Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Second chances vs. public confidence

This time with a controversial new hire. An anonymous poster brought my attention to it yesterday, and Rose has the details including all of the links I came up with and more.

His name is Alan L. Dollison. He has a history of State Bar discipline in which his license was suspended for acts of dishonesty attributed to depression. He runs for office. And he has a distinguished military record which took place after his suspension (a penance maybe?).

Obviously if you hate Gallegos with the passion of some of his fan club around here, you're going to seize on this as just another example of his propensity for corruption. Dollison didn't just miss deadlines, he lied to a client even to the point of forging documents that he claimed he'd filed with the court. This is not a minor transgression. You might also seize upon it for the argument that nobody of value wants to work here so Gallegos is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

If you a Gallegos supporter you probably already believe in second chances, and you'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is convinced that Dollison is reformed with depression in check, and that his subsequent record of public service in and out of the military mitigates his earlier actions.

I lean toward the latter view, but I do find the anonymous poster's argument compelling - namely that a second chance might warrant a return to private practice but not a position with law enforcement requiring not only honesty and integrity; but also the impression of honesty and integrity so as have the confidence of law enforcement, the community, and especially the jury pool. I do wish that this argument can be made without the slash-and-burn personal attacks, which wouldn't be present but for the rather impulsive anger directed against Gallegos. Blame Gallegos for what you believe to be another grievous error in judgment, propensity towards corruption, or however you need to frame it. But don't presume to know whether this individual has reformed or that you can judge his character as it is today.

The above photo of Dollison was taken from here.

The "distinguished military record" was taken from his campaign literature, not military records. In other words His version, the guy that forged legal documents! Cheated his clients.

I'm sure there was a big call for an artillery officer during the LA riots. I must have missed all the artillery strikes on 77th street.

All this aside. Give the guy a second chance, OK. But not as a prosecutor. If Mr. Dollison did what the state bar says he did (and I'm sure he did), then he is not deserving or qualified (morally) to be a prosecutor.

Unfortunately Paul DOES have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, bright hardworker prosecutors just don't seem to be attracted to the Humboldt DA's office anymore. WOW that's a surprise. This is an act of desperation and extreme poor judgement on Paul Gallegos' part.

Another loser defense attorney with Grand Political Ambition taking his place on the public gravy train.
Good points, and you managed to do it without really attacking Dollison. Rose has a few of the links about his military service which I provided somewhere below, and you can find more on Google, including articles he wrote for military journals. Perhaps "distinguished" may be a point of dispute, but there's no doubt that he took his job seriously and I think it's a fairly safe bet that he rejoined the military to work on himself and make amends. Whether he succeeded, well, I guess we'll find out.

Not to justify what he did, but I can tell you that the practice of law can be extremely stressful when things go wrong. I don't quite know how to describe the feeling you get when you believe you've really blown it - either missing a statute of limitations because something didn't get calendared, or making an argument that ends up hurting your case and costing your client thousands. Most often, the problems are fixable, but the feeling is the same, almost physical, with adrenalyn and all. I never had that feeling before I practiced law and thankfully the occurrences have been far and few. And fortunately I don't suffer from depression. A string of those occurrences in a short period of time because you left law school and hung up your own shingle without really knowing what you were getting into could make a very bad combination with depression. Attorneys are higher than average in alcohol and other substance abuse. It's not easy money, and it's actually worse if you care. There are so many pitfalls, and so many ways to screw up - even if you're seasoned and with a full experienced staff.

I don't condone what he did, but I can empathize with the pain and desperation he must have felt at a critical moment.

He did cross a line however, and Gallegos is taking a huge chance here. And if the office is as chaotic as some around here claim, the danger of a repeat performance may be a bit higher than if he was in a private practice where he can control his workload. There is a difference however in that now he is part of a large team. I hope it works out.
Gallegos is not taking a "huge chance"...he is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

If you really believe this Eric, this is why people hate lawyers...they rarely police themselves...you have to be really, really bad just to get suspended and then lawyers do everything warped and bizarre to justify bringing you back into the fold..

Sorry...this choice by Paul is reflective of his desparation...and it is truly pathetic.
You do have to be really bad to get suspended, and falsifying documents to your own client is certainly "really bad." There's no reasonable minimizing of what he most likely did.
How long ago was the misconduct? It sounds like it could easily be 20 or more, and if so I don't know how much difference it makes. Generally speaking the passage of a long time between misconduct and the present argues for reform, and if the Bar allows him to be a lawyer, why shouldn't he be a DA? Perhaps that's the issue really. If the Bar, which is the agency that disiplined him in the first place, has accepted him as suitable, what do we know that they don't?
It had to be 1999 or before because he went into the military in 1999 - I think. The disciplinary proceedings were in 2000.
God guys...you don't get it. So what if the "bar" lets him practice. His lack of judgment and his offenses should preclude him from carrying a badge and representing Humboldt County. Let him write a will or trust or something.

And Ed....you could have just looked him up on the state bar without trying to spin this as being 20 years old. Gosh, even I can do that.
make that "20 or more years ago" and it will make more sense. See prior comment.
Well we have confirmed that ED is an idiot. And I can see why he is sensitive to State Bar Assn. disicpline.

And Eric, if a cop was caught forging legal documents 6 years ago, lied under oath, then joined the army (BECAUSE HE NEEDED A JOB), would you be so forgiving and understanding ? Don't bother with some half assed answer..... the answer is NO you would not.

Who was it Henry the VIII, that had that great idea ?
Question, Eric. Would you hire him to work in your law firm? And if I came to you as a client, would you assign him to my case? And if you did, would you warn me about his past? And if you did, why should I feel secure with him or you? And if you didn't, well... anyway, just curious. Because I wouldn't.

And I don't understand why the Bar would allow him to practice law, much less let him be a prosecutor.
It couldn't have been 20 or more years ago. He was first admitted to the Bar in 1995. It looks from the Bar Journal write up that the offenses took place within the first few years of his career. He was punished in 2000.
Hey, at least Dollison is bar certified and actually can call himself an attorney. Unlike David Cobb.
Unlike David Cobb

How many times does that have to be debunked before you give it up?

Question, Eric. Would you hire him to work in your law firm? And if I came to you as a client, would you assign him to my case? And if you did, would you warn me about his past? And if you did, why should I feel secure with him or you? And if you didn't, well... anyway, just curious. Because I wouldn't.

Good questions. The answer to the first question is probably not, unless I saw some very unusual quality and was thoroughly convinced of his reformation. I have no idea what he would have to do to convince me of that. And would inform any clients and for the first few years anyway he would be under very close supervision. Like I said, he'd have to be something very special, and I would obviously only assign him to clients who are very understanding and share my view of him.

And the more I think about it, the more is sounds like it would be a pain in the ass. If there was strong competition for the job, I would probably opt for someone else.

But Rose, it's all speculative. I've never met the gentleman. I've never heard his story. Other than a few internet pages, I don't know anything about him. I don't understand the Bar's position either. But obviously they were convinced. You've seen the record. He is actively licensed.
Ok, the guy has a crummy record.
Ok, several recent hires have issues (probation, no prosecution experience).

So what.

The old guard is gone. Judge the
new office on its record. Check plea bargains, sentences, trial performance, etc. If the job measures up, fine. If not, well,
that's for the next election.
You can't put that guy in court and have any judge believe him or any jury believe him. His record has to be beyond reproach because of the job he was hired at and frankly that is impossible.

Let me tell you, I have always considered myself fair, but I would have to say that this DA's office would not want me on a jury because I see them as dishonest and incompetent. Every last one of them!
Every last one of them?

That's quite a statement. Question is, will you admit this in voir dire?
Eric - yes every last one of them.

and yes, not only would I admit it, I would be damn adamant about it and all the reasons why. I don't like to be lied to, I don't like the fact that there is a prosecutor who had been found by the bar to have forged and lied and I am pretty adamant about it.

Why would you think that anyone who really felt this way would NOT admit it? Actually, the thought of that never crossed my mind as I have no agenda other than to tell it like I see it.

And it is quite a statement. It is because my respect for the law no longer exists with this DA or any of his staff who have shown to be either dishonest, incompetent or too damn scared to keep their jobs that they will bend every damn rule and law in order to keep their jobs.

Mind you I do respect the law, not the DA or his crew and it is because of his actions and his hires.
Potential jurors often don't like getting bumped, and don't admit to biases even when asked. But often they come out after the trial, when it's too late.

Anyway, I've met some very fine people in that office, Paul included. I just wondered if you'd met them all.
Unlike David Cobb

How many times does that have to be debunked before you give it up?

David Cobb is no longer an attorney. Consult the ABA yourself, you are not allowed to call yourself a lawyer if you have no current bar certification. "Retired attorney" maybe but that's it.
Actually, most jurors I know want to get bumped...never met one yet that looked forward to jury duty except the retired, the teachers or other county workers that get paid for it.

Met Paul and wasn't impressed. Am tired of all the empty rhetoric and I don't agree with your assessment of him or the people in his office. (oh yeah, have seen enough for me to make an informed choice.

Jeff Schwartz is dangerously lazy and I have been to court to see most of them over lately. Definitely not impressed with the plea bargaining, the dismissals and the rest of the shenanagins. As I said before, respected that office before but not now and will be proud to express in detail every reason to the judge if called.
There are about 18 or 19 attorneys on staff. You've met each of them? 2 or 3 of them were Farmer hires.

Most jury pool members do want to get out of it, but a few relish the idea for various reasons - including unfortunately a chip on the shoulder about something.
Eric - you need to work on your math. There are 9 attorneys exluding the Assistant District Attorney and the District Attorney. Just call the number in the book and ask for them to list names. This number includes 3 new ones this last month...
There's a new article in the TS about the new DDA. The Bar disipline was 8 years ago, which is closer than would be comfortable for defending him. But, he is a current member of the California Bar, so they're ok with him, he was an assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. protectorate near Guam, and just prior to being hired for the dark side he was chief public defender in Almanor county. Presumably these two jurisdictions did a background check on him, and satisifed themselves that he was ok. He's been working in law for years after the disipline with nothing new cropping up. Paul has checked him also, so he's been vetted three times in addition to the Bar's review of his conduct. I say give him a chance. I know its a nice stick to try and beat Paul with, but that doesn't seem fair to Dollison. I haven't actually encountered the man in court yet since I've been abroad these last few weeks. If upon personal contact I form a different opinion I'll let you know.
Yeah, the anti-Gallegos brigade does seem to be jumping the gun a bit - except that the nature of the ethical violations on their face are very disturbing.
Hey ED ? How do you know Paul has checked him out ? You've been away on vacation! Are you lying or has Paul been discussing confidential personnel issues/matters with you, a private defense attorney that specializes in drug cases ? Which is it ? Sounds pretty unethical to me, on both your parts! Of course I'm not shocked by that kind of conduct.

Another issue is why did Mr. Dollison come to Humboldt County ? Any past here ? NO. If this guy was so great why not stay in Amador defending people. The absolute last thing the Humboldt DA's office needs is another defense attorney.
How do you know Paul has checked him out ?

Well, that's pretty standard procedure for a DA deputy hire, wouldn't you think?

Your last paragraph is funny. On the one hand you claim that Gallegos can't attract quality candidates from outside Humboldt County. Then when he attracts one (ostensibly) you suspect something because he decided to move. Frankly, I would much rather live in Humboldt than Amadaore.
Standard procedure for a sitting DA would not be to discuss personnel issues with defense attorneys, especially one with ED's reputation.

And Eric are you telling me Gallegos CAN attract quality cadidates ? Name ONE, just one !

Tim Stoen? WRONG

Jeff Swartz? WROMG

Arnie La La WRONG

Alan Dollison WRONG

I'm not going to list the ones (3) Gag's hired and they "resigned". Or the fact that one of them has since been arrested for something like impersonating an officer ?
Actually, anon 6:48, you should be an attorney. You're correct in that my statement that Paul checked Dollison out is a presumption, not a known fact. I was eliding from the prior sentence construction. I have no way of knowing for sure that he did, or even that he claims he did. Anon 1:05pm is correct too, and I appreciate the compliment. And it does seem odd to me to be defending a prosecutor, especially one I have not met, but I spent all those days talking with the Chinese about fairness, due process, and presumption of innocence and I just can't get it out of my head.

I was out of the country, as 6:48 noted. Soon as I go Dikeman gets fired, and Vroman dies. I have come back to a totally different legal landscape from the one I left. What it all means for defense attorneys doing marijuana and DUIs on the North Coast I'll find out soon.

Anyone got any clue what is going on in the Mendocino DA's race? Is Faulder's case valid, must they hold a special election? I sort of see what will happen if Vroman wins, but not if he loses.
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