Merritt To Vie Against DA Ramos

(October 4) Citing what he said was an unacceptable increase in serious crime throughout the county and a lackluster effort to prosecute its perpetrators, deputy district attorney Grover Merritt said this week he will challenge his boss, incumbent district attorney Mike Ramos, in the 2014 election.
Merritt, who was the head of the district attorney’s office’s appellate unit under former district attorney Dennis Stout and continued in that capacity under Ramos for two years, said office morale has plummeted during Ramos’ tenure as a consequence of his lack of aggressive leadership, inattentiveness and womanizing. Merritt charged his boss with having made decisions based on politics rather than the merit of the cases that come before the office. He further alleged that prosecutors under Ramos have become too dependent on plea bargaining as opposed to working cases toward trial.
Merritt referenced the latest FBI uniform crime report that pegged a 56 percent increase in the number of homicides in the city of San Bernardino, the county seat, in 2012 over 2011, accompanied by a 24 percent jump in property crimes. Crime in the county’s East Valley in particular is on the rise, he said. Merritt vowed to deal with criminals ruthlessly in court once they are caught.
He said he will either judiciously utilize or  eliminate entirely  specialized units that Ramos created for public relations purposes, such as the public integrity unit, the human trafficking unit and the crimes against peace officers unit. He will emphasize nuts and bolts prosecutions of everyday, garden variety criminals, he said, rather than make efforts to generate newspaper headlines.
He lambasted Ramos for carrying on with many of the office’s female employees, which he referred to as “beneath the dignity of this office. I will see to the elimination of the weekly recounting of the district attorney’s latest sexcapades as the center of attention among office employees. This alone will lift the esprit de corps. His nuclear strength womanizing is an inhibiting factor on the strong woman working in our office who are given to understand they have to give something to get a supervisory position in the office.”
He also tore into Ramos for a “distinct absence of leadership” with regard to the closing of the Needles, Barstow and Chino courthouses.
“There was not a peep of protest from him over the closing of the courthouses at the far reaches of the county. He did not speak up for the citizens there who now have to travel long distances to get justice.”
After Ramos defeated former district attorney Dennis Stout in 2002, rumors began to circulate that Merritt would challenge Ramos in 2006. Ramos precluded that, however, when he accused Merritt of leaking information relating to two criminal cases, one involving former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell’s retention of firearms from the sheriff’s department’s evidence lockers and another involving torture murders by career criminal Jimmy Kelley in Yucca Valley. Ramos fired Merritt, who contested the sacking, proving in a hearing before a civil service commissioner that it was Ramos’ political ally, assistant district attorney Mike Risley, who had actually leaked the information as part of a scheme to destroy Merritt’s status, credibility and political viability. Merritt was returned to the office with back pay and provided with a $297,500 settlement of his suit for wrongful termination.
Ramos, who was previously under consideration by the Republican Party as a possible replacement for now retired Congressman Jerry Lewis, more recently sought a judgeship appointment from Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, but was turned down. He announced last month he would run for district attorney once more and has picked up the endorsement of Congressman Paul Cook, state senator  Bill Emmerson, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, assistant district attorney Michael Fermin and San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy,  as well as the Ontario and Upland police officer associations.

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