San Francisco

New San Francisco District Attorney Speaks Out After Firing Prosecutors

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Newly-elected San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin spoke out Monday after firing a half-dozen prosecutors just days into the job.

Boudin was sworn in last Wednesday. Two days later, he fired at least six of the department's attorneys, including the head of the homicide unit and the manager of the gang unit.

"It should not come as a surprise to anybody that a newly-elected official would want to make staff changes," Boudin said. "That's true in any agency, particularly executive agencies."

Boudin would not confirm who he fired or how many people he fired.

"Well, personnel matters are obviously private," he said.

Nathan Ballard, an advisor to the San Francisco Municipal Attorneys Association, said those fired included longtime employees who would have followed Boudin's instruction.

"None of these attorneys deserved to be fired on day one," he said.

Ballard suggested the attorneys were fired because they either contributed to Boudin's opponent in the election or they had beaten him in court.

Boudin did know the attorneys in the district attorney's office, as he spent the past four years as a public defender. On Monday, he told a spokeswoman that at one time or another, he had faced off against nearly every attorney in the department he now heads.

"We're going to be making changes," Boudin said. "We're going to be doing it transparently. And to that end, we have an all staff meeting today at 4 p.m. so I can speak directly with everybody in the office about the changes that are coming and reassure them about the vision that I share and the role they play in achieving that vision."

A former defense attorney firing top lieutenants when they take over the district attorney's office is not new. Terence Hallinan did it in 1996, firing 14 attorneys, which led to a morale crisis in the district attorney's office.

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