At first, seeing Josh Lynn’s ad accusing Joyce Dudley of plea-bargaining a murder case in order to get back to the campaign trail, I was appalled. And still am, that someone who aspires to be the District Attorney would sling that statement out there, with no evidence or investigation into the circumstances personally. But I’m beginning to think that Lynn’s rash behavior here might be just the illumination the voters need understand who these two candidates really are.
I don’t know Josh Lynn personally; I’ve never met him nor heard from him. In a recent article, he says he knew the facts of the Gregory Doan case well in the beginning, as he was in charge of delegating it to a prosecutor. I’m not aware of that from my end, so I’m guessing that when he states this familiarity, he’s not including knowing the victims in this case as part of that familiarity. But I do know Joyce Dudley. I first met her at my mom’s memorial, over a year and a half ago. I also met my mom’s teammates who narrowly missed being hit themselves. They stayed with my mom as she lay by the side of the road, mortally wounded.
Losing our mother was tragedy enough, but to wait for due process of the criminal justice system is an added agony. Despite the fact that Doan hit my mom in front of plenty of witnesses, he pled not guilty to the charge of second degree murder, or murder without intent. He had a right to claim that as he had no intention of harming anyone, and since he was asleep at the moment of impact, he had no awareness of causing any harm. However, the result is that 19 other runners were traumatized that day and Doan, when he discovered that he had hit someone, instinctually got back in his van to flee. My mom’s teammates blocked his escape, keeping him on the scene until the police could arrive.
Over a year later, it looked as if there might be a trial. My siblings and I prepared for this; I took a leave of absence from work to be available to attend. Although going seemed to be the most difficult thing I had ever been faced with in my life, I was bound to do it, to represent my mom and our family. The court schedule is a busy one, and the trial was pushed back from November to January, then to February…to say that the process was hurried along in order to get back to campaigning is ridiculous. It took over a year and a half for Doan to be sentenced to serve his time in prison.
Joyce Dudley called in early March to discuss options with my siblings and me. We could go to trial, or we could offer a plea bargain to a remorseful man who was beginning to realize the vast impact of his choices. Dudley was very clear with us on the pros and cons of each path, and asked that we discuss the options among ourselves. She made it clear that she wanted our informed input on a resolution, to know which path would lend us the most peace of mind. After a lot of deliberation, we gave our opinion: Offer the plea bargain only once and include that he never get a driver’s license again. The bottom line for us was to prevent Doan from ever harming anyone again. Added to that, we felt it was important to acknowledge the other victims in this case. The plea bargain included 19 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and attempt to flee the scene, charges that wouldn’t have been included in a trial. The result was a harsher sentence. He got 35 years, which is a life sentence for him: He’s a 58-year-old man who has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for the past 20 years. But the plea bargain also bumped his minimum sentence from 15 years to 17.
Joyce Dudley handled this case with the wisdom of her experience, understanding that all of Santa Barbara’s citizens deserve respect and thoughtful consideration. My mom’s life can now be remembered for all the great things she accomplished, not the tragic end. Her family and friends are spared the added agony of enduring a trial. Her teammates are recognized for the threat and suffering they experienced that day, without having to take the witness stand. Doan is given an opportunity to accept responsibility for his actions, and to spare himself and his family further suffering. The citizens of Santa Barbara are assured that Doan, who hasn’t shown an ability to overcome his addiction to alcohol, will never drive again. And lastly, with the help of the defense attorney, Dudley was able to arrange for restitution to be paid by Mr. Doan directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the non-profit our mom was fundraising for when she was killed.
Joyce Dudley has vision, compassion, and a thorough understanding of the law beyond the books. She understood how to deliver justice to all involved in this case, and more importantly she saw it as her duty to do so. I feel very grateful that Joyce spoke up to take this case because I believe that wisdom she showed in handling this case is a rare combination of experience, compassion, and a holistic community perspective. The citizens of Santa Barbara are lucky to have Joyce Dudley in this election.
Josh Lynn, on the other hand, is really showing his true colors and lack of experience by insisting that this case was black and white, and that a trial was the only the only way to go despite the family’s wishes. To see the world in terms of “us vs. them,” the good citizens against the bad ones, is short-sighted, juvenile, and unproductive in building programs to benefit any community. To hear Josh Lynn talk about this case, it’s as if he should punctuate all of his sentences with “So there.” It’s unbefitting of a DA, Mr. Lynn. It’s frustrating to not be able to simply label people sometimes, but that’s when you take it to the gym. Work your frustrations out on a punching bag, not in a courtroom, on the victims of a crime, or on your opponent. And certainly, not in the District Attorney’s office.—Jane Samuels, daughter of Carolyn Samuels
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I’m in love with the District Attorney. And I’m guilty. Guilty of an exaggeration here, because she ain’t the D.A. yet. But she will be on June 8, I betcha. Met her at a gathering that celebrated her decision to run for the office, and “run” she was already doing! Never seen a keener pair of mental track shoes! Took my hand and stood real close, looked me in the eye with a depth and focus that just isn’t available to everybody. No glazed-eyed politician look; she was talkin’ to me, and I felt it. Took it personally. There’s a Zen expression, “Be Here Now.” Well, Joyce Dudley was there then! And I suspect that’s the way she moves through the world, 24/7. Seems to me an amazing humanity is the essence of what we’re lookin’ for in a D.A. Let others speak of her extraordinary qualifications. I met the person, and that’s enough for me. She wasn’t tossing around words like “honesty” and “integrity” that lesser humans ranting for office invoke on their own behalf. No, Joyce Dudley takes me back to a warm, smart, and friendly place in my youth that included a dashing character and friend to man, Dudley Do-Right. Joyce Dudley Do-Right. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
I’m a seasoned Santa Barbarian who sleeps better at night because Joyce Dudley is gonna be my District Attorney. And I love her. Don’t bother to tell my wife, because she loves her too!—John Court, Montecito
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I was a senior criminalist, California Department of Justice, in Santa Barbara for 28 years, testifying as a forensic expert in more than 500 cases in federal and state courts. Part of my job was working on arson cases.
In my experience, Joyce Dudley’s ethics are deeply flawed.
The following are not isolated examples of Dudley’s attempts to improperly elicit false or misleading testimony from me.
1. In the 2002 murder case of Martin Hartmann, my arson analysis results were inconclusive, preventing corroboration and undermining the hate crime allegation, a death penalty charge. Dudley did not seem to understand even the basic concepts of arson prosecution. Dudley said it was a waste of her time for me to explain that her theory was not consistent with the evidence and she did not wish to meet with the defense team about it.
Her recent claims of being an “arson expert” appear to be an exaggeration after handling only one arson trial.
2. In a domestic violence case, Dudley insisted that I speculate in court about “facts” for which there were no foundation. She continued to attempt to elicit false testimony from me, even after speaking to the crime lab director, until Judge Dodds intervened. This is consistent with her conduct in the Inda child molest case in which her behavior set a convicted child molester free.
For years I worked with Josh Lynn who also prosecuted many major cases. I only observed uncompromising ethics, strong preparation and outstanding results from him. — George Levine, Goleta