Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bryson: Pink for crime survivors, blue for law enforcement

The McKinleyville Press ◼ ◼ The Independent
Arcata Eye - Kathleen Bryson: Pink for crime survivors, blue for law enforcement – February 10, 2010

Kathleen Bryson is quickly becoming known as a unique personality in the district attorney’s election.

At first brush, she’ll lean toward subjects more esoteric than politics, but she also has plenty to say about how the District Attorney’s Office is being run – and how she can run it better.

And, like all the announced and rumored challengers so far, she has insider’s experience, having worked under Incumbent District Attorney Paul Gallegos as a deputy DA from October 2005 to March 2007.

She is now in criminal defense private practice and continuing to take on DUI, possession and cultivation cases after doing similar work for the Law Offices of Manny Daskal, Bryson is aiming for management of the county’s prosecutors.

She says she’s doing it out of a sense of responsibility.

“It gets to the point where you have to run, when you see a lot of things being done improperly, things you know you can do better,” said Bryson.

She emphasized her mix of law and business experience – she worked in London as a legal advisor for Tesco Stores, a major global retailer, from 1998 to 2003 – and wants to apply that experience to the DA’s Office.

“We need to treat it like a business and properly manage, train and motivate people,” she said. Bryson liked that Gallegos “didn’t manage me too much” but said a slack approach doesn’t work as well with younger, less experienced attorneys.

Bryson has more advice for Gallegos: “When you hold a meeting, you don’t have it be just a bull session.”

She added that if Gallegos takes up her advice, it could offset her campaign but will help the office.

“So here we are, Paul: you need another legal secretary,” she said. “You have two for about 15 lawyers, they get sick a lot. And if they’re not sick, they wish they were – those girls are overworked. I said it while I was in there, I’m going to say it now.”

Continuing to address Gallegos directly, Bryson added, “I also told you when I was in there – turn off the lights after hours – unless you have stock in PG&E, turn them off.”

Bryson also commented on something that has been widely talked about since Gallegos overturned former DA Terry Farmer’s longtime authority in 2003 – the loss of many veteran deputy DAs.

She acknowledged that “there are deputy district attorneys who don’t want me to win” but added, “Once I win, they’re going to be gratified to see that I will remain professional, and they will keep their jobs.”

One of the longtime attorneys who lost their deputy DA work is Allison Jackson, a respected prosecutor of crimes against children and women who was fired after an unsuccessful attempt to recall Gallegos in 2004.

There’s been speculation about the reason for it – and Jackson’s emergence as a DA candidate – ever since.

“Paul fired her because Paul wanted to, I don’t know if he had any other criteria than that,” said Bryson. “Of course, I’m not necessarily in the know as to why Paul fired Allison right in the middle of a prelim (preliminary hearing), but I’m sure Paul will be able to tell you that if you interview him.”

Divulged or not, the circumstances of Jackson’s firing will be talked about more during the election.

When Bryson was asked about her own exit from the Office, she said Manny Daskal’s firm had a high caseload and paid better.

Asked about the issues that will matter most in the election, Bryson talked about the symbolism of her campaign colors – pink represents “survivors” of serious crimes, she said, relating it to the handling of the case against Jason Whitmill and Anthony Flores, the men who caused the death of nine-year-old Nicole Quigley while drag racing on State Route 299 and agreed to plea deals.

Bryson has been criticized by Quigley’s father, and she clarified that use of the color pink represents respect for “survivors not being treated the way they should be in a case like that – that case hit me pretty hard … my daughter is the exact same age, almost, as Nicole Quigley.”

Observing the court proceedings in the case, Bryson said she was surprised that Gallegos took on the case and then handed the prosecution off to Deputy DA Maggie Flemming.

“Why on earth would Paul take a case like that?” she asked, saying that the DA should only take felony cases if “he thinks he can do it better than the other lawyers in his office – no, you can’t, Paul.”

Another reason is “taking a case to get your name in the paper – well, you’ll never see me do that, ever,” she said.

Bryson also said that a DA becomes inaccessible when felony cases and jury trials are taken on.

The color blue in her campaign signs and buttons will be for law enforcement, she continued.

She believes police agencies have “about had it with Paul,” although she added that he’s paid some attention to the issue since she was first quoted on it by the Times-Standard newspaper.

Asked about use of plea bargains, which is sure to be a major election issue, Bryson said they’re a “mandatory” aspect of the judicial system. But on the misdemeanor level, “where we can easily afford to have a plea bargain or two,” Gallegos is taking cases to trial to train his inexperienced prosecutors.

“Which is great if it weren’t so unethical and an abuse of power – we are clogging the courtrooms with penny ante misdemeanor cases,” she said.

Bryson’s prosecution priorities will be violent crimes and sex crimes. Regarding drug offences, “If I could use one four-letter word, it wouldn’t be Paul, it would be meth,” she said. “Right now he’s doing his best but it’s just not good enough.”

Marijuana is a more difficult subject to assess as laws on it continue to change, but Bryson called for “no more lawyers, guns and money” promoted by a black market. She favors legalization/regulation and better communication between defense attorneys and prosecutors on medical needs.

If police search medical grows that are apparently overblown, they should leave behind an amount of cannabis that fits the concept of patient needs, Bryson added.

Unlike the other announced and rumored challengers, Bryson’s name is a new one to many people.

But she said that other than spending a few years in London, her family has been in Humboldt since 1993 and loves it here.

“It seems like I’m this person from out of nowhere, but I’m not,” she said.

By Daniel Mintz - Press Staff Writer


  1. Correction of Facts in the February 9, 2010 article
    in the Arcata Eye, McKinleyville Press, and The Independent
    “Bryson: Pink for Crime Survivors, Blue for Law enforcement” By Daniel Mintz

    After marrying her husband Gary in Saratoga, CA, in August of 1992, the couple moved to Humboldt where Ms. Bryson lived and worked from September 1992 until April 1994. The Brysons had their first daughter, Gillian, in August 1993 at General Hospital in Eureka. However, before deciding to settle here, she would often visit her sister, Maggie, who has been a Humboldt resident for 22 years. Ms. Bryson has also spent summer vacations here visiting her family while getting her law degree from Tulane in New Orleans.

    After April 1994, Kathleen worked in Los Angeles from April 1994 until April 1996. In addition to working on criminal appeals, she gained experience in plaintiff’s personal injury law, negotiating with insurance companies after the Northridge/Reseda earthquake of January 1994. In April 1996, the Brysons moved their family of three to London where they remained from April 1996 to late July of 2005. In London, she dealt with high-level commercial matters for Tesco and its suppliers. They also welcomed a new addition to the family in January 2000, namely their second daughter, Kaitlyn.

    In August of 2005, Ms. Bryson returned to Humboldt County where she worked at the office of Gena Eichenberg until March 2007. At that time Ms. Bryson was representing minors in custody and visitation issues, as well as in dependency matters. She then went on to work with Paul Gallegos at the District Attorney’s Office from March 2007 through June 2008. To further her well rounded career, in June of 2008, Kathleen moved on to Manny Daskal’s office where she learned criminal defense trial work in a very busy practice. She specialized in DUI defense work, but also handled a variety of criminal defense matters. In addition, Ms. Bryson was given the opportunity to learn about marijuana defense, by representing defendant’s accused of cultivation offenses.

    Most recently, Kathleen can be found practicing law from her own office located directly across from the Eureka Court House on 5th Street. She is handling all the same types of cases as she did with Manny Daskal, as well as some family law work. Further, she is also using her vast commercial contracts experience to help people in business. Whether a person is a small entrepreneur, a musician or artist, or a larger business, Ms. Bryson enjoys helping businesses prosper.

    She is enjoying the challenges and variety of all this work, while campaigning to be your next District Attorney!

  2. Sounds like she is already in the pocket of the pot growers, just like Gallegos.

  3. Ben McLaughlin2/17/2010 9:21 PM


    You were not a professional as a prosecutor and are not a professional now. You are vindictive and petty and stink of sour grapes.

    The DDA's you condescend to and attempt to demean have had more trials and charged more cases than you've done in your career to date. That, and they've beaten you soundly at every turn.

    From your limited perspective, how has the DA's office mishandled cases? You don't know the first thing about Whitmill/Flores, aside from what you've read in the paper. As a former prosecutor, you must know that the handling attorney knows the strength of the case--the press does not.

    I embrace everyone's right to support who they want to support; to like or hate who they want to like or hate; but please don't be so pedantic and predictable in your criticism.

  4. Mclaughin, your arrogance is amazing and seems typicaL like the DA's. How dare the pubic disagree with any of you? We pay YOUR salaries. On election day you will have an awakening and you may just want to rethink telling the public off for criticizing the failures of the current DA and staff

  5. 12:11
    Read to the end of the comment before you start flaming:

    McLaughlin said:
    "I embrace everyone's right to support who they want to support; to like or hate who they want to like or hate; but please don't be so pedantic and predictable in your criticism."

    Applies to 12:11 Anonymous as well as Kathleen Bryson

  6. Evidently 8:30 (ahem McLaughlin)can't take the criticism. 12:11 hit the nail on the head. Accusing a candidate of being unprofessional, or vindictive for discussing the same horrible problems that Hagan spoke about is being pendantic and predicable McLaughlin. Did the skirt push you over the edge?

    Hagan wrote about the same dysfunction with the people and plea bargains. If you had a boss that did his job and was honest, this wouldn't be happening.

  7. Hi, Kathleen Bryson here.

    One of my staff alerted me to this current blog line so I am taking time out to respond.

    First, I would like everyone to know that I do not post anonymously. I never have, and never will. I applaud Ben (McLaughlin) for doing the same.

    If the People do elect me, then Ben's job is also secure. I won't be firing anyone because of differences of opinion.

    Yes, the current misdo deputies do have more experience prosecuting because I left in June 2008 to go into private practice and they stayed on. As Ben knows, I did prosecute several jury trials when I was a deputy and handled quite a few DUIs. Ben also knows that I went head to head with Angela Fitzsimons who was a very feisty and prolific PD. Having her as my worthy opponent was like have two defense counsels in one. She is now doing felony work in Santa Cruz.

    And, I agree with Ben, the current misdo deputies are really good and have miles of potential. They just need the experience and more discretion in what cases to take to trial. They also need a better role model than they currently have.

    Finally, although they are young, they do not need Ben to stand up for them. They can look after themselves.

    Ben M., if you ever want to discuss the issues, you know where find me. My number is 707 268 8600

    Best, Kathleen (Bryson)


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