New SF DA fires LGBTQ prosecutor

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Friday July 15, 2022
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Former San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Arcelia Hurtado said she was fired July 15. Photo: Courtesy Twitter
Former San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Arcelia Hurtado said she was fired July 15. Photo: Courtesy Twitter

New San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins wasted no time in assembling her leadership team and cleaning house, with one LGBTQ prosecutor stating that she was fired July 15.

Arcelia Hurtado, a bisexual woman, wrote on Twitter that she was let go.

"After over 2 years of tireless and devoted service to the City and Cty of SF, I was unceremoniously fired without cause via phone by the Mayor's appointed DA," Hurtado tweeted. "I am the highest ranking Latina/LGBTQ member of the management team at that office. I will continue the fight 4justice."

A request for comment from Jenkins was not immediately returned. Jenkins was sworn in as DA July 8 after being appointed by Mayor London Breed following the June 7 recall of former DA Chesa Boudin. Jenkins will need to run in November to complete Boudin's term, which runs through early 2024. There's also a scheduled DA's race in 2023.

Jenkins announced Friday that she has assembled her leadership and transition teams. The management team is all women.

"I promised the public that I would restore accountability and consequences to the criminal justice system while advancing smart reforms responsibly," Jenkins stated in a news release. "My new management team, which will include the addition of three women of color, with decades of prosecutorial experience at the highest levels, will help our office deliver on that promise. I have full faith and confidence that these women will promote and protect public safety while delivering justice in all of its various forms."

Jenkins' new top hires — Ana Gonzalez, Nancy Tung, Tiffany Sutton, and Rani Singh Mann — all have prosecutorial experience. Tung, who was a prosecutor in Alameda County, ran against Boudin for the open DA post in 2019 but received only about 19% of the vote.

Gonzalez will be the lead managing attorney in the office. Tung was hired as chief of special prosecutions and community partnerships. Sutton was named chief of alternative programs and initiatives and juvenile. She was hired by former San Francisco DA Kamala Harris, who is now U.S. vice president. Singh Mann was hired as senior transition adviser.

Other assistant district attorneys were also expected to be fired, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a Facebook message to the Bay Area Reporter, Hurtado also said others were expected to be let go.

"I was fired without cause," she wrote. "I was the highest ranking Latina queer woman of color in the city and county and a highly respected an accomplished civil rights attorney. Sadly, this will decimate the office as I am only 1 of 15 or so high ranking people being fired today.

"This is clearly political retaliation as we were all hired by Chesa Boudin," Hurtado added. "The appointed DA did not even bother to speak to any of us or give us any notice that we were being fired. Utter lack of decency and abysmal lack of leadership."

As the B.A.R. previously reported, Hurtado was involved in Boudin's truth, justice, and reconciliation commission that he announced with great fanfare in 2020. Two years later, however, it is believed that the commission has yet to start any work. It is unclear whether Jenkins will keep the commission.

The B.A.R. reached out to James Bell, founding president of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, which had been involved with the truth and justice commission and was supposed to head up the efforts. An automatic reply from Bell stated that the institute "is closed for the remainder of the year."

Boudin two summers ago had joined the top prosecutors in Philadelphia and Boston, along with two civil rights advocates, to announce the formation of truth, justice, and reconciliation commissions, or TJRCs, in each of the cities — during the nationwide protests following the police murder of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota — to review and officially acknowledge long-standing systemic racial inequities in the criminal justice system.

Jenkins did signal that she would support the innocence commission that Boudin started, according to the Chronicle. Hurtado said that she'd been Boudin's appointment to that panel.

"She refused to answer my question during my firing whether she would disband that commission," Hurtado wrote.

That panel examines cases for possible wrongful convictions, unlike the truth and reconciliation panel, which was supposed to deal with more systemic issues in the criminal justice system.

Hurtado wrote that Jenkins "also refused to answer my question regarding whether I was being fired because I prosecuted the Napoleon Brown case, Mayor Breed's brother. Yes, the same mayor who appointed her."

Brown, the mayor's brother, is serving a 44-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. He was to have had a court hearing in June to possibly reduce his sentence. But the Chronicle reported the matter was delayed, meaning that it will fall under the authority of Jenkins' office. Boudin's office had contested Brown's bid for a new sentence, the paper reported.

It is not unusual for new DA's to hire their own people for senior positions and fire others. Boudin fired several experienced prosecutors after he was sworn into office in January 2020.

But Hurtado said that was different.

"Finally, there were no mass firings under DA Boudin," she stated. "He fired a handful of unethical prosecutors, many of whom had active or past complaints with the State Bar. That is very different from mass firings that took place today with no cause."

Updated, 7/15/22: This article has been updated with additional comments from Arcelia Hurtado.

Updated, 7/15/22: This article has been updated with regard to former DA Chesa Boudin's truth commission.

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