Recent weeks have brought plenty of headaches for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, including a scandal at the SFPD crime lab and questions over her office's failure to disclose police officers' criminal pasts. In this week's cover story, SF Weekly reports on a longer-brewing problem: an alarming decline in felony trial convictions — including homicide cases — under the most recent two years on Harris' watch.
We report that Harris has won only 55 percent of murder trials since the beginning of 2009, and that in the first quarter of 2010 her office's conviction rate for all felony trials was only 53 percent. By contrast, the most recent statewide average for prosecutors was 83 percent.
Last year, Harris' felony trial conviction rate also fell below those of district attorneys handling criminal cases in California's 10 largest cities. (Data was not available for Sacramento, the state's seventh-largest city.) The story is based on statistics and trial records obtained from court officials and prosecutors in San Francisco and throughout the state.