Dennis L. “Pinky” Stout got the message

Today I am announcing my decision not to seek the Office of District Attorney of San Bernardino County.

From a very early age all I dreamed about was being a public prosecutor.  After 17 years as a Deputy District Attorney, I realized my ultimate dream in 1994 when I was elected District Attorney.  I ran unopposed in 1998 and was reelected to a second term. During those eight years we accomplished a complete rebuild of the office from the ground up. We implemented over 50 new programs.

We positioned the office so that it could become the best prosecutorial agency in the state.

The one thing that was always foremost in my mind was that the District Attorney is a professional prosecutor and not a professional politician.  I believed then and I believe even more so now that there is no place for politics in a district attorney’s office.  The major reason I considered another run for office is my belief that the current incumbent has violated every principle that I consider important for a public prosecutor.   He has used the power of his office to gain political advantage.  I believe that once an election is over the politics stop.

Politics should never be the motivation for a prosecution.

The recent corruption prosecutions are a case in point.  I am not going to address the merits of the cases at this point but I do have some strong opinions about how they have been handled.  If there was wrongdoing then I am concerned that it will go unpunished because of the political methods that have been used.  By that I mean the unending theatrics and repeated arrests of the same defendants while ignoring the conduct of those who have engaged in identical behavior.  There is an obvious appearance of conflict between the District Attorney and the defendants.  The District Attorney at one point was communicating with one of the defendants and giving him legal advice. The District Attorney posted on his campaign website a letter disparaging one of the defendants.

If it turns out that the defendants are not guilty of any criminal wrong doing then the question about motivation of the District Attorney changes from one of just political exploitation of the system to something much more sinister.  Under the federal law it is a malfeasance under color of law.  We are all familiar with Michael Nifong who used his prosecutorial office to file charges against three Duke La Crosse players hoping to obtain votes from a particular community.  He was eventually exposed for what he was and is now no longer in a position to abuse his office.

I came to the realization that in order to defeat an incumbent who virtually eats, sleeps and breathes politics that I would have to become more like him.  It is simply something that I cannot do.  I can’t threaten the contributors of my opponents with criminal investigations like the incumbent did recently in a local news story.  I can’t arrest people who are presumed to be innocent under our laws, who are not a flight risk or a continuing danger to society just so that I can get a headline on the front page.  I can’t hide information from the public that is their right to see because it makes me look bad. I can’t take money from the good ole boys club that controls the majority of our elected officials.

I simply can’t do it.

I am going to continue to watch what goes on in our county, and if I feel the urge, I will continue to exercise my first amendment right.

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