The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris has informed the county that Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen broke no laws when giving some of his top deputies extra admin leave to make up for lost wages.
In a letter to County Executive Jeff Smith, who asked the AG to start a civil investigation in April, Alicia Fowler, a senior assistant attorney general in the Employment and Administrative Mandate division, wrote: “Based on all the information that the county provided to us, including extensive documentation and in-person interviews, we have concluded that there has been no violation of law.”
Starting two years ago, Rosen began granting extra admin leave to his supervising deputy district attorneys (SuDDAs), who then had the ability to use that time for days off and cash out vacation time, making up for an extra five percent in wages SuDDAs gave away—compared to other union members—during the Government Attorneys Association’s (GAA) labor negotiations with the county. Rosen defended the action as a way to compensate his top prosecutors who work extensive overtime hours, but Smith and the GAA said it was an end-run around negotiated concessions.
GAA President Max Zarzana repeatedly criticized Rosen’s admin leave policy, and Christopher Platten, an attorney who represents the GAA, went so far as to claim that Rosen may have broken the law.
In a phone conversation with San Jose Inside on Monday afternoon, Rosen thanked Harris’ office for the review and noted that the decision reaffirms the DA’s ability to grant admin leave, “a practice goes back 30 years,” he said.
“The county Board of Supervisors is not authorized to govern the action of the sheriff or the district attorney,” Rosen continued. “They may grant me my budget, but how I spend my resources within the budget—that’s up to the discretion of the DA, and that was reaffirmed today.”
There’s some suspicion that the attacks on Rosen are in response to the DA’s disciplinary actions toward prosecutors who hold back evidence or violated procedures. Zarzana and other union leaders seem to want a changing of the guard, and Chuck Gillingham Jr. has been rumored to be a potential challenger to Rosen in next year’s election.
Josh Koehn contributed to this article.