Debra J. Saunders

Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo determined that prosecutors "at the highest levels of the district attorney's office knew that (Deborah) Madden was not a dependable witness at trial and there were serious concerns regarding the crime lab."

After all the scandals that have hit California law enforcement, Harris had no formal policy for disclosing damaging material about police witnesses.

By contrast, Cooley -- lawman that he is -- when newly elected to the job, implemented the state's first police misconduct disclosure policy in 2002.

Why hadn't Harris followed suit? "I'm not offering any excuses," Harris told the Chronicle's Jaxon Van Derbeken. "We did not have a formal, written policy. My predecessor didn't have one, either. Most district attorneys don't."

Local Democrats love to tell me that they'd vote for a Republican if only they had the chance to support someone who is moderate, not an ideologue.

Well, meet Steve Cooley. He's a Republican who successfully worked across party lines in liberal Los Angeles County. He's a pro-enforcement prosecutor who set a policy to curb police abuses. He's tough, yet he incurred the wrath of Republican opponents who called him soft on crime because of his implementation of California's "three strikes" law. Prosecutors in his office can charge a defendant under "three strikes" for a nonviolent offense, but first they have to get a supervisor's permission.

"He was drafted by law enforcement and others who came to him repeatedly, and he turned them down," Cooley consultant Kevin Spillane told me. "The job was too important to let (Harris) take over the position."

And why did these gray beards push Cooley to run? Simple. Unlike Harris, Cooley is competent.

E-mail Debra J. Saunders at To find out more about Debra J. Saunders, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Debra J. Saunders

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