Matt Darby declared his candidacy for the office of District Attorney of Tulare County Thursday in front of the Tulare County Courthouse.
Clayton Diltz, a chaplain at the Fresno Veterans Home, introduced Darby to the crowd summing him up by saying “in a word Matt is authentic.”
Darby said that his purpose is “to bring back integrity to the office of Tulare County District Attorney (TCDA.)”
As a long-time prosecutor for the TCDA, Darby left to work in Kings County along allegedly with nine other lawyers because of a lack of leadership and integrity inside the TCDA office. Darby puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the current DA, Tim Ward.
Darby said, Ward “pursued the office of district attorney for political gain instead of prosecuting the difficult cases.”
“He hasn’t taken on the more difficult cases because they don’t provide enough political payback,” said Darby.
According to Darby’s press release, “When we are able to clean up the mess at Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, we can once again hope to attract and keep skilled and successful prosecutors working for us. We have lost so many experienced advocates of justice, myself included, as we sought work compatible with our ethical duty. We have lost over 100 years of combined experience in our prosecutors since Tim Ward has been in office. I am committed to attracting experienced prosecutors to Tulare County, rather than pushing them away as Mr. Ward’s office has done.”
Darby said that he is running as a prosecutor, not a politician.
“I don’t care about the personal accolades. My value comes from being a Christian and believing in God as our savior.”
What Darby would prefer to see are the people who put all the work into the cases, such as victim’s advocates and prosecutors, get more credit than they do under Ward’s administration.
Darby also attributes a lack of integrity inside the DA’s office to Ward’s acceptance of big corporate campaign donations.
Because Ward took $21,000 from Medflow and Health Care Conglomerate Associates (HCCA,) companies owned by Dr. Benny Benzeevi, “he is hopelessly compromised in the investigation into HCCA.” Darby also attributes Benzeevi’s donations as the reason Ward started so late in the game his investigating HCCA.
“I will see that big donors are no longer able to influence investigations and prosecution decisions.”
Darby said he guarantees a very fair, thorough, and complete investigation into all cases no matter who they involve.
“Good prosecutors know that we must be allowed independent and aggressive prosecution of those who commit crimes.”
Narcotics and Gangs
The two biggest issues for Darby are narcotics and gangs.
“Right now the DA’s office is prosecuting drug crimes, but they are not aggressive enough.”
He said when he worked at the TCDA’s office, he was the last methamphetamine expert to prosecute cases. He was in that position for three years until the federal grant ran out.
“We were making huge inroads and I encouraged Ward to make it a permanent position,” Darby said. But the DA wanted to wait for another possible grant.
“Ward would not commit county money to this even though meth is the main problem facing Tulare County.” Darby pointed out that more people died last year from drug overdose than in the Vietnam War.
“Narcotics cases have dire consequences for the community,” he said. “We should be aggressively prosecuting cases that adversely affect our community and not wait for a federal hand-out.
According to Darby’s press release:
“Matt Darby is a career prosecutor and trial attorney with a long record of public service. His grandparents moved to Tulare County to find work in the fields during the height of the Great Depression. Matt grew up in Porterville and has often commented publicly on the consequences of increased gang and narcotics activity in his hometown.
Darby attended Strathmore and Rockford elementary schools and graduated from Monache High School, where he participated in student government and water polo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political studies with a summa cum laude distinction at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, then earned a law degree at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Darby served as student body president and was selected to speak at his 2005 graduation ceremony.”
He now lives in Visalia with his wife and four children.
Darby says he “had an all-American childhood.
“For me, I couldn’t have grown up in a better environment.” He said the communities were clean, crime was low, and it was safe to play outside.
After returning from law school he saw so much more crime and pan handling. “It was not what I remembered from when I was younger.”
Darby isn’t saying that Ward is the problem, but that Ward “lacks the vision of what Tulare County was and what Tulare County could be.”
Ward is not from the Valley and came to the area to work in the DA’s office.
“For him,” Darby said, “Tim Ward sees Tulare County through the bubble of the District Attorney’s office and through words on a police report. That doesn’t give you the full panorama of what Tulare County is all about. He arrived here with Tulare County already suffering from high crime, drug use and gangs.”
Darby said, “I always wanted to serve and be a public prosecutor. I have a passion to make a difference in my community.”
He said, the last time Ward prosecuted a trial was in 2010.
“That’s not my role,” Ward allegedly said.
“I completely disagree,” said Darby
One way Darby plans on accomplishing his goals is to stay in the courtroom and prosecute trials as the elected attorney.
“I want to make that difference by bringing Tulare County back to the days before the drugs and gangs took over.”