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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Low Morale, Other Woes Found in DA's Office

June 23, 1999

VENTURA — A consulting firm has found chronic problems in the Ventura County district attorney's office, including low pay, intense pressure to perform and managers who cause workers to fear for their jobs.

"Many people in the district attorney's office feel undervalued both as professionals and as human beings," Los Angeles-based Strategic Business Ethics reported in a 17-page summary after interviews with dozens of workers in April.

The study, along with proposed strategies to solve the problems, will be presented to all 600 workers in the prosecutor's office during the next three days during a series of confidential seminars.

"There was no direct intimidation that we could identify," consultant David Lapin said in an interview Tuesday. "But people did say they felt unable at times to frankly speak with their bosses. There was an intensity of management style, and not always the highest level of diplomacy. But that was not widespread."

Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury, in fact, scored high among subordinates who know him, Lapin said. The anxiety among lower-ranking lawyers often came instead from a constant fear of failure, he said.

"Among attorneys, the consequence of error is high," Lapin said. But he added that such fears are not unusual among law enforcement groups.

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