New District Attorney’s Office organization puts lawyers back in courtrooms, streamlines operations and offers new services to serve vulnerable victims through new prosecuting unit and expanded victim services
San Francisco, CA –Today, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins the new streamlined organization of the District Attorney’s office that puts experienced prosecutors back in the courtroom while adding new resources and services for vulnerable victims. The new office organization reduces the number of direct reports to the District Attorney to ensure that prosecutors are handling cases and not in administrative roles. The District Attorney also announced a new Major Crimes Team within the General Felonies division and a new Post-Conviction Review Unit to more efficiently handle all post-conviction matters. To better serve vulnerable victims, the District Attorney has also created a new Vulnerable Victims Unit within the criminal prosecutions division to provide more dedicated resources to prosecute crimes targeting vulnerable victims and expanded services for vulnerable victims within the Victims Services Division. The District Attorney Office’s new management team brings over 100 years of combined prosecutorial experience.
“Since day one, I have been laser focused on uniting our office around our mission to promote accountability and public safety while advancing smart reforms that will make our criminal justice system more fair and just,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “Our new organizational structure furthers our office’s mission and will streamline operations to better serve victims and hold offenders accountable by breaking down silos between divisions and units to create stronger collaboration. These changes will help to address high caseloads, inefficiencies, and will assist in serving our victims at a higher level. We have made tremendous progress as a team, and these changes will help accelerate the change we desperately need to see and feel in San Francisco.”
Reporting to the District Attorney will be the Chief Assistant who will oversee the criminal divisions (as well as Collaborative Justice, Organizational Management and Training and Victim Services), the Chief of Communication and Policy, Chief of Administration and Finance and Independent Investigations Bureau.
The new Major Crimes Team will focus on more serious and complex felony crimes like some armed robbery, and attempted murder cases which are time consuming and more complicated. These cases will benefit from having an attorney assigned from the date of arraignment instead of going through different attorneys when transferring from preliminary hearing to trial setting. More experienced and senior prosecutors are now assigned to the Major Crimes Team. Caseloads will be shifted as needed, to create more efficiencies allowing other prosecutors within General Felonies to spend more time on existing cases.
The new Post-Conviction Review Unit will be led by Julia Cervantes who brings over a decade of prosecutorial experience to the role. She will oversee motions for resentencing brought by both the People and the Defense. The new organization streamlines post-conviction review matters, reducing duplication of effort and ensuring that staff can adequately meet expectations and better serve public safety and victims of crime.
The new Vulnerable Victims Unit (VVU), led by Chief Nancy Tung, will oversee prosecutions of crimes perpetrated against vulnerable victims and will house prosecutions of hate crimes, cases of violence against the elderly and elder financial abuse and may expand over time. Chief Tung is an experienced prosecutor who has handled domestic violence cases, as well as, fraud, embezzlement, and police misconduct. The new unit that she leads is dedicated to protecting and supporting vulnerable communities throughout San Francisco. The Vulnerable Victims Unit will be composed of prosecutors who have experience in conducting sensitive and complex investigations and prosecutions. The prosecutors in this unit are trained to ensure the law is uniformly and fairly applied, and well versed in the legal nuances of cases that have broader implications for the community. Cases from the general felonies division were transferred to the new unit to ensure that they are given the attention that these serious crimes deserve.
The Victim Services Division (VSD), led by Chief Monifa Willis, has expanded support services to better serve crime victims and their families, while ensuring the rights of victims are protected. Chief Willis is a mental health expert that brings decades of clinical experience of working with people of all backgrounds impacted by crime and violence. The Victim Service Division provides support and assistance to crime victims and their families in the aftermath of a crime, during criminal prosecution, and after a verdict has been reached. Victim Services also provides specialized services for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, as well as women, children, and people with immigration issues. The Victim Services Division has added a new Vulnerable Victims and Community Engagement Unit to provide specialized services for vulnerable victims.
The new Vulnerable Victims and Community Engagement unit within the Victim Services Division will be led by Dr. Paul Lam who will ensure that all vulnerable and underserved victims will have a trained advocate that facilitates communication and coordination with other government agencies and victim advocacy organizations, links victims with local resources, provides case updates, and offers support during court hearings and testimony. Dr. Lam will also oversee community engagement, language capacity, and specialized trainings to victims that are often unseen. Crime victims will be assigned to the appropriate unit based on crime type and matched with an advocate that is culturally appropriate. The team includes Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin speakers as well as several other languages. Additional language capacity will be supported through a new partnership with a vendor that can provide video translation services in 41 languages. In FY 2021 and FY 2022 the greatest language needs for victims were Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin. Spanish needs grew from 860 cases in FY 21 to 869 in FY 22 while Cantonese grew from 198 to 267 and Mandarin grew from 28 to 42.
The new organization chart is available on the District Attorney’s website here: Organizational Chart