San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos received from his law enforcement peers one of the most pestigious honors that can be bestowed upon prosecutors when on July 18 he was sworn in as president of the National District Attorneys Association.
Ramos, who has been San Bernardino County district attorney since 2003, was officially elevated to the post at a ceremony held in Boston, Massachusetts, at which he was sworn in by his predecessor, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
The event took place during National District Attorneys Association’s 2016 Summer Conference and National Victims’ Rights Summit.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was the keynote speaker at the “Passing of the Gavel” ceremony, while former National District Attorneys Association President Fitzpatrick administered the oath of office to Ramos.
In his inaugural speech, Ramos promised to continue working cooperatively with all local, state and federal partners in the law and justice community and to help further develop the functions and valuable services NDAA has to offer.
“I am honored to have earned the support of my colleagues and given the opportunity to represent the thousands of elected District Attorneys across our great nation,” Ramos said. “My intent is to work with my fellow District Attorneys and utilize this position to continue to fight for justice and victims’ rights at a national level.”
Ramos’ previous leadership roles for the organization have included vice president and current co-chair of the National District Attorneys Association’s Training and Education Committee.
Ramos is currently serving his fourth term as District Attorney of San Bernardino County, California. He has served as president of the California District Attorneys Association, and he is currently one of three members appointed by the Governor to the California Victim Compensation Board.
The National District Attorneys Association, whose membership includes District Attorneys from across the United States, is based in Alexandria, Virginia. The NDAA was formed in 1950 and represents the interests of prosecutors and influences federal and national policies affecting law enforcement and prosecution across the country.
While hs sojourn to Boston was a pleasant interlude that afforded him the opportunity to meet and trade notes with other prosecutors, Ramos has since returned to San Bernardino, where he has again taken up the serious business of fighting crime.
During the celebration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week which was observed April 10–16, 2016, District Attorney Ramos held a special memorial on Monday, April 11, 2016 at the San Bernardino County Government Center Rotunda, featuring the Redlands East Valley Choir, under the direction of Rita Stevens. The singers performed in honor of San Bernardino county’s fallen victims. During the memorial, the District Attorney’s Office will present the Award for Exemplary Service to Victims of Crime to Rose Madsen of Family and Friends of Murder Victims. A bagpipe tribute will also take place beside the bronze “Officer Down” statue in honor of the county’s fallen officers.
Also in April, District Attorney Ramos announced the creation of his department’s animal cruelty prosecution unit, saying that as district attorney, “I believe the time is now to take the next step in our fight against animal cruelty. Effective prosecution of animal abuse requires a collaborative team approach, vertical prosecution, and specially trained prosecutors and investigators who are dedicated to protecting innocent animals. In short, it requires a special vertical prosecution unit dedicated solely to prosecuting animal cruelty.”
He continued, saying, “I am proud to announce the creation of the District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit (ACPU), which together with new stricter policies on prosecution, will help us accomplish the goal of investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty to the fullest extent of the law.
Earlier that month, District Attorney Ramos had hailed his creation of a conviction review unit to make sure the prosecutors under his watch are confining their efforts to bona fide criminals. At the same time, District Attorney Ramos assured the public his prosecutorial team makes very few, if any, mistakes.
“The mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is to ensure justice is done by seeking the truth, protecting the innocent, holding the guilty accountable, preserving the dignity of victims and their families, while maintaining the highest ethical standards,” he said. “I am proud to say that we are accomplishing our mission.”
And people need not simply take his word for it, he said.
“According to the latest data from the National Registry of Exonerations, which researches and documents every wrongful conviction exoneration in the nation, San Bernardino County had zero exonerations,” Ramos crowed. “Our record of only convicting the guilty is due to many factors. Primarily it exists because our prosecutors work tirelessly every day to ‘do the right thing’ on every case. We have policies and procedures in place to ensure that full and complete discovery is given to the defense on every case. We train on the unique and stringent ethical requirements for prosecutors and have imbued our entire office with a culture that places ethics above all else. Our county’s police agencies likewise put the highest value on conducting fair and ethical investigations.
However, as prosecutors, our duty to obtain justice never ends. Recent advances in technology and scientific evidence, such as DNA, could possibly cast doubt on some convictions. New witnesses or evidence may be discovered, years after a conviction, that could call into question a defendant’s guilt. It is important that we have a formal procedure to review these cases and determine whether an innocent person has been wrongfully convicted. For these reasons, I am pleased to announce that I have formed a Conviction Review Unit. The Conviction Review Unit will be responsible for reviewing qualifying claims that an innocent person was wrongfully convicted.
As district attorney, Ramos also created the Special Victims K-9 Unit, consisting of two black Labradors, Lupe and Dozer, and their handlers, Don Ross and Yesica Cioli, who are assigned to work with children who have been victimized or are witnesses. The dogs are intenended to reassure children and allay their fears about testifying. “Our main goal is to greatly reduce the understandable fears that a child has about entering the courtroom,” Ramos said. “Research shows that just having dogs nearby has a calming effect and lowers blood pressure. The level of cortisol which is associated with stress, is actually lowered when dogs are present.”