform measure that the voters approved but “which my opponent strongly opposed.”

Forum moderator Beth Ruyak of Capitol Public Radio gave Schubert 30 seconds to respond, and the deputy DA said it was “not true at all” that she “adamantly opposed” Proposition 36. Interviewed later, Schubert said she was “sure I opposed” but not “strongly,” as Krell suggested, the initiative that now bars 25-to-life terms unless the third felony is categorized as serious or violent. Schubert said she was “perfectly fine” with the measure, and that the Sacramento DA’s Office had already been practicing “what Proposition 36 does.”

The Krell campaign produced a document after the debate that showed Schubert’s base salary increasing from $97,000 in 2003 to $152,000 in 2012, with added benefits bringing her total compensation package to $201,000. The salary increases took place at a time when the DA’s Office was reduced from 484 employees in 2008 to 390 in 2012, according to the research from the Krell campaign.

Krell said in an interview after the forum that she makes a base salary of $96,000 and was earning $65,000 to $70,000 in 2003.

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