Darryl Perlin: 1947-2021

Darryl Perlin was a friend of mine.

He and his wife, Linda, both graduates of UCLA, were married 52 years. Linda and their three daughters and grandchildren survive.

I met him when newly elected District Attorney Stan Roden hired him — a decision that was so significant for all who knew and interacted with Darryl. He worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Santa Maria, and then in Santa Barbara, where he remained for the rest of his wonderful, energetic, and successful career, spanning almost 35 years, until his retirement.

Darryl and I were assigned to the Career Offender Program in the DA’s Office. This unit handled property crimes by defendants with long criminal records. It was here that Darryl really came into his own. These cases were often the recipient of a long memo, detailing each and every one of the defendant’s past crimes.

Thereafter, he handled a wide assortment of felony cases until his retirement. Many of them were memorable. They included prosecuting and convicting the Chancellor of UCSB for embezzlement; the murder of the husband in a divorce matter by the parents of the ex-wife, resulting in a plea of guilty by the father and a jury conviction of murder for the ex; the first “torture” conviction in California after the crime was added via Proposition 115 in 1990 of a particularly sadistic defendant; the successful prosecution of three defendants for the grave robbing of Chumash artifacts on Santa Cruz Island; and a most memorable misdemeanor conviction of the son of a wealthy, oil-rich Saudi national — a case that withstood international pressure to show leniency or to take money instead of justice. The defendant fled after a jury conviction for reckless driving — in his Ferrari — but later was sentenced to 45 days in jail after a huge money fine to allow the defendant to buy his way out of trouble was rejected. As Darryl said, “He gambled, he lost, and now he must pay!”

Many, many other significant cases were assigned to Darryl with positive results. A very notorious kidnapping for ransom of a 19-year-old victim in 1993 eventually resulted in a plea of guilty by the mastermind of a three-defendant group of co-conspirators. The lead defendant also pleaded guilty to sexual assault and for soliciting someone to beat up a jailhouse informant. In subsequent post-trial litigation, the defendant had a perjury charge added. Darryl did not let go once he had his teeth in you. A twice-escaped embezzlement defendant, who chose rich men to victimize and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” used embezzled funds to get a facelift and used the stolen money for her expensive tastes while on the lam. When she was captured, the file was assigned to Darryl, and the defendant went to prison. Darryl’s comment, “She wanted to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but now she must pay!”

Darryl had a perfectly synchronized ethical compass. In 1982, when I was appointed the assistant district attorney, Darryl would often come to my office and tell me about various problems and suggest policy changes — and virtually all of them were implemented as he was right on the button with his concerns. At our weekly meetings at which pending cases were discussed, Darryl was an active participant, often suggesting things that should be done on the cases under review to make them bulletproof. He was excellent at pointing out elements to make a case stronger.

THE KING: Darryl Perlin’s career with the District Attorney’s Office was marked with glee by his love for Elvis. | Credit: Courtesy

Darryl was known as being super-prepared — and many a law enforcement officer was the recipient of an investigation request that seemed over the top but later proved to be so important. No stone was left unturned. In one case he told the detectives to contact and interview every person in the defendant’s address book — resulting in one of the people telling the detectives that the defendant, who was on trial for murder, had approached him requesting a gun that could not be traced!

Darryl arrived to work early and often would appear in my office with a Steely Dan CD, which he would put on the player, open the windows, and do a dance and sing-along! Jurors and courthouse employees must have wondered just what was going on up there on the fourth floor of the DA’s Office! On other important “Elvis” days, a life-size Gold Elvis cardboard cutout would be standing on the ledge outside Darryl’s office window, looking down on Santa Barbara street, to the amusement of all. Inside his office he maintained a “shrine” with Elvis memorabilia — so interesting and unusual that his office was often a stop on the office tour any employee was giving.

For many years, Darryl starred as the right fielder for the DA City League Softball team. He organized yearly the bus trips to Dodger Stadium for the office and courthouse employees. Some may also recall Darryl and Commissioner Ed De Caro dressing up as the Blues Brothers, black hats and sunglasses included, and making court appearances. They performed at my own retirement party and received a standing ovation! People still talk about it to this day!

When news of Darryl Perlin’s death broke on April 29, social media lit up, many of the remembrances referring to Elvis, for whom Darryl had a lifelong enthusiasm. Dressing up in his gold lamé Elvis outfit (made for him by Sheri Markley of the Sheriff’s Department), complete with “Elvis” sunglasses, Darryl would make periodic court appearances as The King of Rock and Roll while court was in session. He would just walk in the back door of the courtroom with the judge on the bench and the courtroom full of defendants, in and out of custody, their friends and relatives, and all the attorneys. Someone — usually an in-custody defendant — would say, “Look! It’s Elvis!” The judge would look up and ask “Elvis” to come forward, and then they would engage in a colloquy, ending with “Elvis” asking the judge to “be good” to the defendants that day, as it was Elvis’s birthday. It’s true! You can’t make this stuff up!

Some of the Facebook comments from veteran law enforcement officers — and there were many — are worth quoting: “A great prosecutor and a fun guy,” “one of the best,” “Thank you for being there for us!” “an honor working with him.” There were many more, all with the same thoughts about what a great guy he was. Many of them of course added that “Elvis has left the building”!

A shiva minyan was held at Congregation B’nai B’rith on April 29. I, along with many others, watched and listened to it via Zoom. The comments made it clear that there was more to Darryl than the District Attorney’s Office. He was as gifted as he was unique and generous and had a penchant for leaving voicemails that ran out the tape on answering machines and sending books and gifts unsolicited. Darryl had a wonderful sense of right and wrong.

Darryl was a credit to the Office of the District Attorney, and to the legal profession.

Yes, Darryl Perlin was a friend of mine!


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