Op-Ed: Santa Clara County Deserves a New District Attorney

On Valentine’s Day, I published an op-ed in the Mercury News about the recent surge of violence against Asian Americans and the need for balanced criminal justice reforms to protect victims and communities. As an Asian-American prosecutor in a county where Asians have been the largest racial group since 2014, I felt compelled to speak out. At the time, more than a month before the Atlanta spa mass shootings, there was a deafening silence by many local community leaders.

One such leader was Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, the most powerful law enforcement official in Silicon Valley and also my boss. Instead of upholding the First Amendment and sharing his vision for protecting the Asian community, DA Rosen chose to swiftly and furiously retaliate against me, the only Asian prosecutor in his office who had publicly spoken out about the violence against Asians.

Immediately after my op-ed publication, I was notified to appear at a hearing with an attorney, to answer pretextual allegations that I had used my official title without authorization. Furthermore, I was immediately reassigned from a Violent Felony trial assignment to Mental Health Court and then to Juvenile Justice. Two reassignments in two days, right after my publication, with no customary notice or explanation. What does it say of DA Rosen’s views of Mental Health Court and Juvenile Justice that he exiled me there as punishment?

Why did DA Rosen not want an Asian prosecutor in his office speaking out against violence against Asians? Because my balanced approach to criminal justice reforms impeded his political aspirations. At the time, DA Rosen wanted to be appointed the next California attorney general, a position requiring progressive credentials under Gov. Newsom. Next year, DA Rosen is also facing re-election. Progressive reformers have been thirsty for wholesale change, and having half-baked progressive convictions, DA Rosen has had his finger to the wind, disingenuously pivoting himself to be perceived as a progressive prosecutor.

Instead of celebrating diversity of identities and perspectives in his own office and concretely demonstrating his commitment to racial justice and the Asian community in Santa Clara County, DA Rosen chose to pursue his political ambitions. The cost? Silence and more violence.

What does it say of DA Rosen’s commitment to prosecuting violence against Asians when he was more interested in immediately reassigning me than ensuring a smooth transition for over 100 dockets involving the most violent assaults, robberies, shootings, and attempted murders? A veritable mountain of my cases involving hundreds of victims and witnesses of serious violence, including Asians. Some of the files still lie outside my previous supervisor’s office—untouched for almost two months after I left the team.

Asians are often expected to work hard, keep our heads down, and not speak out. Even in my office, when I repeatedly requested a fairer distribution of work and greater transparency in data, I was denied and told that I was “a victim of my own success.” Apparently, “Service,” “Hard work,” “Integrity,” and “Transparency” are just empty slogans used by the administration to sign their emails and memos. Four core values on the office logo that spell out a curse word that highlights their meaninglessness in our office.

DA Rosen’s retaliatory actions would make an employment litigator cringe. Retaliation against an award-winning Asian prosecutor who had dedicated more hours physically at the office and in court during the pandemic than DA Rosen or any other prosecutor. An Asian prosecutor whose hairstyle DA Rosen had once compared to a North Korean dictator’s. An Asian prosecutor who had dared to share his personal opinion on violence against Asians based on his background and experiences.

Why are Asian law enforcement voices necessary and important to stop hatred and violence against Asians? Because far too often, other voices minimize and rationalize injustices against us. San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin described the murderer of an 84-year-old Asian man as having “some sort of a temper tantrum.” Georgia Sheriff’s Captain Jay Baker described the murderer of six Asian women as having “a really bad day.”

Santa Clara County deserves a DA who will be a leader—not a bandwagoner—in speaking out against injustice to Asian Americans and others. A DA who will demand unwavering loyalty to the law and justice and not to himself. A DA who will prioritize public safety and not promote a culture of fear and retaliation. A DA who will respect free speech, say what he means, and mean what he says. Santa Clara County deserves a DA who will celebrate the rich diversity of our community and protect us—not for personal or political gain, but because it is the right thing to do.

Editor’s note: Daniel M. Chung is a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney, but clarifies to San Jose Inside that this article reflects his personal views. Opinions are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

26 Comments

  1. Sounds like Rosen has Watanabe disease. “THIS MY EVENT” is what whities like Rosen and Kathy Watanabe like to say.

  2. Egregious retaliation, workplace racism, and politics as usual. Not a good look for DA Rosen.

  3. My husband was killed over 12 years ago. The police are still trying to get the case to court. Rosen lied to our faces when I asked if he was going to run. He went after Carr and made the case political. My husband and my family deserve justice. And with Rosen in office it will never go to court. We need someone in office that will do what they are surposed to do. Prosecute the cases. He used my husband’s death as a stepping stone to get into office. He needs to be brought down and out of office. He doesn’t deserve to be there.

  4. I suffered very similar bullying and harassment over a four year period at the hands of Rosen and his minions. I was bullied over my age to the point where I became ill and had to leave the office. It’s disgusting what’s happening in that office. There’s racism and ageism, it’s abusive and wrong. Rosen is not progressive. He’s only about getting ahead.

  5. It used to be that political rot was an unfortunate byproduct of our justice system. Political expediency once played an ancillary role to the big concerns of a police chief or prosecutor, a role reluctantly accepted and definitely not for public consumption (lest the public lose confidence in both the justice system and its servants’ commitment to it). District attorneys (and sometimes, chiefs) elected to office were obliged to don their partisan hats come campaign time, but otherwise it served their purposes to keep the blinders on and partisanship at bay.

    Race politics changed all that, and once the pure-bred, full-time partisans in public office and the media recognized its potential for delivering to them the power they lacked and had long coveted, that of arrest and trial, the Lady of Justice was made to doff her blinders and put her color vision to work.

    Half-tard police chiefs, and we’ve had our share here, unable to recognize that the progressive knock they were answering was that of the destroyer and not the do-gooder, proudly embraced the modest calls for hiring and promotional changes, not realizing the calls would soon evolve into demands, unceasing demands that increased annually and exponentially, eventually influencing every decision and staining every page of their training manuals. They had, unknowingly, made a deal with the devil, and for their ignorance and greed the American public has had its police protection gutted, its courageous officers slandered, and seen what little enforcement that remains surrendered to the influence of race-crazed finger-pointers.

    Prosecutors like Jeff Rosen, dime-a-dozen posers whose public service is nothing more than a necessary byproduct of their political ambition, represent a type well-known to history, those willing to sell their loyalty to the highest bidder. He, like Sam Liccardo, are media creations, selected for their willingness to serve political ends, good government be damned. If called upon, Mr. Rosen would have rounded-up and prepped for prosecution any of “the usual suspects” the Biden White House wished targeted (just as the Justice Department has done with the usual suspects from January 6th).

    I don’t know anything about Mr. Chung, and I regret that he’s chosen an over-hyped, race-related issue on which to launch his campaign, but I do know that Santa Clara County residents deserve better than Jeff Rosen. We deserve a born-for-the-job prosecutor, one fundamentally incapable of intentionally failing the innocent, favoring the guilty, or engaging in political persecution.

  6. While I do not disagree with many of the comments made about the DA Rosen, his action to remove you was the right one. You’re OpEd, using your position as the centerpiece of your comments, tainted your ability to prosecute many of these cases. Your OpEd handed smarmy criminal defense lawyers (Am I being redundant?) one additional thing to throw against the wall.

  7. You broke clear office policy against using your official title when publishing an opinion piece. You also tainted your ability to fairly handle cases involving mental illness because you stated an explicit bias. You were appropriately punished for your unprofessional actions and violations of office policy, there was nothing “pretextual” about it. And, you aren’t fooling anyone because if you thought you had a real retaliation case against the DA’s office, you Woolf have filed a claim, instead of writing this unprofessional editorial in third-rate local news outlet. There are several successful and prominent Asian-American attorneys who work in your office—I have personally met some of them. None of them would have ever so flagrantly violate office policy, and then tried to claim retaliation for being punished for their offenses.

  8. I would be the first to admit that I am a skeptic; however, is it just possible that the talented Mr. Chang is setting himself up for a run at DA?

  9. Stand up for your right, dear DDA Chung. You have a right to express your opinion. Declaring your work title is an important part of convincing the reader why your opinion should be given a consideration. As a Santa Clara County Commissioner, I was trained not to speak for the Councils that I served on, but was always told that I had every right to express my opinion publicly and declare my title as a Commissioner. In fact, the Child Abuse Prevention Council clarified this issue once through County Council and we were told that it is absolutely fine to state our title. DA Jeff Rosen can’t create his own policy and especially when it contradicts the county’s policy. The problem with Rosen is he has too many soldiers without a conscience that follow his criminal orders. No one is above the law. Sooner or later all the people that Rosen retaliated and continues to retaliate against will rise up and bring him and his evil followers to accountability. Rosen and all his executives who manipulated time sheets years ago should have been prosecuted for fraud and removed from that office. Evil persists only when good men do nothing! Stay strong. Stay brave. You have rights that the county must protect against this group of thugs who are using and abusing the most powerful law enforcement office in the county.

  10. Thank you DDA Daniel M. Chung for having the courage to call out our District Attorney for his “Bad Behavior” and common practice of retaliation against anyone that challenges his poor leadership skills.

    Sounds like Jeffrey Francis Frozen Rosen is really getting “Butt Hurt” and now he is going into full retaliation mode. Normally that BIG “Little” cry baby only goes after activists just for speaking up at Government Meetings in our County. Now he is going after his own Staff!!!! Wooooooow….. No one is safe now….

    I only hope that our other Elected officials stand by DDA Chung and prevent the “Life Wrecking” retaliation that is coming his direction at the hands of our incompetent District Attorney.

    Vote Daniel M. Chung for District Attorney 😊

  11. Oh….. and the comment about Mr. Chung looking like a North Korean Dictator is right out of Jeff’s play book…. Remember when Ole Jeffrey though he was a comedian and made fun of a Handicap Lawyer from his office during the “State of the DA Office” ceremony…. yep…..it really happened folks….. He even called the disabled attorney “Dan Peglegian” and held up his Prosthetic Leg and cracked a really bad joke??? WTF!!!

    SEE YOUTUBE VIDEO BELOW

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rizy3kkLz9w

  12. This has been the pattern and practice of Jeff Rosen’s political career for the past 15 years. In the DAO he aligned himself with DDA Sininu Towery and created this culture. His willingness to retaliate was evidenced early into his elected office with Jim Sibley, the prosecutor who had an autistic son. Rosen just reassigned him to make his commute, and life, hell. Rosen has used James Gibbons Shapiro, Kasey Halcon, David Angel , Sean Webby , Stacey Capps, Allison Filo, Luis Ramos, Terry Harman, DDA Kinerci and countless others to support a corrupt , racist and evil career as a prosecutor.

    Rosen has spent 10 years failing crime victims, retaliating against journalists who report negatively on him, and chilling speech of anyone who speaks out against him. Note 2020 Whistleblower complaint against Muslim prosecutor Sajid Kahn.

    This is not a progressive prosecutor. This is a prosecutor willing to rig elections, withhold exculpatory evidence, and protect cops who lie to get him convictions and plea deals in a rigged an broken system. He is a prosecutor who will go down as the worst boss and most cruel person in Santa Clara County.

    Reporters, editors and publishers need to hold public officials such as Jeff Rosen accountable. That means asking why:
    (1) He let rapists go while claiming to be supportive of victims of sexual assault. – Sharwin Bobian
    (2) He didn’t follow up on campaign promises and press releases ( still no victims app and Prop 84 cases still not expunged)
    (3) in a 12 year career he only prosecuted the cops who killed Michael Tyree in the jail, and not every other cop who beat, harmed or killed countless others.
    (4) He had ONE public corruption case, letting off all the others who clearly protect him.
    (5) He has ignored and dismissed serious felony crimes that benefit his political supporters and himself while maliciously prosecuting the poor, uneducated, and people who can not defend against his evil and bad faith tactics.
    (6) He used wealthy victims from WomenSV, in Los Altos to lobby to keep him in office.

    Jeff Rosen is not a progressive prosecutor. He is a bully. A mean spirited human being who does not deserve to be re- elected, but rather indicted for the serious public harm he has done to this county. Thank you to the brave DAO employee who finally spoke up and to the publisher of the San Jose Inside for paying for the ink so he could do so.

  13. It is clear that Jeff Rosen does not care about Asian lives more than he cares about politics and running for office. He has a passionate prosecutor in his office who wants to do more to help the Asian community and instead is put back to the end of the line for speaking out. This Jeff Rosen should be voted out. He is on the side of criminals and want to keep the status quo and not punish these violent racists anti-asian haters.

  14. Not only is Jeff Rosen on the side of criminals, he is on the side of organized crime that consists of a crime ring in within the County of Santa Clara, particularly within the Social Services Agency. I should know, because I served as a Management Analyst in the Social Services Agency. At age 64 I was fired in the middle of a pandemic, as not only was I fired for being an older worker but also because for years I served as a whistleblower against the corruption perpetrated by the Menicocci/Ramoni crime syndicate under County Boss Jeff Smith. I am talking about documented evidence of perjury, bribery, extortion, criminal conspiracy and misuse of Federal, State, and County public funds, including MediCal. I presented my evidence to County leaders, including Jeff Rosen and the County Board of Supervisors and none of them gave a damn. Deputy District Attorney John Chase replied that although Ramoni’s sworn testimony could be construed as deceptive and obstructive, he did not feel like prosecuting prosecuting a perjury case. You taxpayers are being ripped off, and so are County workers and the public welfare. Both Jeff Rosen and Jeff Smith need to be prosecuted, as both I provided both with my documented evidence. But sadly the North Korean parliament, I mean our County Board of Supervisors, including Supervisor Cindy Chavez, love Jeff Smith and Robert Menicocci. Sadly their addiction to corruption is best described by Board President Mike Wasserman, when he admitted, when challenged in December, 2016, that the Supervisors love corruption. And why has their never been any news story on Steve Fondacaro, who directs public safety within Central Services at Menicocci’s Social Services Agency, who recklessly took a vehicle in a parking lot and violently backed over a Social Services Agency client on March 15, 2019. I have not injured or nearly killed anyone, yet Fondacaro still has a job and I don’t. But in Fondacaro’s and Menicocci’s case, I guess poor lives don’t matter. What a fake progressive County. I support Daniel M. Chung.

  15. I missed Mr Chung’s Op Ed on February 14, so I checked it out after reading the more recent posting. Context is important. Did Mr Chung assail the character of the DA? Was this the real reason for the reassignments and disciplinary measures the Mr Chung complains about. No! The DA wasn’t even mentioned snd there was no veiled attempt to disparage him. Mr Chung has been retaliated against for simply exercising his 1st Amendment rights. Shame on the DA. He, of all people should know better. Instead of safeguarding the rights of others, he is trampling all over the 1st Amendment and using the power of his office to do so.

  16. All I can say is wow. How arrogant of this DA Chung to state “award-winning Asian prosecutor who had dedicated more hours physically at the office and in court during the pandemic than DA Rosen or any other prosecutor.” “Any other prosecutor”, hmmm interesting, so I take DA Chung’s fellow prosecutors who I am sure handle other cases which are more serious (homicides, etc.) do not dedicate more hours to their job than someone like himself. If that isn’t a demonstration of clear narcissistic behavior I do not know what one is. There may be an issue in his office who knows, but this is not the way to handle it. Seems like Mr. Chung is the one failing his victims here if he feels Juvi and mental health court are not as important. Shame on you, maybe you should open up your own practice or do Pro Bono work in your community.

  17. Mr. Chung is too enamored with himself to realize he has proven, through this op-ed, to be his own worst enemy.

  18. Mr. Chung is too enamored with himself to realize that he has, through this op-ed piece, become his own worst enemy.

  19. For vindictive retaliation incidents, SCC district attorney Jeff Rosen is a habitual offender. A three-striker. This is why he needs to be recalled. Visit the Recall Rosen webpage for a catalog of his misdeeds over the years. Reading the list is unsettling in the sense of “How does a DA who makes over $400,000 per year get away with this?!?” https://www.recallrosen.org/

  20. Unfortunately this poor prosecutor and his experience is all too accurate these days. If feels that so many of these California progressive DAs are vying to move up the political ladder. They throw healthy moderate liberalism to the wind–inclusion, respecting diversity, being apolitical about criminal justice–and hitch hike on whatever slogan is popular. Want to know what is going to get the far right mobilized more than anything? People in power neglecting the victims they swore to protect because they are afraid to cross the political line.

  21. Of course Asian hate crimes follow China threat boosting in the US media. That was toned down in many media outlets but China threat boosting is still present and it spreads to all Asians. Three months ago a simple one day search for China resulted in 40 articles. Super soldiers, biological weapons, and assorted nefarious plots. This was pumped out every-single-day from cadres of security and defense reporters and were carried on the feeds of ABC, NBS, even the Guardian.

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