Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Safety Reminder

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – As citizens from our county join football fans from all across the country to gather and watch the Super Bowl XLVIII football game, on Sunday, February 2, 2014, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office would like to remind everybody to drink responsibly and designate a sober driver.

Whether you are watching the game at a sports bar or hosting a party, please take the necessary steps to make sure this weekend is a safe one for everybody on the road. If you see a drunk driver on the road, please pull over and call 911.

Quick Facts
    • Last year, during Super Bowl weekend, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office filed 187 DUI-related cases across the county.
    • Of this amount, 6 involved serious injury.
    • In 2013, 7,337 DUI-related cases were filed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
    • Of this amount, 269 cases involved death or serious injury.
    • According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2012, across the nation, alcohol-impaired driving crashes took 10,322 lives and Californians witnessed 802 deaths in DUI crashes
“If you plan on watching the big game this weekend away from home, and plan on driving, one of the safest ways to get home is to designate a sober driver in advance before you start drinking. I have seen far too many cases in my 25-year career as a prosecutor that either ended with someone severely injured or killed because of drunk driving," District Attorney Michael Ramos said.

"While drinking and driving can easily result in tragedy, it can also be costly to the impaired driver who gets arrested and charged by our office. By the time you pay bail, fines, fees and insurance, a typical DUI can cost upward to $10,000. Any way you look at it, it’s just not worth it. Please drink responsibly this weekend for your sake and the sake of others on the road. Let’s make it a ‘super’ weekend for San Bernardino County."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DA Point of View: District Attorney Michael Ramos reflects on the fight against Human Trafficking and the heroes in our community

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a local shelter for homeless youth who have either run away or been thrown out of their homes. Through unclaimed restitution monies, we were able to donate $15,000 to assist their efforts. We had the chance to tour the location and see and hear firsthand all the great work that Executive Director Darryl Evey and his staff are doing to reconnect children with their families and assist our youth in general. Over the course of the last few months, I have learned more about Darryl’s passion for our youth and how is seeking to better assist those minors who have been sexually exploited.

When we created the Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) in 2009, I always said that it would take a community to address the problems associated with the exploitation of our children, and since that time, several government agencies, non-profits and faith-based organizations have taken significant action in this area.

There really are so many heroes in our community fighting this fight—people like Peggy Stapleton who met with me in my office a few years back and told me about her plan to end human trafficking in San Bernardino County. Since that time, she has formed Christians Actively Demolishing Exploitation (CADE) and they are taking significant steps to not only educate our community but working to secure safe housing for exploited youth.
Other names that surface are Pastor Paula Daniels and Anne Michelle Ellis, who both appeared in our documentary on human trafficking. Pastor Paula is the founder of Rachel’s House, a home for exploited women. She is currently working to open a Drop-in and Resource Center on Baseline Avenue in San Bernardino, where sexually exploited girls can meet with staff without the interference from their pimp. Whether it’s offering spiritual guidance or just being able to provide a place to relax, her goal is focused on leading these young girls back onto the right “track.”

Go to any outreach meeting in the community and you’ll see Anne-Michelle Ellis standing at the CASE information table or sitting on the panel or mingling in the crowd. Just last week we were honored to have her appear on the panel for a screening of Teenage $ex 4 $ale at the Southwest Conference Against Trafficking. Anne Michelle’s passion, expertise and voice has made a mark on our community, much like Lesford Duncan, whose youth and vibrant personality is an inspiration. When you talk to him, you get the strong sense of a young man who is committed and passionate about helping community, and I look forward to the great work he is bringing to our community through The Mary Magdalene Project.

My list of heroes fighting this fight is so long, and I couldn’t even begin to name them all, but there is one more, one that initially sparked this writing.

Yesterday while we were visiting the shelter, Darry Evey mentioned that Ashley Furniture had donated several items to their home. This was the same Ashley Furniture that had donated all the beds and couches and tables and just about all the furnishings for Rachel’s House. There was a subtle connection there, and it was nice to see that our local businesses were doing their part as well to make a difference in the lives of our exploited youth.

In the last five years, we have come a long way in this area, and we have made several connections and changes and commitments that I suspect will have a lasting impact throughout our community. As we move forward, one thing is certain—and I’ll steal a phrase from Peggy Stapleton’s mission statement—“Together we are better.”

-- District Attorney Michael Ramos


Thursday, January 16, 2014

POINT OF VIEW: Deputy District Attorney J. Crocker Recounts First Jury Trial

Shortly after being sworn in by District Attorney Michael Ramos, Deputy District Attorney J. Crocker (pictured above) was assigned his first jury trial.
Three Hours of Deliberation
by Deputy District Attorney J. Crocker

The Defendant, Sunday Atkins, was pulled over at 2 a.m. on Sept 29, 2013, for expired registration tags. The officer smelled alcohol on her breath and her eyes were bloodshot and watery. She initially told the Deputy that she had not taken any of her prescription medications and had only one drink.

She later admitted that she had taken four different prescription medications 12 hours earlier but insisted she only had one drink. Ms. Atkins stumbled during the FST’s a couple times, and had trouble following the officer’s directions. She refused to take the preliminary breath test at the scene and the blood test back at the jail.

Our offer to her was a WET Reckless with a minimum fine and no jail time. She refused to accept the offer or to waive time, and her attorney said the most they would accept was a speeding ticket. Due to the time running out we started jury selection on Christmas Eve.

The Defendant took the stand and testified on direct that she refused the tests because she didn’t trust the officer and that she knew she was ok to drive because she had a high tolerance. On cross I asked her how many drinks she would have to drink before she wouldn’t be ok to drive and she said, “Eight drinks.”

The jury came back with a guilty verdict after 3 hours of deliberation and also found the enhancement for refusing the chemical test to be true. Ms. Atkins was sentenced on New Year’s Eve to 45 days county jail, straight time, and was remanded into custody to begin serving her sentence.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

State Prison Commitments: December 2013

For the month of December 2013, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office obtained 286 state prison commitments for a total of 15,626 total months. The following is a breakdown by division:

Fontana: 54 state prison commitments for a total of 2,302 months.

Morongo: 4 state prison commitments for a total of 104 months.

Rancho Cucamonga: 62 state prison commitments for a total of 3,320 months.

San Bernardino: 87 state prison commitments for a total of 4,924 months.

Victorville: 79 state prison commitments for a total of 4,690 months.