In what promises to be an exceptionally bruising campaign for District Attorney, the Santa Barbara City Police Officers Association officially announced it was endorsing Joyce Dudley for the post of the county’s top cop. Union chief Mike McGrew explained that Dudley, who has long specialized in sex abuse cases, was motivated by concern for the victim, not so much garnering an impressive won-loss record. “She’s willing to take on the hard cases where victory is hardly certain,” said McGrew. In addition, McGrew said Dudley has been active in a host of community organizations, and that she’ll bring a broader perspective to the District Attorney’s post than that of “a king in [her] castle.”
Dudley, a career prosecutor, jumped into the race when it became clear that her boss — elected District Attorney Christie Stanley — was too sick with cancer to do the job she was elected to let alone run for reelection. Stanley did not appreciate the move, and retaliated by taking away a couple of high profile cases from Dudley. When the office’s chief trial deputy, Josh Lynn, announced he would challenge Dudley, Christie quickly threw her support behind Lynn — appointing him to run the office in her stead — as did Christie’s predecessor Tom Sneddon. Handicappers in the legal community are sizing the race up as a showdown between the department old-timers — who largely are backing Dudley — and the up-and-comers — who are backing Lynn.
The pushing and shoving between the two candidates took a turn for the nastier late last week after the board of supervisors announced whether they would appoint a successor to Christie once she officially stepped down due to her pressing health concerns. (With Christie gone, county counsel argued that Christie’s decision to appoint Lynn to fill her shoes has been vacated. If so, it’s up to the five supervisors to determine who should serve as acting DA pending this June’s election outcome.)
Late last week, Lynn’s campaign consult released a dossier of court documents designed to undermine Dudley’s character and credibility as a candidate, let alone as a possible interim DA, should the supervisors be tempted to appoint her instead of Lynn. (Two of the five supervisors — Salud Carbajal and Doreen Farr — have already endorsed Dudley.) Some of the documents referred to cases in which Dudley was upbraided by various judges — in one case quite sternly and personally — for prosecutorial misconduct and overzealousness. According to Dudley’s campaign manager, Brian Robinson, the impressions of misconduct are distorted and that Lynn knew them to be distorted when he released the documents. “Joyce is confident that when people understand all of the relevant facts in these cases,” said Robinson in an email, “her opponent will be revealed to be someone who intentionally tried to mislead the public by only presenting the information that would promote his own campaign.”