'Did You Know...?'
Issue 11, 2016
Welcome to the eleventh (and final) edition of our 'Did You Know...?' newsletter for 2016. 
DA O'Malley Wishes You a Happy New Year

A message from District Attorney Nancy O'Malley in honor of the New Year:

As 2016 comes to a close, I am proud to have served another year as your District Attorney, working alongside our dedicated and incredibly talented staff. 

In 2016, we remained steadfast in out commitment to ensuring that justice is served on behalf of crime victims and our communities. Our staff of attorneys, inspectors and administrative professionals handled an extraordinarily heavy workload. We reviewed thousands of cases referred to our branch offices for charging, handled a huge number of legal motions, and successfully tried to verdict hundreds of felony and misdemeanor jury trials.

We raised awareness about trafficking in the Bay Area during January's Human Trafficking Awarness Month, the rights of victims during Crime Victims' Rights Week in April, and capped off Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October with our Annual Day of Remembrance. The Department of Justice also recognized our efforts to combat human trafficking - both sex trafficking of minors as well as labor trafficking - in Alameda County and beyond. The HEAT Institute completed a series of seven hearings around the state to understand how communities are responding to human trafficking, and is currently preparing a report on the state of trafficking around California and developing potential solutions. I spoke out against gun violence in our nation and also sat down and had a meaningful conversation about guns with US Congressman Eric Swalwell and Scottish MP Patrick Grady.

The year ended with unbelievable tragedy as 36 people lost their lives in a warehouse fire on 31st Avenue in Oakland. As we write this, a team comprised of attorneys, investigators, and victim-witness advocates is deeply involved in investigation and working with victims and their families.   

Our Victim-Witness Assistance Divison has worked incredibly hard over the past year providing support and vital services to victims of crime and their families. The Advocates and Claims Consultants from the division responded immediately to the needs of the families of those who perished in the fire and the survivors of this tragic event. I am proud of the work they have done this year to support those in our community who are experiencing the worst days of their lives. The Victim-Witness Division is a key part of our office's commitment to serving our community.

The Alameda County Family Justice Center has also proudly served victims of crime and their families in 2016. The Center has provided a safe space for families to seek services from over 30 community partners onsite (and 50 offsite) to help them rebuild their lives. 

The ACFJC's STEP-UP empowerment program for women has expanded to help victims learn financial numeracy, personal development, and job seeking and presentation skills. The ACFJC sent another two groups of eager young kids (some of whom have never left the city) off to Camp Hope over the summer where they participated in activities and bonded with each other. In Natalie's Nook, we also held many Read 1-2-3 classes to help mothers and their children under 5 to find joy in learning to read and to expose the kids to thousands of new words. 

In mid-December, children who had visited the ACFJC's KidZone throughout the year were invited back for a special holiday celebration, where they took family photos, decorated holiday cookies, and left with a special gift.

The administrative professionals in our office shone brightly as they performed a plethora of duties to assist the public and support the functions of the office. Their professionalism and commitment to serving our community has been exceptional.

2016 was also a significant year for us in terms of our legislative efforts. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law numerous public safety bills that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office sponsored, authored, and supported. Anong others, we sponsored AB 420 to amend the Penal Code to create specific distinctions between purchasers of commercial sex from adults, purchasers of sex from minors, and adults offering to engage in sex with a purchaser; SB 1064 makes permanent a pilot project that helps sexually exploited minors in Alameda County; and AB 2499 will give a victim of sexual assault the ability to track the process of their sexual assault kit (SAK) while it is being analyzed and processed in the crime lab, via a secure, electronic process. 

Other legislation that we supported included AB 2498 allowing victims of human trafficking to shield their names, addresses, and images (and those of their immediate family members) from public records, as well as allowing judges to hear trafficking cases earlier on their court calendar; AB 1276 permits young victims of human trafficking to testify in criminal proceedings against their perpetrators via closed-circuit television; SB 465 was also passed, increasing, oversight in building construction, a bill that was drafted folowing the Berkeley Balcony tragedy in 2015.

I also continued my commitment to reducing the backlog of sexual assault kits, by drafting legislation, advocating in Washington DC for further funds for communities all around the nation, and speaking to conferences and groups about the lessons we learned tackled the backlog in Alameda County. We have tested all of the kits that still fell within the statute of limitations and are continuing to test all kits as fast as our lab can process them. 

Our Consumer and Environmental Division has also had a stellar year, with some highlights being a $14M settlement with BP for storage tank violations, a $9.86M settlement with O'Reilly Auto Parts for mishandling hazardous waste, an $8.5M settlement with Wells Fargo for privacy violations, and another over $1M against My Pillow for false advertising.

In repsonse to the uptick in hate crimes and hate-related rhetoric in November, my office established a Hate Crimes Hotline with messages in six languages. We have asked any person who has been victimized or who has witnessed any victimization to report the conduct to us on (510) 208-4824 and we will investigate. 

Members of my staff and I have presented at conferences, spoken to hundreds of schools and community groups, and given numerous Senior Safety presentations. We particpated in the Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics of Northern Califiornia, volunteered at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, in the National Night Out event, Labor Week events, and also supported the County's Blood Drive.

We graduated our fifth cohort from our DA Justice Academy and can proudly boast 100% of our graduates attend college. We received the Best of California Award for our Map 1193 anti-human trafficking web app. Personally, I was also honored to receive the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association, the Ruby Award from Soroptimists International, and the Boys and Girls Club Chairman's Advocate Champion Award. 

As we look toward 2017, our work continues to keep our neighbourhoods safe and thriving. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year for 2017. May it be a successful, productive, and safe. 

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If you would like to see a particular question answered in our next newsletter, please email us at  info@alcoda.org
Quick Links

Alameda County DA's Office website
View up-to-date news and information about the office at our website.

Alameda County Family Justice Center (ACFJC) website
The ACFJC is a 1-stop location that provides victims of crime with legal, health, and support services, and the opportunity for physical and psychological safety, recovery and well-being.

HEAT Watch is the anti-human trafficking program run by the DA's Office. It coordinates the response to help fight trafficking in the Bay Area and beyond. 

Point of View
The well-known legal educational tool written and published by the DA's Office.

Find out when the next court date is for a particular case. Available 24/7. 

Find out the custody status of a person of interest. Available 24/7.

We provide speakers for your next school or community meeting who come to you with decades of expertise about the law, the criminal justice system and how we at the DA's Office can help you if you have been the victim of a crime. 
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