Santa Clara County

South Bay Prosecutor Says He Faces Demotion, Suspension for Criticizing Profession

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A South Bay prosecutor says he’s been demoted and threatened with suspension for publicly criticizing his profession, as well as his boss.

Daniel Chung is a deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County. He knows he could get fired, but says he felt compelled to point out flaws in the criminal justice system, and his own district attorney’s office.

“The retaliation against me began immediately,” said Chung. “At 8:30 a.m.”

That’s the response he said he received to an op-ed he wrote in the Mercury News in February.

In it, he questioned what he called progressive prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco, for, “creating a revolving door for repeat offenders.”

His editorial was published as attacks against the AAPI community were beginning.

“I had written a piece from my heart about issues that I really cared about,” he said.

At the time, Chung was prosecuting serious violent felonies. He says he was quickly demoted to two other units, and efforts to set up a meeting with his boss, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, failed.

The DA’s office declined to speak with NBC Bay Area, saying it does not comment on personnel matters.

“We never talked,” said Chung. “I’ve been wanting to talk to him to explain everything to him.”

Instead, Chung says he’s likely facing suspension.

"I think our office certainly does a lot of things well,” he said. “The staff has implemented a lot of good things for our community and I give him credit for that. But there are things he is doing where he is pivoting more for political expediency.”

Chung said that while implementing justice reform, he believes prosecutors have lost sight of the rights of victims.

Chung knows those words might be enough to get him fired.

“Hopefully if some good changes come about, from me speaking out, I think I would be very happy, even if it comes at personal expense,” he said.

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