Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
On Tuesday evening over 115 members of the community gathered in the Floral Room of the Del Norte county
Fairgrounds to hear the candidates running for District Attorney and Superior Court Judge state their respective cases.
After the pledge of allegiance and a short prayer Paul McAndrews of the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) read the rules of the forum
stating the structure and respective time limits for each portion to promote fairness.

Attending were Supervisors Roger Gitlin and Gerry Hemmingsen, Superior Court Judge: William H. Follett,
Harbor Commission President Scott Feller, Sheriff Dean Wilson, along with the three Superior court candidates, Judge Chris Doehle,
Attorney Dohn Henion, Attorney Darren McElfresh, along with several civic leaders.
Each candidate was afforded a 3 min opening statement, followed by 3 questions from the TPP and then 3 questions
from the audience.  The questions from the audience picked at random came from 3X5 cards.  Each candidate was allowed
to ask one question of their opponents then each was given a 2 minute closing statement. Each candidate also had a table with
literature where they greeted with  members of the public afterwards.
Running for District Attorney are the current DA Dale P.Trigg, and running against him Attorney Robert (Bob) Drossel.
During their respective 3 minute opening remarks each gave and informative talk about where they come from, family history,
personal and professional background.  Each emphasized their professional accomplishments and personal philosophies or perspectives
about the office there were in or running for.

Specific questions or subjects included if there was a priority towards their service, how they might improve the communication  or
connection between the court and law enforcement as well how they would increase the effectiveness and efficiency of ‘the office of
the District Attorney’.  The DA’s primary partners in the legal process include the police, sheriff, CHP, State and National Parks, Fire Department
but they also represent the city, county, private and commercial community.  Questions from the audience covered areas from fraud, and petty theft to civil criminal issues of child protection not to exclude domestic violence.

Other topics covered were plea bargains (also known as soft deals) often used to take into account jail over crowding and staff shortages, however both candidates pointed to every attempt to keep them to a minimum, as prescribed by law.  In closing remarks Mr. Trigg pointed out his experience
is currently being used and demonstrated in the job he is currently performing.  Mr. Drossel directed to his many years in multiple positions as
a DA, assistant DA, DA consultant and full spectrum trial lawyer.

Next up were the 3 candidates for superior court judge.  Current Judge Chris Doehly who was appointed by the State upon the retirement of Judge
Robert Wier in 2012 began pointing out how the rigorous qualification process works prior to the ability to apply to run
for a judgeship.  In her brief service she has received several notable endorsements from fellow judges and law enforcement.

Attorney Darren McElfresh spoke of a wide spectrum of jury trials, bench trials in both civil and criminal cases. He has been a past president of the Del Norte County Bar Association a member of the DN County Law Library, and enjoys endorsements from the Crescent City Police officer Association and the Del Norte county Sheriff’s Employee Association.

Attorney Dohn Henion  told of his 33 years as a trial lawyer with a majority being an attorney for the city of Crescent City, the county of Del Norte, the Solid Waste Management Authority and the Harbor, in addition to his private practice which includes many Federal prosecution cases.

Q: Explain the relevance of the Constitution in the Superior Court.
Doehly: Both national and state constitutions, by oath of office, must be observed. They are at the core of all duties as a judge.
McElfresh: (Affirmed) and added the importance of the 10th amendment to also be aware of making the distinction to the separation between
                   National and State constitutions.
Henion: Compared the respective constitutions to the Bible in that they are both for guidance in a larger picture with discussions from our ‘founding
Fathers,  the Federalist Papers, and the unwritten ‘spirit of the law’

Q: Give your perspective on habitual offenders.
McElfresh:  Giving a first hand account of experience he stated his dealing would be appropriate to the crime and individual.
Henion:  A judge can be influential and by effective for the individual and the crime if they are ‘allowed to’ by the prosecution.
Doehly: There are two types, and upper and lower offender both of which face a plea bargain process which can be directed by obligation
             or towards corrective reform. Each case is different.

Several other questions were asked including search warrants, positions on the death penalty, juvenile offenders, soft  sentencing, and
their individual ‘philosophy’ of the law.  When it came for each candidate to ask questions of the other candidates Darren McElfresh set the tone saying
“I will not engage in gotcha politics” so decline to participate.  The remaining candidates followed suit.

In the 2 min statements Judge Doehly recommended people come to court and see her in action. Ask Law Enforcement as well as others about
her performance.  Mr McElfresh also recommended to explore his press in the Triplicate, and to query law enforcement individuals.  Mr. Henion, concluded the round with, his long and consistent experience for the multiple agencies he’s represented speaks for itself.

The meeting was video taped by the TPP and will be available online soon via the TPP website/youtube.  The next forum will be May 10th followed by the Sheriff’s forum on May 13th at 6 PM, Floral Room at the Fairgrounds.
Jaime Yarbrough
Crescent City, Calif.

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