Morning Report: City Attorney Prosecuting Fewer Domestic Violence Cases

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Morning Report: City Attorney Prosecuting Fewer Domestic Violence Cases

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott speaks at the 2019 San Diego Women’s March at Waterfront Park. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

As victims of domestic violence find themselves in circumstances made more dire by the coronavirus pandemic, the San Diego city attorney is prosecuting fewer and fewer of their cases. 

Voice of San Diego’s Ashly McGlone dove into the data, and found domestic violence prosecutions dropped 15 percent between 2019 and 2020, though the number of cases actually reported only dropped by about 13 percent. Monthly prosecutions of the last decade were at its highest in 2015, preceding City Attorney Mara Elliott’s tenure, when the office tackled 94 per month.

This decline comes at a time when victim support centers are seeing a surge in calls. The impacts of COVID-19, like isolation and job loss, make it that much harder for victims to leave abusive relationships.

Elliott’s office said part of the reason is there are hundreds of cases still pending review, and prosecutors have one to five years to actually file charges on the crime. Another reason, a spokeswoman for Elliott claimed, is it’s become harder to secure convictions because juries are asking for video evidence of the crime to turn a guilty verdict more than before.

It raises the degree of difficulty in securing a conviction, a factor that we must consider when deciding whether to prosecute in the first place,” Nemchik said. 

But some local lawyers and advocates dispute that reasoning. 

“Sounds like an excuse for not pursuing enough cases,” said San Diego trial lawyer Dan Gilleon, who primarily represents victims of sex assault and gender violence.

San Diego Woman Killed at U.S. Capitol, S.D. Delegation Reacts to Siege

Wednesday was, to put it mildly, a shocking, intense, unprecedented day in national news.

Several members of San Diego’s congressional delegation were evacuated from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, the Union-Tribune reported. Images from people on the ground in Washington, D.C., showed Trump supporters breaking windows and storming the hallways of the federal government to stop the official count of the 2020 presidential election. One man carried a Confederate battle flag

Rep. Mike Levin tweeted that he was sheltering in place “due to multiple threats from suspicious packages.” In an interview with CBS 8, Rep. Juan Vargas said he advised his staff to prepare for a physical confrontation.  

“We’ve got the flags that we can use for protection,” he said. “They have a point at the top. We have sticks. And if they break in, we’re gonna fight.” 

New Rep. Sara Jacobs called for the House to impeach President Donald Trump and encouraged Vice President Mike Pence to immediately invoke the 25th Amendment and, with the collaboration of the cabinet members, remove Trump from office.

San Diegan reported dead: KUSI reported that the woman killed inside the Capitol was from the San Diego area. Her husband told the station she was a veteran and strong supporter of President Donald Trump.

The Union-Tribune was not able to fully confirm it but spoke with a family member who was convinced it was her.

The voting: Vargas, Levin, Jacobs and Rep. Scott Peters all voted against objections to electoral votes for president submitted by the state of Arizona. But Rep. Darrell Issa voted to throw out the votes for President-elect Joe Biden from Arizona.

The scene in San Diego was non-eventful. More than 100 Trump supporters rallied outside the County Administrative Building on North Harbor Drive, waving flags at traffic. Barely anyone had masks on. They dispersed without any known issues. 

Trump supporters protest the result of the presidential election in front of the San Diego County Administration Center. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

There were also protests in Carlsbad and Santee, NBC 7 reports. 

We’re Not Sure How Many Vaccines San Diego Has

The county of San Diego, the lead on the region’s COVID-19 response, isn’t quite sure how many vaccines are out there at the moment. 

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday that vaccines are sent to all kinds of agencies besides the county, like the VA hospital, Department of Defense and Kaiser Permenante, one of the largest private health care providers in the nation. 

“To my knowledge, we’ve probably got over 100,000 but we’re not completely sure because so many entities are trying to tie that information into a common reporting system,” Fletcher said.

That’s because pharmacists have 14 days to enter a vaccination into their reporting system.

Fletcher said he thinks well over 50,000 people have been vaccinated already in the county. So far, only those listed in the first phase of a three-phase vaccination rollout are receiving them, which mostly includes those at highest risk like health care workers and elderly residents living in long-term care facilities. 

The second phase, which has no announced start date yet, will include people 75 years or older, childcare and education workers and older workers in different sectors of the economy like transportation. 

Fletcher said individuals may have access to a vaccine now but they should contact their regular health care provider to find out. 

And here are the latest numbers …

San Diego County public health officials say there’s 3,815 new COVID-19 infections as of Wednesday and, again, a record number of hospitalizations, according to Fox 5. What or who is to blame? Officials point to people defying public health orders and gathering over the holidays, especially for the spread of the new coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7. that was first found in the United Kingdom.

Fletcher said we’re likely to see those numbers rise in the coming weeks as the true outfall from the holiday reveals itself.

North County Parent Group Pushes Reopenings

A new parent group is forming in North County amid tensions over school reopening plans. Its leaders are upset, Kayla Jimenez reports, that their families still don’t have the choice to return to in-person learning and they’ve blamed teachers’ unions for putting their own needs over the needs of children.

Last month, the San Dieguito Union School District in Encinitas backtracked on its plan to fully reopen in January, according to KPBS. In the meantime, administrators are looking for ways to increase student access to campus to finish out the current quarter.

Also in the North County Report: Restaurants and small business owners continue to defy state closure orders. Some have vowed to stay open even if their city opts for more strict enforcement. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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