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VENTURA COUNTY LETTERS

Bamieh and Totten in District Attorney Race

February 09, 2002

I have just finished reading the letter to the editor by Don Glynn. Unfortunately, the notions of truthfulness and objectivity are not prerequisites for the right of free speech.

As with most editorials, there is an underlying motive in Mr. Glynn's attempt on "setting the record straight." Mr. Glynn correctly portrayed himself as a retired deputy district attorney for Ventura County. He failed to mention that he benefits from the current practice the D.A' s office has of hiring retired attorneys. This means in addition to Mr. Glynn receiving his retirement benefits, he is paid a staggering $98 an hour by the district attorney's office as extra help. At a recent debate of both candidates hosted by the Prosecutors Assn., Ron Bamieh informed Mr. Glynn that the "gravy train" would come to an end when Mr. Bamieh was elected to the office. Mr. Glynn's motivation is clear. He is not concerned about Mr. Bamieh's record. He is concerned about his pocketbook.

I was present when Mr. Bamieh was notified by his superiors that the Los Angeles Times had made a request for Mr. Bamieh's trial record. Knowing the district attorney's office's system of tracking cases has limitations and because he questioned the motives of the person assigned to compile the public records act request, Mr. Bamieh responded directly to the reporter who made the request. Mr. Bamieh provided a comprehensive record of his felony cases and summaries of each trial he was responsible for prosecuting. Mr. Bamieh provided The Times with a list of more than 90 felony cases that required significant courtroom activity on his part. The list included dates and summaries of all his notable cases. An objective look at Mr. Bamieh's cases shows he has never lost a felony trial.

Mr. Glynn claims to have relied on a document prepared by the district attorney's office to substantiate his attack on Mr. Bamieh's credibility. Mr. Glynn did not mention that the district attorney's office tracks cases by number and by defendant's name, not by the assigned attorney. He also failed to mention that he did not check the more accurate records of the Superior and Municipal courts. I would hope that an educated man would exhaust all resources before attempting to "set the record straight" for us all.

Mr. Bamieh is known throughout this county as a great trial attorney, and his record of never losing a felony trial only tells part of the story. Mr. Bamieh led an investigation that solved an 8-year-old homicide that resulted in a death penalty verdict against Justin Merriman. Mr. Bamieh obtained that verdict even though the victim's body was never recovered and there was no physical evidence. Mr. Bamieh was able to solve the case and obtain the conviction after two other prosecutors in the district attorney's office failed.

During Mr. Bamieh's investigation and prosecution of Mr. Merriman, he was able to convict five other gang members, and even Mr. Merriman's mother, for gang-related crimes. The fact that Mr. Bamieh also assisted the Sheriff's Department in the successful investigation and indictments of six other people in another gang-related slaying, all while the Merriman investigation and trial were ongoing, represents an incredible and unprecedented effort by a deputy district attorney.

Mr. Bamieh's skill has led to some of the most innovative courtroom techniques and prosecutions in the county. Mr. Bamieh prosecuted Jose Garcia for the killing of Marsha Lane. He secured that conviction even though there were no witnesses and the only physical evidence was the strangled body of the victim. Mr. Bamieh worked closely with investigators from the Ventura Police Department, and presented evidence of six other women whom Mr. Garcia had strangled over a 30-year period. Mr. Bamieh prosecuted this case when most prosecutors would not take this challenge.

In this highly contested election, accusations will be made in an attempt to discredit the candidates. Both candidates deserve to be measured and evaluated by reality, not fiction distorted for personal gain. Ron Bamieh is an exceptional attorney and a man of integrity. I cannot remain silent when a friend and co-worker is attacked without merit.

Mark Volpei

Ventura

*

The contest between Greg Totten and Ron Bamieh for the Ventura County district attorney slot is unlike any I recall in my 37 years in Ventura. Mr. Totten's campaign is grass-roots and, as I understand it, the coffers are of Ventura County origin. Mr. Bamieh's war chest is proudly acknowledged to come from his wealthy father, Sam Bamieh of San Mateo. Curiously, it appears that the Bamieh camp is concerned about "insiders" trying to gain influence in the D.A.'s office.

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