Elan Firpo1 
Member since May 27, 2010



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Re: “DA Trials

I am currently a Deputy District Attorney working for Mr. Gallegos. Mr. Burns states in his article “If there’s any residual tension or bitterness here, it’s not visible to the untrained eye.” That is because there is no residual tension or bitterness. Our office is composed of extremely hard working, dedicated personnel who take our jobs very seriously and personally. Paul personifies that dedication and is a role model for the rest of us. Additionally, I would like to address a specific case, in which I believe the full story was not presented to the public and Paul was characterized unfairly. On August 25, 2008, Greg Jennings was struck and killed as he rode his bicycle. Mr. Jennings was wearing full protective gear and was an experienced cyclist. He was struck by Mr. Alan Bear. Mr. Bear and a passenger ran off the road by nearly 10 feet and struck Mr. Jennings with the front driver’s side of their truck. The road was straight and the weather was clear. Witnesses said that Mr. Bear was driving fine, right up until he ran off the road and struck Mr. Jennings. Mr. Bear said he was putting a cup in the drink holder and lost control of his vehicle. Mr. Bear was evasive immediately following the accident, denied having a passenger, then denied knowing the passenger, then admitted that the passenger was a lifelong friend and he had told her to leave after the accident. The case was filed as a felony, by Paul, against the advice of many of the staff and investigators in our office. The injustice of Mr. Jennings being killed in such a casual and remorseless manner caused Paul to reach for a felony conviction. Unfortunately, as the investigation proceeded it became clear that the Patrol Officers involved could not testify that there was gross negligence, none of the witnesses could provide any clue as to what caused the accident, and ultimately the case had to be reduced to a misdemeanor. Do I believe in my heart that there was gross negligence involved in this accident? Yes. Did we have any evidence at all of what happened inside the cab of that truck? No. Mr. Bear ultimately was sentenced to one year in jail, which was the maximum sentence available by law.
Our office pursued a judgment against Mr. Bear on behalf of his widow for lost financial support. Mr. Bear was ordered to pay nearly $250,000.00 in restitution. This is the largest criminal restitution order in Humboldt County history, and it was the first time our office has pursued this type of remedy.
There can never be justice done in a case such as the death of Mr. Jennings. However, under Paul, our office fought harder and longer to do the most we could, within the boundaries set by law, than would most other counties within this state. I am not in line for any promotions, raises, or special assignments. I am writing this letter on my own initiative, because I believe it is the right thing to do.

Posted by Elan Firpo on 05/27/2010 at 8:29 PM

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