When Chesa Boudin took office earlier this year as San Francisco’s new DA, he immediately went about firing a slew of prosecutors whom he felt didn’t quite align with his progressive, anti-incarceration agenda.
Among them: gang unit managing attorney Ana Gonzalez and her counterpart in general felonies, Linda Allen. The latter was reportedly axed in part because the California Court of Appeals overturned her 2007 conviction of Jamal Truelove for murder after finding fault with some of her assertions in the case.
In 2019, the city of San Francisco paid $13.1 million to Trulove after a jury found that a couple of cops fabricated evidence and failed to disclose exculpatory material.
The new hires didn’t sit well with inmate advocates at Silicon Valley De-Bug, a social justice nonprofit that sees more eye-to-eye with Boudin than the local DA. “It’s a horrible disservice to justice and our community that Santa Clara County becomes a repository for disgraced prosecutors,” De-Bug founder Raj Jayadev told Fly, echoing criticism expressed by a number of criminal defense attorneys as well.
Truelove’s story illustrates the “horrors of a prosecutor obsessed with conviction rather than justice,” he said. Plus, San Francisco literally paid a fortune for the wrongful prosecution. “Santa Clara County can’t afford to pay a prosecutor millions of dollars to cage innocent people,” Jayadev said.
Rosen spokesman Sean Webby defended the integrity of the two S.F. hires.
“We carefully looked at this [Truelove] case,” he said. “It concerned us. We spoke with judges and prosecutors who have closely worked with Ms. Allen. The DA spoke directly with DA Chesa Boudin. We decided to hire her because we feel confident that Ms. Allen will bring her depth of experience and excellence to our team and will protect the people using the highest ethical values. And we believe in second chances.”
Eric Fleming, a San Francisco Superior Court judge who worked for years with Allen in felony court, affirmed the sentiment, saying Allen’s firing probably had more to do with Boudin’s own vision than her professional record.
“I don’t know if these prosecutors weren’t as progressive as he wanted,” he said. “But I do know all of the prosecutors that they fired and all of them are excellent.”
In a phone call from home, where she’s recovering from an ankle surgery, Sharon Woo—the chief assistant DA to Boundin’s predecessor, George Gascon—had nothing but praise for Gonazalez and Allen.
“I think it was a loss, really, for San Francisco to have that quality of individuals leave the office with that much experience,” she said. “And they are, they really carry excellent judgment and discretion and they have handled the most serious cases.”
If she did anything wrong, Woo quipped, she would not want either of those two to prosecute her. “Because,” she said, “I know they will be thorough and they will be tough.”