Mistake by City Attorney's Office Missed Deadline on Dozens of Cases

Dozens of cases were not prosecuted by the San Diego City Attorney's Office because a deputy attorney missed the deadline to file charges. 

According to a memo released Wednesday by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, 19 of the 98 cases could have been issued.

Click here to read a December memo to Assistant City Attorney John Hemmerling discussing the cases.

They included 15 misdemeanor domestic violence cases, two indecent exposure cases (one of which had no victim), one case of a sex offender who didnt register on time, and one case of theft from an elder.

Goldsmith says his office checked to see if suspects were involved in other new crimes, none were.

Goldsmith says the office was able to file charges in four cases. Three of the four resulted in guilty pleas, the other an arrest warrant.

Through the California Public Records Act, NBC 7 Investigates learned, the charges included assault with a deadly weapon, willful infliction of corporal injury, failure to register as a sex offender, battery and false imprisonment.

In the memo Goldsmith said, in part, "there is no justification for what happened in this situation. it is inexcusable to allow the statute of limitation to expire, as it did in these cases."

Click here to read the memo.

Top prosecutors Miriam Milstein and the former head of the criminal division Marlea Dell' Anno left the City Attorney's office late last year, according to several City Hall sources.

NBC7 has been asking questions about Dell'Anno's departure since November, but the request for information has been denied citing personnel exemptions.

"Under the law, there's some right of privacy and personnel issues so we have to respect that but this is different because it also has an element of how this public office is running so I'm not going to name folks that were involved but I am going to explain what we found and how we operate our office," Goldsmith said.

NBC7 spoke with Attorney Chris Morris who ran the Criminal division immediately before Dell'Anno.

"It never should have happened under Goldsmith's watch, at all. I know that he's been more focused on the civil side of things, but you can't just let the criminal side run on its own," Morris said. "He has to be more involved in the day-to-day operations of the criminal operation. What's even more troubling though is when this came to light, he had no idea and they kept it from him? That to me shows a real lack of internal controls."

Goldsmith said he was "outraged" over the ordeal.

Click here to see data on how often charges are filed by the City Attorney's Office in domestic violence cases.

"I was very upset and outraged when I saw it," he said. "We took steps forthright and we dealt with it. I know the public's just learning of it, but we dealt with it in November."

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