Alavezos: Ward’s experience, leadership merit re-election

There is a political race coming up in a few months. My boss, Tim Ward is running for re-election as Tulare County District Attorney. The challenger started his campaign by insulting myself and the staff of our entire office by stating he needs to “clean up” the office.

Something Mr Ward has been attacked over and over for is the acceptance of campaign donations; however, Mr Ward proved he would do the right thing when he directed an investigation be opened into a matter involving of significant public importance irregardless of who donated money to his campaign. Investigations are not something that can be transparent to the detriment of everything except the criminal justice process so I will not comment on anything outside of the public record as it relates to this particular matter.

This challenger is campaigning against my boss for accepting large financial donations but has no trouble accepting them on behalf of his own campaign ($15,000 from one particular business address as of his first required campaign donation disclosure). At this point we have no idea what he will do should he be faced with the same situation as Mr Ward.

It should be noted that the challenger and his supporters claim our office only began aforementioned high profile investigation as a result of his running for Office. It is a matter of public record that our office was involved in demanding a court force a board to seat a duly elected board member months prior to his announcement of the intent to run for office. The day he announced it was also reported that our office serviced a search warrant which was the first public documentation of the ongoing investigation by our office.

The challenger’s next attack on our office is a claim that the ethical prosecutors left the office stating “100 years of experience” have left (without mentioning any name other than his own). Again, this is a personal attack on the integrity those who currently work at our office.

Should he ever choose to name names I am afraid I will have to return to this topic. It won’t be pleasant for me – but needless to say I can imagine who is on his list. Those no longer with our office left as a result of their own choices – none of which had anything to do with misplaced ethics of those still here.

Since he has mentioned that he left the office “for ethical reasons” I think it is fair to consider exactly what those reasons actually were. He recently claimed to have left our office as the domestic violence homicide prosecutor. Personally I think honesty is very important for an elected official and this statement is not an honest one. Though he had been assigned as the DV homicide prosecutor he never actually took a murder case to trial in Tulare county. Shortly before resigning the challenger was in trial on an attempted murder case when the defendant decided to plead guilty. Normally this would be good news but this particular defendant had a second case involving the robbery of a separate victim. The challenger decided to dismiss the robbery case violating two office policies, 1) not discussing the case resolution with the victim prior to resolving the case, and 2) not discussing the resolution of a case on the day of (or in this case two days into) trial. Shortly after resolving this case the deputy was reassigned to the Visalia prosecution team which must have seemed to him to be a demotion as he resigned from the office within a couple of months. Which brings me back to honesty. The challenger was not the domestic violence prosecutor when he left our office as he has claimed in public forums.

Speaking of leaving the office. At the time he resigned, the challenger was set to start his first murder trial. In fact it started the Monday following his last day with our office. I know the case well as I ended up taking it to trial myself. I discovered that it was completely unprepared for trial. I had to outline the case, add witnesses necessary to a conviction, and obtain and discover notes that he had failed to request in the two weeks I had to prepare the case for trial. Fortunately the case came together and the defendant was convicted of first degree murder. What I learned then is that the challenger did not know how to prepare a major case for trial despite nine years of experience. He was provided material by myself that told him how to prepare the case for trial but he apparently did not review what he needed to do, or was just focused on getting to his new job.

According to his current bio he has prosecuted three murder trials while at the Kings County District Attorney’s office. What he omits from his bio is the fact that he apparently was the second chair, assisting as opposed to lead trial attorney. A quick google search of the cases he names will show that he did the first with an attorney who had significant seniority to him (plus her name was first in the news article) and the next two, three actually since one had to be tried twice, were with the then assistant district attorney for Kings County – now a deputy public defender.

A little about our office. We have approximately 65 attorney’s including management. There are a total of ten supervising attorneys, each with a team. Myself and one other assistant district attorney are upper management covering all of the teams, I have the bureau of special prosecutions and my counterpart has the bureau of general prosecutions. In addition we have a chief criminal deputy who we report to and who had his own responsibilities but will cover for us if either are unavailable as well as a Chief of the Bureau of Investigations (think Chief of Police). The four of us would be considered upper management along with Tim Ward our boss. Not counting our Chief Investigator we have in excess of 50 years of management experience, with a total of over 80 years of prosecutorial experience. As a group we have prosecuted well over 250 jury trials which include between us more than 60 murder trials. Should the challenger win, this experience will be lost to Tulare County.

As for Tim Ward himself, he was an army officer prior to law school. He started in this office in 1999 and has held many positions within the office with his last assignment as a trial deputy on the homicide team. As a homicide prosecutor and supervisor he took six murder cases to trial including a capital case that took place in the Jack in the Box on Mooney Boulevard. The defendant’s name in that case was Isaac Meraz. Mr Ward also had a number or other high profile cases as a deputy and supervisor. All of his murder trials resulted in first degree convictions, five of which were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and one to life in Prison with a possibility of parole in 77 years. All of Tim’s homicides cases have been upheld by the courts on appeal.

When Mr Ward was appointed assistant district attorney, a position that cannot be effectively performed while in trial, his focus turned to upper management issues such as personnel and budget. He also headed up a project to bring our office into the 21st century with electronic filing with the courts.

At this point I am brought back to another claim by the challenger, that he will “personally take cases to trial”. I find this entertaining for a couple of reasons: first because I know what his trial skills were when he left, skills that must not have improved a lot if he has yet to do a homicide on his own; and second, can you imagine a police chief who would commit himself to working cases on the front lines as a detective… Police Chiefs and District Attorneys do not have the time it takes to prepare a case for trial as their duties and responsibilities are to those people who actually do have the time. A district attorney is a leader and a manager. A district attorney sets policy, hires attorneys, works with state and federal agencies, interacts and works with our local politicians in Sacramento to insure the continued safety of our citizens by supporting proposed laws that will benefit public safety while shouting with the voice of reason against policies and laws that put people at risk (we really tried to wake people up to what Proposition 57 would do to public safety but some people just read the title and no further). As an assistant district attorney I cannot effectively do my job from the courtroom but I am going back there one last time because not to do so would be a disservice to the family of the victim as I took the case on when I was the supervisor of the homicide team.

Turning back to management and leadership, the challenger never applied to be a supervisor here in Tulare county and was never considered for such a position. He is not a supervisor in his current employment either. He doesn’t have the necessary budget experience for a multi-million dollar budget such as ours or the personnel experience to lead a staff of almost 200; deputies, investigators, IT specialists, victim advocates, support staff, witness coordinators, subpoena servers, paralegals and numerous other staff that make up our office.

Mr Ward’s successes as District Attorney have been numerous. He has expanded the number of victim advocates working with underserved communities, created a child protection team and had the leadership and foresight to create a human trafficking task force that has saved a number of children from those who were preying upon them.

I wish to conclude this evening with something for those who will be voting for the Tulare County District Attorney to consider. You are looking to hire someone for the next four years to run the office of the district attorney. Like we do when interviewing perspective attorneys you should take into consideration the experience of those who apply and vote for the one who has a proven leadership and management track record over someone who has none.

David Alavezos is a Tulare County Assistant District Attorney.

22 thoughts on “Alavezos: Ward’s experience, leadership merit re-election

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      • The above photo was taken from the DA’s Office own Facebook page before someone removed it. I bet Dave knows something about that, too.

  1. Tim Ward does have way more experience… at giving out sweetheart deals to defense attorneys who contribute to his campaign.

    Just ask the guy who literally abused a baby to death and got his offer reduced by about 10 years after he switched to an attorney who had made big donations to Ward.

    Sit in the courtroom and watch how many of those attorneys bee line straight to Ward’s office when they don’t get the offer they want from the line deputies.


    I made sure that Florida has all of the police reports to insure that a Florida jury will get to consider the California murders when deciding on whether to impose the death penalty. Which state do you think will make it through the appellate process quicker and actually implement the appropriate penalty in the Martinez case?

    • But your (and Ward’s) duty is to Tulare County residents/voters, NOT Florida. You dropped the ball. You let an actual honest to God serial killer off with a life sentence. Meanwhile, YOU seek a death sentence for a women in a tumultuous relationship who killed (if found guilty) one person. Good job. There’s that excellent Ward/Alavezos judgment I keep reading about.

      • I will not and cannot talk about pending trials. If Florida was not a factor then I am sure he would have ended up on our death row here along with Christopher Cheary and Juan Ramon Sanchez. I am hope and expect our recent initiative will speed the process, however, if we kept Martinez here for trial I doubt we would actually get a verdict for four or five more years in the future. I am fully aware of my duties and it is to bring justice – in this case the fastest route to justice is in Florida, not California. And, unlike Mr Darby when dismissing a robbery case for a plea in another separate case with a separate victim in the middle of trial, I actually met with the families of our victims and we discussed all possible options.

  3. I am not impressed with Mr. Ward any more than I was with Mr. Cline, the DA prior to him. Ward was extremely slow coming in and getting involved with our TRMC debacle (only when it looked like it could be politically advantageous did he finally come on board). He like so many others do not investigate to “find” the truth no matter where that takes them, they look only want to support their cases even if it means to suppress certain facts and truths. In fact this tendency is so blatant here in Tulare County many judges become complicit right along with them. They are all part of the judicial clubhouse …. prosecutors, public defenders, and judges alike….go up against them at your peril for united they stand together. Want a good lawyer who won’t be afraid to stand up and fight for you in spite of possibly angering the judge and his DA sidekick……hire one from another county.

  4. That baby case mentioned by a commenter above is the Bryan Hvass case. Mr. Hvass physically abused a baby to the point of being comatose.

    The prosecution’s offer was initially for Mr. Hvass to enter a guilty plea for a sentence between 10 – 20 years.

    Later down the line, Mr. Hvass switched to an attorney who had made a sizeable donation to Tim Ward.

    After that happened, the 10 – 20 year offer became an open plea offer, which resulted in Mr. Hvass getting only three years. With custody credits, his actual time served was a lot less than that.

    A few months after Mr. Hvass pled guilty to his new offer, the baby eventually died from the injuries he inflicted.

    Had Mr. Hvass not gotten that new deal, the case would likely not have resolved as soon as it did, and the child abuse charge against him would have turned into a child homicide charge.

    • Alex, Rachel,

      In that case didn’t Hvass plead and the judge gave him 8 years while the prosecuting attorney argued for more time?

      Alex by your analysis are you insinuating that the judge was corrupt along with the district attorney and defense attorney?

      Wait…hold on a minute isn’t this the case where Matt Darby’s family wrote letters of support for the defendant and talked about his great character?

      I think its time for the Valley Voice to get one of those freedom of information requests and get those letters of support, or can we just get from the public court records?

      Would be good to know what they said about this horrible defendant as it definitely would show this family’s inability to accurately judge character.

      Certainly shows Darby wouldn’t have done better and probably helped the judge give a lighter sentence.

    • Since you bring up the case and I was asked about this specifically elsewhere I checked on the Hvass file. The first thing I looked at was the 8 page statement on aggravation filed by our office asking the court for a 12 year prison sentence.

      Next I noticed two specific errors in the information you stated: 1) defendant was sentenced by the court to eight years in prison where he still resides (you can confirm using the CDC-R inmate locator website and his name) not the three years you claim; and 2) the defense attorney you mentioned was on the case from the outset.

      Also, though mentioned, you do not clearly state it, the second attorney was in Court representing the interests of the victim, which by law in this case was the mother. The mother expressed that she did not believe we should be asking for prison time at all.

      I also reviewed the plea and sentencing transcripts along with the statement in mitigation filed by the defense attorney with the court and noted more than 60 community members wrote letters of support for the defendant Mr Hvass, two of those letters came from Mr Darby’s family, which asked for a suspended sentence and probation.

      The court did not give the twelve year sentence our office requested, specifically mentioning the support the defendant received from family and the community when sentencing sentencing the defendant to eight years in prison, a community that included Mr Darby’s family.

      Anyone who has personal knowledge of this case would at least know the defendant was sentenced to eight years in prison where he still sits. It seems fair to say that Darby supporters are being intentionally fed false facts for a reason since I have seen this case mentioned in at least three locations in the last couple of days.

  5. Dear Mr. Alavezos:

    For several weeks now, I have watched and read your public attempts to support your “boss” in his campaign against Matt Darby by attempting to cast doubt on Matt’s qualifications, experience, and most recently his character, and thereby your seeking to highlight your boss’ credentials as diametrically opposed and therefore more appropriate for the position of District Attorney.

    Amongst your efforts, you have highlighted your boss’ experience as an Army officer used to making command-level decisions.  I submit that any good Army officer knows he is responsible not only for his own decisions, but also for the decisions and effectiveness of those under his command.  Since you work in your boss’ chain of command at the DA’s office, I would submit that your boss has in fact demonstrated he is unfit to lead a tight ship, that he has an inability to control those in his command and that he has demonstrated an unwillingness to ensure that his people are aware of or encouraged to think critically on the whole cannon of laws they should be cognizant of.

    In your letter, there are multiple instances of your slamming Matt, including your all but written in a fairy’s blood slamming of
    Matt’s ethics.  And I quote from your article:  “Since he has mentioned that he left the office “for ethical reasons” I think it is fair to consider exactly what those reasons actually were.”  You offer no details of what those reasons actually were.  Why did you not tell people that Matt left your office because he has the highest ethics and chose not to compromise them further under your boss’ leadership?  Please tell everyone how Matt refused to sign a letter of endorsement for your boss during Ward’s previous campaign for public office and how as a result Matt was marginalized in retaliation.  We should all be saluting a man like Matt who has the cojones to stand up to that kind of political pressure, created under your boss’ “leadership”, and who ultimately chose to do the right thing by leaving rather than compromising his ethics.

    Another sign of Ward’s failure to lead can be seen in your continued efforts to slam Matt, while you consistantly demonstrate your own ignorance of the law.  You might have decades of experience and be currently the Special Prosecutions Assistant DA, but you have a marked ignorance of basic Law School 101 Civil Law.  In publicly seeking to cast unfounded doubt on Matt’s character, you are libeling him.  In California, the doctrine of libel per se goes back at least to Tonini v. Cevasco, an established doctrine over 100 years old.  Again, Law School 101.

    If you want to take this another round, let’s go.  I’ll be ready.  We can talk about how your boss’ failure to lead includes a failure of character.  HIS large campaign donations came from a man who ran Tulare’s hospital into the ground and thereby increased the burden on Tulare County’s emergency infrastructure, on Tulare County residents who must now travel greater distance & wait longer times for EMERGENCY services.  Matt may have substantial campaign donations, but instead of trying to cast aspersions on his character by saying his largest came “from one particular business address”, you would have been wiser to prove it came from a source at least half as negative as your boss’.  But you can’t, can you?

    This could go on and on.  So when was that letter of endorsement from Ward’s Supervising Attorneys circulated?  Was it on taxpayer time, using taxpayer money?  Were all signatures contributed willingly and free of duress?  Naughty!  Naughty!

    If your boss is the leader you claim him to be, he should muzzle you, tell you to re-read CA Civ. Code § 45, maybe even throw in CACI 1700 on defamation per se.  Otherwise, your trying to turn the reputation of an honorable man negative only reflects poorly on his challenger under whose “leadership” you operate.

    I am voting for Matt Darby for District Attorney.  Tulare County deserves better than Timmy’s failure to lead.

    • “If you want to take this to another round, let’s go”???

      I am fairly certain you have heard the phrase “the truth is an absolute defense”. And if you are a logical person you would have to agree that a reputation is based on information which is not always either accurate or complete. I have observed statements by the challenger and his supporters that are inaccurate and/or incomplete.

      You will notice my posts are not filled with name calling and instead detail facts, some of which allow for logical inferences such as why the challenger may have left the office.

      – It is a fact that the challenger has never been a Supervising Attorney, Program Coordinator or Assistant District Attorney at Tulare Co or in his current place of employment
      – It is a fact that his bio posted by the “Tulare County Republican Women Federated Facebook page” follows his progression through the office and ends with a statement that he was assigned as the “Violence Against Women Homicide Prosecutor” (detailing five cases he prosecuted while assigned to that position, the last being the case he took a plea in which resulted in his dismissal of the robbery case).
      – It is a fact that this assignment progression track stops and is immediately followed by his statement that he joined Kings Co in 2015
      – It is a fact that he was not the domestic violence homicide prosecutor when he left Tulare Co, and that he never took a murder case to trial in Tulare Co though assigned to a homicide position for sixteen months
      – It is a fact that he dismissed a robbery case without discussing with the robbery victim prior to the plea in a case he was in trial on, and without consulting with the assistant district attorney. This is both a violation of office policy and disrespectful to the victim.
      – It is a fact he was reassigned from 187 DV prosecutor to general felonies following his action of dismissing the robbery case
      – It is a fact that he resigned from the office weeks after reassignment
      – It is a fact that I prosecuted the murder case he was supposed to start on the Monday following his last day in our office
      – It is a fact that case was not prepared for trial, something he fully knows and, at one time, was embarrassed about and apologized over
      – It is a fact that his page requested donations in the amounts of $5 or $10
      – It is a fact that he and his supporters claim big money donations influence investigation and prosecution decisions.
      – It is a fact that he has two donations totaling $15,000 from two separate business entities that share the same address
      – It is a fact that $15,000 is magnitudes higher than $10
      – It is a fact that I personally told deputies they do not have to sign letters of support and it would not hurt their future with the office if they did not sign such a document (I know at least one current supervisor who was promoted after the election though she did not sign an endorsement letter at the time)
      – It is a fact that contested elections in a DA Office where all attorneys are “at will” are stressful for line deputies who worry what will happen to them if their boss loses his or her job

      I know well what can happen to a Deputy DA should an elected DA lose an election. I moved to Tulare County 19 years ago after my former boss lost an election to a man who spent time in federal prison following a conviction for failure to pay his taxes. I supported my former boss publicly, pointing out that a person who is paid out of tax monies should at least pay their taxes; and, that the elected DA should not have spent more time in custody than most defendants who he would be prosecuting if he won. He won and demanded a letter of resignation four days after taking office. I was offered a job with Tulare Co later that same day and was very thankful. I would never pressure anyone to publicly support an elected since I know what the cost of that support can be, but I do not regret the support I gave my former boss and I will continue to support Tim Ward as he is a proven leader who I know has made difficult but correct decisions.

      P.S. – As for your inference that tax payer money and pressure was exerted on the supervisors in the last election, of which I was one, I can state that no tax payer money was spent, I signed it on my own time, and I was more than willing since I knew both candidates very well, and then as in this situation, Tim Ward was and is the only reasonable choice.

      • The Tulare County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has endorsed Sheriff Mike Boudreaux for Sheriff.

        The Tulare County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has endorsed Matt Darby for District Attorney.

        The Tulare County Deputy Sheriff’s Association chose not to endorse Tim Ward.

        It says a lot when several hundred brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day they put on their bulletproof vests and strap on their holsters decide that NO, Tim Ward is NOT the right person to serve the needs of justice in Tulare County.

        • The Visalia Police Department endorses Tim Ward.

          The Police Chief’s endorse Tim Ward. This organization includes Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and works with Tim on a daily basis. This organization also clearly understands the importance of leadership training and experience. They know who has the training and experience and who does not.

          The DSA is an organization of 500 and about ten percent voted.

          I am fairly certain that the people who voted in the DSA were not thinking about the lack of experience when voting, nor about Darby’s clear failure to understand where prosecutorial priorities should fall in terms of gangs and major narc prosecutions.

          • *Visalia Police Officer’s Association and the Visalia Police Chief by virtue of his membership in the police chief Association both support Mr. Ward.

          • Wow! What a kind, logical man you are to slam the DSA and their ability to think clearly and rationally. As long as you are citing statistics, why not be above board and cite how few voted at the VPOA meeting?

  6. Last person in the world I would vote for is Tim Ward: served on too many juries his “well run” dept has screwed up, friends with the parents of a wrongly accused person the the big front page “Human Trafficking” event that at no time did his office say oops made a mistake, now this attack on Mr. Darby, oh and then there wa the “surpise” visit to gather info at TRMC that Benny the Sleave was forwarned about. So who is unfit for this office?

  7. Alex, Rachel,

    In that case didn’t Hvass plead and the judge gave him 8 years while the prosecuting attorney argued for more time?

    Alex by your analysis are you insinuating that the judge was corrupt along with the district attorney and defense attorney?

    Wait…hold on a minute isn’t this the case where Matt Darby’s family wrote letters of support for the defendant and talked about his great character?

    I think its time for the Valley Voice to get one of those freedom of information requests and get those letters of support, or can we just get from the public court records?

    Would be good to know what they said about this horrible defendant as it definitely would show this family’s inability to accurately judge character.

    Certainly shows Darby wouldn’t have done better and probably helped the judge give a lighter sentence.

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