Monday, March 17, 2014

#InTheNews: Fourteen prosecutors added in San Bernardino County

Fourteen new prosecutors have been hired to work for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. From Left to Right: Leonard Chang, Thomas Perkins, Cassandra Helmuth, Alicia Marrujo, Philip Stemler, Angela Gerovac, Julius Abanise, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith, District Attorney Michael Ramos, Justin Crocker, Rebecca Goodrich, Evan Acker, Nasim Razmara, Kevin Christensen, Shannon Wainwright, and Colin Child.

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For the first time in years, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has added prosecutors to its team.

Fourteen attorneys have been hired in the past four months — a number that will help ease attorney case loads and better serve the community, officials said.

“This will be a tremendous help,” District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said. “For the office, it’s a morale booster to have this fresh energy. It gets us all motivated again.”

When they first put out the announcement last year, more than 600 people applied, Ramos said. They eventually whittled that down to the 14 new hires.

“These lawyers we hired are just amazing,” Ramos said.

But this hiring move is focused on replacement, not addition. The new hires are meant to fill vacancies created by other attorneys who retired, became a judge, or left the office. The department is still far from previous staffing levels, Ramos said.

It’s been years since fresh faces have been brought in to the District Attorney’s office and the recent hiring has garnered optimism among the current staff.

“It allows us to serve the community a lot better,” said Bruce Brown, chief deputy district attorney based in Victorville. “Even though we had a cutback in staff, specifically in prosecutors, there has not been a cutback in crimes. In fact, there has probably been a little bit of an upward tick.”

The new attorneys came in to San Bernardino County knowing it was a busy district.

“Yes there’s a large case load,” said Cassandra Helmuth. “But I think the cases are very interesting.”

“The case load may be large but there’s always something going on and it keeps you on your toes. I like staying busy.”

Helmuth, who is currently based in the West Valley Superior Courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga, went to UC Santa Barbara for undergraduate school and the University of San Diego for law school.

The 29-year-old, originally from the Beaumont area, said she always found criminal law interesting.

“I think the work is fulfilling and it’s a job that matters,” Helmuth said. “As soon as I started interning I loved being in the courtroom.”

Colin Child, another new hire, said he wanted to be a prosecutor since he was a freshman in college.
The 28-year-old San Bernardino resident was a criminal justice major at Sacramento State University before he attended McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

He said he originally intended to work for the FBI, but that changed when he heard a Sacramento County prosecutor speak.

“He spoke with us at length about the office and the cases he tried, some of the impacts his cases had on victims of crime,” Child said. “My jaw was on the floor, I was just very impressed with him. That was kind of my epiphany.”

Child said he came back to Southern California after law school because there were no job prospects in Sacramento.

Child said he was overwhelmed at first by the case load in San Bernardino County.
“But once you start doing the cases, learning the ropes, it gets a lot easier. You learn to manage it,” he said.

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