On Monday morning, Hilary Dozer drank a cup of coffee and put his feet up — his first day free from prosecuting crime after a 35-year career. “My first priority is to understand that retirement is not thinking about criminal cases 24/7,” he said.
When Dozer, who is from Santa Barbara, first landed a job at the District Attorney’s Office in 1980, voters had recently passed laws for harsher punishments — i.e., the three strikes law and charging juveniles as adults. In the past few years, however, the pendulum has swung and there has been a push to release prisoners, which Dozer believes is problematic. For instance, the passage of AB 109 placed state prisoners in county jails, and various types of drug offenses have been decriminalized. Though he is not in favor of such changes, he said his job has been to uphold the laws. “It wasn’t my decision to ignore them or not,” Dozer said.
Fresh out of McGeorge School of Law, Dozer never thought he would spend his career at the District Attorney’s Office. “It was something I thought would be interesting for a while, but I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I know this sounds sort of pollyanna-ish, but I would wake up in the morning for the last 35 years and want to go to work. It’s been challenging and satisfying.” He was bumped up to Assistant District Attorney in 2012 after serving as Chief Deputy District Attorney since 2010.
Dozer had focused on gang-related cases since the early 1990s, though not exclusively, when the office decided it would have a dedicated gang prosecutor. He’s handled a number of notable murder cases, is the recipient of the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Outstanding Performance, and has been recognized twice as the Deputy District Attorney of the year. Dozer expressed disappointment with the gang injunction ruling; he said its fatal flaw was the fact that community members and business owners did not come forward and testify because they feared negative consequences.
Gordon Auchincloss, who has served as Chief Deputy District Attorney since 2010, will take Dozer’s place. Kelly Scott, who has served as Chief Deputy District Attorney in Santa Maria, will move to the South County office to fill Auchincloss’s spot. Prosecuting attorney Paul Greco, who previously managed the Lompoc Branch, will take Scott’s place and will supervise both the Santa Maria and Lompoc branches. Three deputy district attorneys are also leaving now, and three more will retire in March. Dozer’s ending salary was about $181,920, according to county human resources director Jeri Muth.