Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2001
Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Marin Independent Journal
Contact:  150 Alameda del Prado, Novato, CA 94949
Author: Richard Halstead


Complying with state election law, Marin supervisors yesterday ordered a
special May 22 election to determine whether District Attorney Paula Kamena
should be recalled from office.

County Counsel Patrick Faulkner told supervisors they   had no choice but to
order the election since recall supporters   gathered nearly 14,000 valid
signatures supporting it. The board's vote was 4-0, with Supervisor Steve
Kinsey abstaining.

It was preceded by comments from advocates on both sides of the
controversial issue.

"I believe this recall effort is about using political pressure to get the
district attorney to make decisions based on whim, on preference and
politics, as opposed to the facts and the law," Kamena said.

"This is certainly a sad day for this county," Kamena said, noting that the
election will cost Marin County taxpayers more than $500,000.

But Lynnette Shaw - speaking on behalf of the Legal Abuse Task Force, which
gathered the signatures  - had a different take.

"Today is a triumph for the voters of Marin and the common citizens who have
been abused, ignored, persecuted, inappropriately arrested, inappropriately
prosecuted and inappropriately jailed," Shaw said. "The people demand the
recall of DA Kamena and by the law you must bow to the people."

Ron Mazzaferro, who also spoke in support of the recall, urged supervisors
to go  further.

"It's incumbent upon you not only to put it on the ballot but also to ask
for her resignation to save yourself the very distinct possibility of a
taxpayers' lawsuit that could bankrupt Marin County," Mazzaferro said.

Kamena referred to an "outcry from the community of claims of fraud, deceit
and misrepresentation in the signature-gathering process," and said, "I'm
the target of the deceit and fraud, and therefore my office is precluded
from doing the very thing it should do, which is investigate."

Kamena added, however, that "all those issues have been referred to the
state agencies which are appropriately looking into them."

According to county elections officials, an estimated $15,000 in
contributions supporting the recall have not been reported - an   apparent
violation of state campaign laws.

The petition drive targeting Kamena was launched in May amid a surge of
community resentment about decisions in the Marin courts in cases involving
child custody disputes.

These cases included the prosecution by the District Attorney's Office of
Carol Mardeusz, a Novato woman who was convicted   of attempting to take
custody of her own daughter in violation of a court order.

Four judges were   targeted in the recall effort. But as the campaigns
against the judges fizzled, a second wave of opposition focused on Kamena,
led by critics of her office's marijuana prosecution policies. Shaw,
founding director of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax,
played a key role.

The petition circulated to recall Kamena, however, mentioned only the
Mardeusz case.

"God help this county if someone is elected in this process who will succumb
to this kind of political pressure," Kamena said. "There would be no
fairness in this county, and there would be no justice."

"This is not a joke; this is very, very serious," Mazzaferro said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Andrew