Santa Clara DA Candidates Start Their Engines

Santa Clara County’s four district attorney candidates have all vowed to play nice this campaign season, but one can only wonder if the smiles and good-natured handshakes will last through the June primary.

Marc Buller, Dolores Carr, James Shore and Karyn Sinunu all looked mighty spiffy — albeit slightly nervous — at Monday night’s public forum at the Billy DeFrank Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in San Jose.

It was the first public forum of the year and the conversation ranged from capital punishment to hate crimes.

But the most telling moments of the evening weren’t so much the questions and answers, but rather the eye-rolling and sideward glances a few of the candidates displayed throughout the evening. (Too bad this wasn’t a debate!)

One hot-button issue that seemed to keep popping up all night was the current San Jose Mercury News series that is critical of the county’s criminal justice system.

The newspaper’s three-year investigative report has been the talk of the South Bay legal community since it started running Sunday, and DA candidates were quick to pounce.

But there were obviously two sides to this issue.

Carr, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, and Shore, a deputy DA, were quick to blast the DA’s office and the alleged prosecutorial misconduct alleged in the newspapers’ series. (In fact, Shore is calling for the state attorney general’s office to investigate the claims.)

Buller, an assistant DA, was quick to rebut charges that the office has a win-at-all-costs mentality. And Sinunu, the chief assistant DA and retiring DA George Kennedy’s hand-picked successor, used her five-minute opening talk to discuss all the good things she’s done for the gay community.

But in an earlier phone interview Monday, Sinunu called the newspaper’s report “an important story,? noting that it was “pretty thorough? and for the most part accurate.

“We were part of the project from the beginning,? Sinunu told The Recorder. “We believed in the project.?

— Julie O’Shea

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